A comparison study of faith-based and secular after-school programs

Degree Name

MA in International and Intercultural Management

First Advisor

Charles Curry-Smithson


This paper seeks to compare the ideologies as reflected in the program design of secular and faith based after-school teen programs by studying four organizations in Washington, D.C. Catholic Charities Teen Center, Mt. Calvary Teen Center, Boys and Girls Clubs Teen Center, and the Latin American Youth Center are the four organizations that I selected to study. My method or research is a qualitative study by using a survey that was given to one director at each of the four organizations. I spent approximately 90 minutes with each director at the location of his or her teen center. The survey asks the same questions of each organization with additional questions that are site specific. I concluded that both after-school teen programs are very similar in nature. They both strive to develop the leadership, cognitive, moral, and educational characteristics of their participants. However, the faith-based programs had the ability to use overtly religious concepts or ideas in the ideology and implementation of their programs. On the other hand, the secular organizations did not concentrate on this aspect as a part of their ideology and implementation. Interestingly enough, I found that in both cases that the beliefs of a staff person contributed greatly to how the program was implemented. Youth development professionals might consider this paper a good framework for further investigations into the similarities or differences between such after-school programs or to investigate why secular after-school programs far outnumber faith-based after-school teen programs in Washington, D.C.

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