Building a Foundation for Community Leadership
Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Involving Youth in Community Development Projects

This handbook is designed to guide Extension agents, high school teachers, or adult leaders of youth organizations in creating and implementing their own youth leadership and community development project. The purposes of this project are as follows:

  • To provide youth with a community service learning process so as to increase their understanding of their community, to improve their sense of empowerment, and to encourage participation in community affairs.
  • To forge the school-community partnership and to develop increased community support for the school’s educational programs.
  • To help community leaders and citizens address important local needs through the enthusiasm, knowledge, and labor contributed by youth. “I’m more likely to be involved because here I’ve been involved already and I want to see it keep moving

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Table of Contents


  • An Overview
  • Purpose
  • Community Service Learning
  • Developing the Community
  • Strategy for Merging These Together
  • Project Outline
  • Time Line for Use
  • Creating a Successful Project
  • References and Resources

Part 1. Learning about Community Leadership

  • A Primer on Community
  • Studying Your Community
  • Overhead Masters
  • Population Exercise
  • Mapping Exercise
  • Studying Community Action Exercise
  • Technology Exercise
  • History Exercise

Part 2. The School-Based Community Needs Assessment Survey

  • Community Needs Assessment
  • Creating a Survey Questionnaire
  • Writing and Formatting the Survey Questions
  • Question Construction Exercise
  • Question Order Exercise
  • Overhead Masters
  • Needs Assessment Survey Example
  • Promoting Your Community Needs Survey
  • Promoting Your Survey: Preliminary Work and Selecting Media
  • Promoting Your Survey: Preparing a Fact Sheet and Press Release
  • Overhead Masters
  • Sampling in Community Surveys
  • Random Digit Dialing in Telephone Surveys
  • Random Digit Dialing Sampling Exercise
  • Directory Sampling Exercise
  • Overhead Masters
  • Interviewing Techniques for Telephone Surveys
  • Interviewing Training
  • Interviewing Scenario Exercise
  • Overhead Masters
  • Analyzing Survey Data
  • Overhead Masters

Part 3. School-Based Community Development Project

  • Community Projects: Beyond the Needs Assessment
  • Possible Community Projects and Solutions
  • Information Sources for Community Projects
  • Recognizing the Impact of Community Projects
  • Overhead Masters
  • Community Projects: Preparing for Action
  • Project Resources Exercise
  • Overhead Masters