The VCU Advanced Certificate in Youth Development Management offers essential training in workforce and positive youth development. Designed for professionals across various sectors, including early childhood education, outside-school-time (OST) youth and young adult programs and services, school and community group settings and healthcare facilities/offices. This certificate equips participants with the skills needed to excel in roles such as caregivers, mentors, teachers, healthcare providers, youth program leaders, and managers. By addressing the unique needs of Richmond's youth population, the certificate aims to establish best practices for engaging with diverse communities across Virginia.

Focus: Cultural, racial, societal, and systemic factors influencing young people's academic, physical, and social development 

The VCU Advanced Certificate in Youth Development Management is an ideal program for individuals committed to making a significant impact in the field of youth development and health. Through its focused curriculum and experiential learning opportunities, students will emerge as leaders equipped to face the challenges and opportunities in the evolving landscape of youth lives.

This certificate is a non-credit credential managed by the VCU Mary and Frances Youth Center. 

Regional Site Visits: Cohort members participate in site visits with youth and youth organizations as stipulated by MFYC staff. 

Contact Information: For inquiries and applications, please visit VCU Mary and Frances Youth Center or contact Dr. Vaughn Whitney Garland at Applications accepted starting June 17th.

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Annually, around twenty individuals will be chosen from a pool of professionals in youth programs and education, as well as current VCU students, to join the cohort. The application process for the cohort will launch in June 2024, and the program itself is scheduled to begin in August 2024.

The VCU Advanced Certificate in Youth Development Management provides essential training in workforce and positive youth development skills for professionals across various sectors, including early childhood, youth, and young adult programs. These professionals play diverse roles, serving as caregivers, mentors, teachers, group leaders, healthcare services, welfare workers, case managers and program managers. Often, their responsibilities extend to supporting families and fostering community engagement.

The VCU Advanced Certificate in Youth Development Management spans three semesters and combines coursework with on-site field placements. Cohort members  examine topics such as positive youth development, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) practices, program and curriculum planning, and evaluation and assessment systems for youth programs. Through lectures and practical experiences, Cohort members explore the cultural, racial, societal, and systemic factors influencing young people's academic, physical, and social development. The curriculum specifically addresses the unique needs of Richmond's youth population, aiming to establish best practices for engaging with the diverse local and regional communities.  However, The VCU Advanced Certificate in Youth Development Management also offers exemplary practices applicable to cities and regions throughout Virginia. Examples of best practices highlighted in the program include:

  • Culturally responsive programming tailored to meet the needs of diverse youth populations in the Richmond region and throughout Virginia.
  • Collaborative community partnerships that enhance access to resources and support networks for young people.
  • Holistic approaches to youth development that consider social, emotional, and academic needs.
  • Leadership strategies that promote inclusivity and empower young people from marginalized backgrounds.
  • Innovative methods for empowering youth in decision-making processes and civic participation throughout the Commonwealth.

These examples illustrate how the certificate program not only addresses the specific context of Richmond but also offers insights and strategies applicable to youth development efforts statewide.

Upon completion of the program, certificate holders are equipped with the skills to effectively connect with youth and collaborate with program partners. Additionally, they gain access to career opportunities within the region and across Virginia. The VCU Advanced Certificate program aims to enhance the quality of youth programs by providing focused coursework delivered by community-based facilitators and content experts, preparing future youth professionals to excel as leaders, educators, mentors, and caregivers.

Three semesters of coursework and on-site field placements designed for professionals working with youth, including:

School Educators, Administrators, Volunteers, and Staff

    • Teachers (elementary, middle, and high school)
    • Principals and Assistant Principals
    • School Counselors
    • School Nurses
    • Administrative Staff
    • Classroom Aides
    • School Librarians
    • School Volunteers (e.g., PTA members, community volunteers)

Early Education and Out-of-School-Time (OST) Programs

    • Preschool Teachers and Staff
    • Head Start Program Workers
    • After-School Program Coordinators
    • After-School Program Tutors and Mentors
    • Summer Camp Counselors
    • OST Program Volunteers

Non-Profit Youth Organizations and Community Groups/Centers

    • Youth Mentoring Program Coordinators and Mentors
    • Full and Part-time Program Staff
    • Program Coordinators and Managers
    • Community Center Directors
    • Non-Profit Program Volunteers

Healthcare, Community Service Boards, Youth and Family Counseling Services, and Youth Detention Centers

    • Pediatricians and Family Doctors
    • School Nurses
    • Mental Health Counselors
    • Social Workers
    • Juvenile Probation Officers
    • Detention Center Staff
    • Family Therapists
    • Substance Abuse Counselors
    • Community Health Workers

Current Undergrad and Graduate Students

    • VCU and VCU Health students, faculty and staff

VCU Priority Partner Communities

    • Residents and parents 
    • Community Leaders
    • Local Business Owners
    • Neighborhood Association Members
    • Community Organization Members and Staff

Faith-Based Groups and Programs

    • Youth Group Leaders
    • Sunday School Teachers
    • Church Volunteers
    • Faith-Based Non-Profit Staff
    • Clergy Members
    • Program Managers
    • Religious Education Coordinators

Summer and Extended-Day Youth Camps

    • Camp Directors
    • Camp Counselors
    • Camp Activity Coordinators
    • Camp Volunteers
    • Sports Camp Coaches
    • Art and Music Camp Instructors

Anyone Who Works With or Engages Youth

    • Sports Coaches
    • Dance Instructors
    • Art and Music Teachers
    • Scout Leaders
    • Youth Program Coordinators
    • Life Skills Coaches



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A Regional Need for Workforce Development

The Advanced Certificate in Youth Development Management emerged from a collaborative effort initiated by an OST partnership with the Mary and Frances Youth Center in November 2023. By equipping individuals with essential skills and knowledge, the program endeavors to cultivate a skilled workforce capable of meeting the diverse needs of youth in Richmond and Virginia. Ultimately, the impact of this initiative extends beyond individual career advancement, fostering robust workforce development and strengthening connections between trained certificate holders and youth engagement, thereby nurturing enduring careers in this vital sector.