Promoting Positive Youth Development in Low-Income Elementary Schools

This brief is one in a series of final reports from the Study of Playworks Implementation in Eight Bay Area Schools. It examines the ways that Playworks promotes positive youth development and reports students’, teachers’, and principals’ views of the program’s effects on students and the school environment. This brief builds on earlier study publications, including a literature review, a theory of change model, an interim report, and a final report.

Findings include:

  • Eighty-seven percent of teachers agreed that students in their schools felt connected to their coach.
  • Students from schools with coach turnover were less likely to report that they had an adult on campus who cared about them than students who attended schools that had the same coach all year.
  • Sixty percent of the teachers surveyed felt Playworks had also increased students’ sense of belonging at school.
  • About three-quarters of teachers surveyed in the spring believed that students felt more or much more emotionally and physically safe at school as a result of Playworks.
  • Seventy-seven percent of teachers responding to the spring survey agreed or strongly agreed that junior coaches had gained leadership skills as a result of participation in the program.

Playworks may benefit from exploring ways to support coach consistency. Because some coach turnover is to be expected, creating structures to facilitate a positive transition, focused on strong communication and support, would strengthen the program.