The children of Generation Z have grown up in a world of rapid change, but their basic needs are the same as the young people of any era. In an increasingly technological world, having mentors and resources that understand their needs is important for any young person. These six organizations provide opportunities for today’s children to grow and succeed.
Originally a girl-oriented alternative to the Boy Scouts, Camp Fire became a co-ed program in 1975. Since then, it has focused on creating an inclusive environment for learning, leadership, and self-discovery. Its tiered programs, from preschool-aged Little Stars to high school-aged Horizon, are designed to foster friendship, creativity, life skills, and responsibility. This is a great opportunity for teens and kids to meet like-minded peers and get early support for their future.
This community program encourages participants to excel in various fields, while 4-H Afterschool programs help create productive learning environments for children in after-school care. With a focus on personal development and learning through experience, members have many opportunities for positive competition and can grow into leadership roles. Some included programs are health, science, agriculture, citizenship, and education. Kids get mentors as well as hands-on projects that test their knowledge, leadership, and community skills.
The Freechild Project
The Freechild Project provides resources and training programs to help young people express their ideas through political activism. They work to combat age-based bias and promote social justice. By making sure the voice of the youth is heard, they try to instill young people with a sense of responsibility and the tools to enact change through politics and government.
Reading Is Fundamental
RIF was created to develop a reading culture for children who do not have access to their own books. This organization donates to schools and provides books for children to take home. Through their programs, communities are better able to help students keep up with their literacy skills. They also provide resources for parents and teachers that encourage children to engage with books of their choosing.
Interact clubs, sponsored by local branches of Rotary International, are volunteer organizations for young people. Their projects encourage members to give back to their schools and communities. Rotary’s website says there are over 20,000 Interact clubs in 159 countries, giving each group the chance to build connections across the globe for more effective outreach.
Big Brothers, Big Sisters
This organization promotes social development and volunteer opportunities, matching their participants with an adult or older teen volunteer. These relationships boost self-esteem and encourage academic and personal responsibility. Successful matches give children much-needed support and expose them to new experiences. Specialized programs focus on particular circumstances, such as children of incarcerated parents or mentors who work in law enforcement.
Though most of these organizations were established decades ago, they embrace new technologies and modern understandings of youth development to give their participants the skills and communities that will help them in years to come.