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The transition out of high school and into young adulthood is often fraught with challenge and uncertainty, especially for youth of color and first-generation students. This two-part research study first reports on interviews with young adults who describe the obstacles they faced in making this critical life transition. The second part of our study describes the findings from interviews with young adults who participated in Out-of-School (OST) programs during their transition to young adulthood. Through youth-engaged research, we identify six pillars or key elements that OST programs can offer to young people in building a sense of possibility and identity, as well as in providing important skills and resources that improve chances for success. Throughout, we argue that youth voices are a critical tool for understanding the efficacy of OST programs.


Emerging adulthood, out-of-school programming, after school programming, youth participatory action research, youth development, transition to adulthood





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