Photograph of a young woman holding a tape recorder.To help young people, you first have to identify the issue you want to address, whether that is substance abuse, youth homelessness, lack of educational opportunities, or something else. Next, study the need so that you can prove to community leaders and funders that it exists. Finally, devise a plan for how you will address the problem.

For instance, perhaps you feel that young people in your community have nowhere to go after school. You might conduct a survey of middle and high school students in your neighborhood, to find out whether they need a place to hang out after school and what kinds of activities they would want such a place to offer. Then, using the information you've gathered in your survey, you can begin making the case for an afterschool program that will suit the needs of young people in your community.

Make sure to involve youth and adult community members in all steps of the idea stage so that your efforts are community-based, rather than imposed on people.

Assessing the Need

A comprehensive community needs assessment will help you identify the particular problem you would like to address, which young people would benefit from your help, and what kind of solution will best address their needs. The following links tell you how to conduct an assessment of your community.

Community Assessment (

Assessing Community Needs and Resources (Community Toolbox)

Conducting a Community Assessment (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory)

Map My Community (

Making the Case

A case statement or concept paper lays out the need for the services you propose and how you intend to deliver those services. Writing one is a good first step toward planning a new program, asking for financial support, and recruiting others to your cause. Learn how by following the links below.

Draft a Concept Paper (City of Washington, DC, Business Resource Center)

How to Write a Comprehensive Case Statement for a Non-Profit Organization (Rescue Mission Foundation)

Defining Your Mission

A mission statement declares your organization's reason for being, expresses your group's core values, and provides direction for every decision you make. The links below take you through the steps of defining your mission and getting it down on paper.

Determine the Mission (City of Washington, DC, Business Resource Center)

Establishing a Vision and Mission (Community Toolbox)

How to Write a Mission Statement (PDF, 81KB) (The Grantsmanship Center)



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