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Core Competencies for Youth Development Practitioners

Research has shown that participation in quality out-of-school time programs yields numerous long-term benefits for young people—from higher academic achievement to enhanced social emotional skills to violence prevention. However, these outcomes cannot be achieved unless youth-serving agencies have the organizational and staff capacity to deliver high-quality programming on a consistent basis. Research also indicates that a skilled and stable youth development workforce plays a significant role in program quality, continuity, and youth experiences. 


In 2016 Beyond the Bell adopted the Core Competencies for Youth Development Practitioners, a guide that serves to strengthen the professional development system for youth work professionals in Milwaukee. A competency is a set of knowledge, skills, and abilities essential to youth development work. 

Professional Development Pilot

From November 2016 to January 2017, Beyond the Bell piloted a series of FREE professional development opportunities that were directly aligned to the core competencies. This process was developed entirely by the Quality Working Group, with members creating the RFP, selecting the trainings, and designing the evaluation.

BTB offered 13 sessions on 8 topics, and 229 individuals from 69 organizations received training. Evaluation data (87% completion rate) showed that:

  • 98% of respondents found the quality of the training to be Very Good or Good

  • 97.5% found the content of the training to be Very Good or Good

  • 68% found the training Extremely Relevant to their work

  • 81% felt they Definitely or Very Probably had the skills to implement training content into their work


The pilot was intended to inform the development of a larger system in which youth development professionals can readily access high-quality, competency-based training and coaching to 1) improve their practice, 2) build a network of highly skilled youth development practitioners, and 3) professionalize the field. 

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