Introducing the CREATE, CONNECT, and CATALYZE Framework

I believe in the power and mystery of naming things. Language has the capacity to transform our cells, rearrange our learned patterns of behavior and redirect our thinking. I believe in naming what’s right in front of us because that is often what is most invisible. – Eve Ensler

Over the past five years Mass Cultural Council, through its work with the CYD National Partnership, has been invested in clearly defining who we are as a field, what we value, and how we can best articulate the many practices and outcomes associated with Creative Youth Development (CYD). Documenting the beauty and depth of what transpires in CYD programs and understanding the crucial ingredients for success has been an important, yet elusive task.

Venn diagram showing how the notions of create, connect, and catalyze intersect into creative youth development

As long as caring and skilled adult artists have mentored young people in their chosen art form, CYD practices have thrived in communities across the United States. But what makes CYD programs different from other arts education experiences? The “Create, Connect, Catalyze” framework attempts to address this question by identifying three outcome areas of CYD programs. By weaving together perspectives from young people alongside perspectives from academic research on creative learning environments, the framework highlights how these creative learning experiences support young people’s connections to themselves, their peers, and their communities for the purpose of a more equitable and just society.

As you explore each of the outcome areas, you can delve into how the research connects with young peoples’ experiences. We propose the “Create, Connect, Catalyze” framework as a shared ‘work-in-progress’ and hope this resource can help to articulate key impact areas that researchers, program staff, and young people agree are all essential to creative youth development.

The following key areas are tied to the Annotated Bibliography sections that can be found in the “Mapping a phenomenon, growing a field” report:

  • CREATE links with Cognitive and Creative Development
  • CONNECT links with Personal Development
  • CATALYZE links with Civic Development and Social Justice

With a shared framework for creative youth development, we are hopeful that we will be in a stronger position to develop new, participatory approaches to program evaluation and assessment.

Explore the New Framework

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