Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gabriel Kuperminc


Positive Youth Development (PYD) programs typically provide their members with opportunities to acquire and practice leadership skills and to participate in volunteer activities (e.g., Durlak & Weissberg, 2010; Larson & Angus, 2011). The experience of feeling heard in an after-school program setting may empower youth to participate in civic engagement activities including community service (Watts & Flanagan, 2007). This study examined mediating effects of psychological empowerment on the association between feeling heard and participating in community service. Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses were conducted. The cross-sectional analysis included n=36,955 teens ages 13-17 who completed the survey in 2016. The longitudinal analysis included data from a subset of youth who completed surveys in both 2016 and 2017. Participants in the longitudinal analysis were 7,544 members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America ages 13-17. The samples for cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses were similar. Both analyses included 45 - 47% female participants. In addition, participants had diverse ethnic/racial backgrounds. Most participants were economically disadvantaged (74%). This study found an indirect effect from feeling heard to community service and club service mediated by empowerment. In addition, there was an indirect effect from youth input and agency to community and club service through empowerment. Findings will help aid practitioners in developing strategies to foster civic engagement by increasing youths’ opportunities to give feedback and be involved in decision making at their clubs.


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