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  • AnDee Solis

Just Released!

Updated: Dec 16, 2022

The Heartbeat of the Youth Development Field: Professional Journeys of Growth, Connection, and Transformation

Researchers at the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) recently curated and edited a book called The Heartbeat of the Youth Development Field: Professional Journeys of Growth, Connection, and Transformation, as part of IAP's Current Issues in Out-of-School Time series.

Through research and personal essays, the book shines a light on the intricate connections between research and practice, touching upon both the vulnerability and triumph of youth development work. The passionate voices of youth workers in this volume lead to the inescapable conclusion that programs and policies for youth must be informed by these same voices and the values they express.

Georgia Hall, one of the authors of the book, contacted BACR's Program Director, Mariana Lopez Quintanilla asking her to contribute to the book by writing an essay. Her essay "Taking Equity Full Circle", alongside five other essays published in the Pathways Section, shares how she started her career in EXL (expanded learning) which was highly influenced by a sense of social responsibility she learned growing up. She describes her involvement with the school day and family services and how that serves to enhance the support the after-school program provided to the students and makes note of the importance of empowering the staff and being courageous.

The essay concludes, “I hope to be able to continue to be humble while leading with a caring heart. I find my purpose in what I do every day in the OST field as I focus on lifting up equity by providing students with experiences that support their development, including their families in the learning process and advocating for their needs, giving staff the tools they need to feel authentic and inspired at work, and challenging the status quo.”

-Mariana Lopez Quintanilla

"We hope this book shows OST workers, researchers, funders, and policymakers, as well as other education professionals, how youth workers’ lived experiences inspire their ability to build the relationships that are the foundation of positive and healthy youth development. From relationships comes engagement, and from engagement, transformation—centered in equity, inclusion, and belonging. No one is better able to advocate for these truths than the professionals who work with young people to bring positive change to their lives, their communities, and our world."

-Georgia Hall, Ph.D., is the director and a senior research scientist and Elizabeth Starr, M.Ed., is a research associate at the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST). They are co-editors, along with Jan Gallagher, Ph.D.


"The Heartbeat of the Youth Development Field: Professional Journeys of Growth, Connection and Transformation is a timely discussion about what we in the Out-of-School Time and youth development field know already - that this work is an integral part of the success, survival, and thriving of youth. This book will be a catalyst for ensuring the professionalization of our field and additional support and resources for out-of-school time and youth development professionals." — Ebony Grace, NJSACC: The Statewide Network for New Jersey’s Afterschool Communities

"The Heartbeat of the Youth Development Field provides a window into the lives of youth workers and experiences that led to their work with young people. It beautifully illustrates the importance of building positive relationships with youth, and details the practices and strategies successfully employed by youth workers. While this book will be immeasurably valuable to researchers, funders, and policymakers, it is also an important resource for program leaders to promote reflection and discussion among youth worker staff as part of staff development." — Sam Piha, The How Kids Learn Foundation and Temescal Associates

This is a must read for everyone in the out-of-school time and youth development learning space. I am excited to see the conversations, connections and collaborations this text will inspire. Reflecting on my own journey, this work motivates me to examine how I show up in each of those spaces and how we hold space for others to do the same. It is more than just a “job." This book gives you a glimpse into the “vocation.” It is amazing to see our profession painted in this light.