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Raising the Barre & Stretching the Canvas: Implementing High-Quality Arts Programming in a National Youth Serving Organization

As part of an ongoing, multi-million dollar Wallace Foundation initiative to improve and expand arts learning opportunities for young people, the Wallace Foundation, in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), developed the Youth Arts Initiative (YAI) to deliver otherwise inaccessible high-quality arts programs to low-income urban tweens in an after-school setting.

With funding from the Wallace Foundation, BGCA launched a YAI pilot in February 2014 to see if a multidisciplinary Youth Serving Organization (YSO), working with a small number of its affiliates, could implement a high-quality art skill-development program modeled after out-of-school time programs focused primarily on the arts.

This first report from RFA’s multi-year evaluation examines early implementation of YAI and found that, while the clubs did create high-quality programming that attracted and retained low-income youth, implementation challenged club culture in a variety of ways.