PurposeThis article makes a case for the importance of brokering future learning opportunities to youth as a programmatic goal for informal learning organizations. Such brokering entails engaging in practices that connect youth to events, programs, internships, individuals, and institutions related to their interests to support them beyond the window of a specific program or event. Brokering is especially critical for youth who are new to an area of interest: it helps them develop both a baseline understanding of the information landscape and a social network that will respond to their needs as they pursue various goals. We describe three critical levers for brokering well in informal settings: (1) creating learning environments that allow trust to form between youth and educators and enable educators to develop an understanding of a young person’s interests, needs, and goals, (2) attending to a young person’s tendency (or not) to reach out to educators after a program is over to solicit assistance, and (3) enabling potential brokers to efficiently locate appropriate future learning opportunities for each youth that approaches them. We also include a set of program practices for providers who wish to increase their brokering impact, as well as recommendations geared primarily toward organization leaders. We hope this paper brings clarity and enhanced significance to the practice of brokering as a strategy to support youth pathways towards meaningful futures. Design/methodology/approachInsights presented here are the result of a participatory knowledge building and sharing process with a community of after-school providers known as the Mozilla Hive NYC Learning Network. The topic of discussion was how these providers might continue to support young people in their intensive project-based programs after the program was over. The authors of this article, acting as embedded research partners to Hive NYC, contributed insights to these discussions based on ethnographic fieldwork and case studies of high-school-age youth in the Hive NYC context.FindingsWe articulate a set of brokering practices as well as a conceptual model that communicates how brokering might lead to valued long-term outcomes for youth, including increased social capital. Originality/valueOur intent is that information and perspectives from this article will inform youth-serving practice and serve as a catalyst for further conversations and activities geared toward promoting youth pathways of learning and identity development.
On the Horizon – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 8, 2016