This project is a research study funded by the William T. Grant Foundation. Research suggests that high quality organized after-school activities help youth be successful in life. Latinos, on average, are unlikely to reap these potential benefits as their attendance is often lower than their peers. We are interested in how family and friends help Latino youth decide whether to participate in activities, which activities to participate in, and whether or not to stay involved over time. Project Reach consisted of four steps:
First, we analyzed the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health; Udry, 2003). These analyses described activity participation among Latino adolescents across the U.S.
Second, we conducted 19 focus groups in three diverse middle schools with teenagers, parents, and activity leaders. The focus groups were used to provide a list of the factors that determine Latino teenagers’ participation. We discussed five main questions: Why do adolescents join activities, drop out of activities, stay in activities, drop out and then rejoin activities or never go to activities at all?
Third, we collected mixed-methods data on 34 case studies to provide greater depth into the processes that determine participation. Qualitative data was the primary data source because many of these topics have not been studied in relation to teenagers’ activities. Each case included Latino adolescents, their parents, and the leader of the organized activity they attended. Adolescents who did and did not participate in an organized activity were selected from 3 diverse middle schools and were matched on several factors that predict participation (e.g., GPA). Three semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with each adolescent and their parent. We discussed the role of Latino culture, such as language barriers and the importance of race/ethnicity, in helping youth make decisions about extracurricular activities. We also visited several of the youth’s extracurricular activities to understand what happens during the activity.
Finally, we developed quantitative measures to capture the topics discussed in the qualitative data. We surveyed nearly 300 Latino and Caucasian adolescents and their parents. The majority of adolescents participated in at least one organized activity (80%). We administered a telephone survey, which included several quantitative scales. The scales addressed a broad range of topics, such as orientation toward American versus Latino culture, participation in activities, and family conflicts that arise due to participation in extracurricular activities.
Publications and Presentations
Although all data collection has been completed, the research team continues to present findings from Project Reach to families, communities, and researchers to help inform the role of extracurricular activities in these youth’s lives.
Click on a topic below to view a list of the publications and presentations to date from the research project.