How Creative Youth Development (CYD) Programs Support Student Success

Education Commission of the States recently released a new report exploring the design and impact of Creative Youth Development (CYD) programs and providing policy considerations regarding CYD for states looking for ways to narrow the achievement gap and support student success.

In CYD programs, young people create original work through arts experiences and apply their creative skills to solve problems.
Research shows that participation in the arts has a positive effect on a wide range of outcomes for youth. Engagement with the arts not only reinforces deeper-learning skills, but studies show that it also positively impacts academic outcomes, such as standardized test performance.
In addition, arts engagement has been linked with improved social behaviors, reduced likelihood of school suspension and increased school engagement. These outcomes may be particularly significant for low-income and at-risk students.
Several elements of effective CYD programs have been found to contribute to participants’ growth and development:
  1. Engage students through arts education by focusing on hands-on skill-building and demonstrating a commitment to the artistic advancement and personal growth of participants.
  2. Create a safe and affirming environment by ensuring that program spaces are welcoming, inspiring, and physically and emotionally safe for participants.
  3. Employ quality educators who are professional, practicing artists committed to youth development and regular collaboration with participants.
  4. Foster relationship-building and social skill development by encouraging small-group interaction, connecting students with professional and peer artists outside the program, and maintaining engagement with alumni.
  5. Promote student ownership by setting high expectations for participants and allowing them to assume leadership roles and use their own experiences to shape programs.

Under ESSA, states have flexibility to support CYD programs through Title II; Title IV, including Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants; and 21st Century Community Learning Center programs.

For more, see