A faith-based organization's program planning for the next generation
Alade, Yetunde Itunu
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This action research case study investigated the dynamics of program planning around youth engagement in a faith-based organization. Four research questions guided the study: (1) What are the challenges to planning, implementing, and evaluating youth engagement programs in a faith-based organization?; (2) How are the challenges negotiated during the program planning process?; (3) What changes in a faith-based organization’s activities result in the increased engagement of youth?; and (4) What learning occurs at the individual, group, and system levels as a result of the action research team engaging in program planning for youth? The principal investigator worked alongside 10 congregants from the faith-based organization through the action research phases of construction, planning action, taking action, and evaluating action. Program planning theory, negotiation theory, and systems change theory informed the project. Data were collected using a combination of survey instruments, meeting notes, researcher reflection interviews, critical incident exit interviews, observation, and researcher journal entries. Based on the analysis of the findings, four conclusions were drawn: (1) Negotiation of culture and power is required at the planning table and is critical for a successful intervention; (2) tenets from interest-based negotiation can be utilized to overcome disagreements during program planning and to advance decision making; (3) engaging in the action research process can promote action learning at individual, group, and system levels; and (4) youth program planning is dependent on corresponding changes in other parts of faith-based organizations. Study implications include attentiveness to commitment and population at the planning table, inclusion of youth and parents in planning, and the need to change other parts of the system to accommodate and sustain change effort.