Social Capital in Youth Programs
By Sam PearlSocial capital refers to the resources that come from connections with other people. A rich network of authentic connections can help you to find that next job or opportunity. In the age of information overload and paid algorithms, strong social capital is the ability to phone a friend for help finding a new doctor or a place to live. We need friends with connections, friends who understand our experiences, and friends who have divergent and rich lives of their own to share. Social capital is essential for us to thrive.
Last year, the Maine Youth Action Network partnered, convened, and collaborated with programs creatively building social capital networks. We reflected on the value of social capital in our 2022 Annual Report. This year, the MYAN team is excited to share our learning process and continue growing our skills and programming alongside others. What does social capital development look like in your program? Where can we collaborate to strengthen every young person’s web of resources?
This summer and fall, in addition to the Maine Youth Leadership Conference planning team, we are offering two youth engagement opportunities designed to strengthen social capital! In early August, we will be taking a group of young people to the Youth Leadership Institute to connect with organizers and initiatives all over New England. In late August, we will be launching a youth-led grantmaking group that leverages financial resources to support youth initiatives across the state. For more information and to apply to either opportunity, please visit this link!
Social capital often develops organically through existing networks. To ensure that every young person in Maine has access to the rich resources needed to thrive in tomorrow’s landscape, programs can intentionally design on-ramps for connection. This brief offers an overview of the established research around social capital. Contact us to learn more about opportunities for collaboration and continued learning with this topic!