Not just a blip in someone’s life: integrating brokering practices into out-of-school programming as a means of supporting and expanding youth futures

Dixie Ching, Rafi Santo, Christopher Hoadley, Kylie Peppler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This article makes a case for the importance of brokering future learning opportunities to youth as a programmatic goal for informal learning organizations. Such brokering entails engaging in practices that connect youth to events, programs, internships, individuals and institutions related to their interests to support them beyond the window of a specific program or event. Brokering is especially critical for youth who are new to an area of interest: it helps them develop both a baseline understanding of the information landscape and a social network that will respond to their needs as they pursue various goals. The paper aims to describe three critical levers for brokering well in informal settings: creating learning environments that allow trust to form between youth and educators and enable educators to develop an understanding of a young person’s interests, needs and goals; attending to a young person’s tendency (or not) to reach out to educators after a program is over to solicit assistance; and enabling potential brokers to efficiently locate appropriate future learning opportunities for each young person who approaches them. The authors also include a set of program practices for providers who wish to increase their brokering impact, as well as recommendations geared primarily toward organization leaders. The authors hope that this paper brings clarity and enhanced significance to the practice of brokering as a strategy to support youth pathways toward meaningful futures. Design/methodology/approach: Insights presented here are the result of a participatory knowledge building and sharing process with a community of after-school providers known as the Mozilla Hive NYC Learning Network. The topic of discussion was how these providers might continue to support young people in their intensive project-based programs after the program was over. The authors of this article, acting as embedded research partners to Hive NYC, contributed insights to these discussions based on ethnographic fieldwork and case studies of high-school-age youth in the Hive NYC context. Findings: The authors articulate a set of brokering practices and a conceptual model that communicates how brokering might lead to valued long-term outcomes for youth, including increased social capital. Originality/value: The intent is that information and perspectives from this article will inform youth-serving practice and serve as a catalyst for further conversations and activities geared toward promoting youth pathways of learning and identity development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-312
Number of pages17
JournalOn the Horizon
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • Brokering
  • Cross-setting learning
  • Interest-driven learning
  • Professional development
  • Youth pathways

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Not just a blip in someone’s life: integrating brokering practices into out-of-school programming as a means of supporting and expanding youth futures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this