“Reaching Out to Inner-City Youth” looks at the problems within society leading youth to engage in risky behaviors, and at the approaches and programs designed to help them. The research methodology for this paper was to review the current literature which documents how changes and distress in families, community and society have impacted youth. In addition to drawing on the national perspective of what’s making youth vulnerable, lifelines of risks for Minnesota youth in particular is also examined. Therefore, looking at the risks youth are facing, as well as exploring what services or approaches are pro-actively responding to them, is the central focus for this paper. For the qualitative research component of this paper, the work of 3 Minnesota- based organizations that are addressing such issues as teenage pregnancy, violence in adolescence and homeless youth are revealed. The ideas and stories, which I learned from youth themselves and their advocates, bring to life the eminent struggles of inner-city life as well as the obstacles involved with reaching out to them. This research was conducted through observations, casual dialogue and formal interviews that I have engaged in over the past 14 months since I’ve been working in the field. The conclusion of this paper builds on the philosophy that just as there are many underlying causes for why youth are engaging in risk behaviors, an increasing number of today’s youth, especially those in high-risk settings, have multiple needs that warrant careful attention. Therefore, this study identifies how comprehensively- based, youth focused approaches which address these core needs are capable of laying the foundation for positive youth development outcomes to come forth. This paper is relevant as initial research for further evaluating the effectiveness of youth organizations based on how they are incorporating these emerging paradigms into the services they provide.


Social Welfare | Urban Studies