The National Youth at Risk Program sustainability study : continuity, success, and survival of community-based projects

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Virginia Cooperative Extension

Programs for children, youth, adults, and families have been shown to have positive influences on the quality of community life (Comer & Fraser, 1998; Marek, Mancini, Lee & Miles, 1996; Schorr, 1997). Even though the human resource and economic resource investments in community-based programs are substantial, and despite what is known about the nature of successful programs, the matter of what sustains programs is less clear (Lerner, 1995; Mancini & Marek, 1998). The research and analyses reported here are designed to address some of the deficits in our understanding of program sustainability, specifically for at risk audiences, and reflects the second phase in a multi-year study of community-based programs that are targeted to at risk youth and families. The long-term goals of this research project are to document project longevity for at risk audiences and the processes that underlie it, to build a program sustainability conceptual framework, and to develop a community-level sustainability assessment inventory.