The Benefits of Empowering Our Youth Closer to Home

The Benefits of Empowering Our Youth Closer to Home

As Boston students settle into the new school year, IBA is gearing up for the next Youth Development Program (YDP) cycle, which starts in October and runs through May. IBA’s nationally acclaimed program encourages students between the ages of 14 and 19 to use the arts and civic engagement as tools to help them think critically about ways to improve their community and express themselves. As we get ready to welcome back our youth, we can’t help but reflect on the importance of positive programming for students located in close proximity to their homes.

After school, many teenagers left unsupervised are at risk of being exposed to harmful behaviors, such as drug use and violence. This risk is even greater for students whose caregivers’ jobs prevent them from being home most evenings. After-school youth programs allow students to spend time with their peers, seek academic assistance and assume leadership or volunteer positions in their communities, while letting caregivers rest assured that their children are in a safe environment (

In order for youth programs to be beneficial, students must be able to travel to them. For most students in Boston and their families, who rely on walking and the MBTA to get around, this could represent longer travel times for teens, especially when students in Boston attend high schools located across the City, sometimes in distant neighborhoods. The longer a student must travel to and from an after-school program, the higher the likelihood of exposure to the same risky behaviors youth programming is trying to prevent. Incorporating youth programs into affordable housing communities addresses this problem by providing students with safe after-school activities right in their backyards.

IBA’s YDP provides a safe and easily accessible place to go after school for students living at Villa Victoria and in neighboring communities, but it also does more than that: it empowers them to make decisions, take initiative, explore issues facing their community and grow intellectually, socially and emotionally. By helping our young people succeed academically and engage with their community through artistic expression, we are instilling the next generation of adults with the leadership skills needed to make a difference.

We are currently recruiting youth to join our school cycle – October to May. If you want to be part of IBA’s Youth, please call 617-927-1707.

As Boston's Latino arts hub, we are proud to support self-expression, cultural enrichment and academic growth, while also working to develop housing opportunities for low-income households and minority residents in the city. For more information on how you can support IBA, please visit our page: