Youth Development and Teen Volunteers


Lunch at the Library is a valuable youth development program that provides teens with workforce readiness skills. To enhance the experiences of your teen volunteers:

  • Talk with teens about how the skills they are developing and using by participating in Lunch at the Library can help them in the future, e.g. in the workplace or on college applications.
  • Train teens to lead programs with families who participate in the meal service to further enhance their skill set.
  • Hold exit interviews with teen volunteers to discuss what they contributed to the program, how they have enhanced their skillsets, and how they can use these skills in the future.
  • Invite human resources staff members from local companies to your teen thank you lunch, to talk with teens about applying and interviewing for jobs.
  • Write letters of recommendation for teen volunteers.
  • Obtain food handling certificates for teens that they can use to obtain jobs in the food service industry.
  • Try to find a funding source to provide teens with stipends to support their work on the project.
Youth Development Initiative 

The Lunch at the Library Youth Development Initiative aligns with six outcomes developed by the Public Libraries as Partners in Youth Development initiative* to help guide libraries in creating youth development programs that deliver the most impact for their teen volunteers.  These six outcomes are: 

  1. Youth contribute to their community.
  2. Youth feel safe in their environment.
  3. Youth have meaningful relationships with adults and peers.
  4. Youth achieve educational success.
  5. Youth have marketable skills.
  6. Youth develop personal and social skills.

*Funded by the Wallace Foundation 

The Lunch at the Library project requires all libraries receiving youth development funds as part of Lunch at the Library 2020 to plan their youth development efforts with these six outcomes in mind.

The project provides a Youth Development evaluation survey for teen volunteers to help measure whether the stated outcomes are achieved through participating libraries’ youth development volunteer/internship programs.

Lunch at the Library Youth Development Outcomes Handout pdf
Lunch at the Library Youth Development Survey for Teen Volunteers pdf

Additional Youth Development Resources

YALSA Summer Reading Teen Intern Toolkit provides information on working with teen interns during the summer.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning‘s mission is to help make evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) an integral part of education from preschool through the high school years.

The Search Institute is a nonprofit organization that studies and works to strengthen youth success in schools, youth programs, families, and communities. The Search Institute has identified 40 positive supports and strengths that young people need to succeed. Half of the assets focus on the relationships and opportunities they need in their families, schools, and communities (external assets). The remaining assets focus on the social-emotional strengths, values, and commitments that are nurtured within young people (internal assets).

“The teen volunteers were vital. They were trained and staff let them take the lead in setting up the room and serving meals while the Youth Services Librarian worked the door greeting each family.”

“I did not anticipate the strength of commitment that this project would engender… the people who worked together really formed a team. More teens then joined through word of mouth because of the positive environment they came to work and hang out with their friends.”