Joslyn Young


Joslyn Young worked with Research for Action to examine adolescent literacy practices in two area after-school programs where youth gain social literacy skills to become confident writers, readers and producers of media texts.  Her goal was to understand how these youth can apply their social literacy expertise to in-school academic literacy.

Nationwide, and in the Philadelphia area, adolescents are underperforming on school literacy  assessments.  By 11th grade, only 11 percent of Chester-Upland School District students and 37 percent of Philadelphia School District students score proficient in reading on required state tests.   Advocates for low income and minority urban youth identify improving adolescent literacy as both an educational and social necessity because students must be academically literate to graduate high school and socially literate to participate in civic life.  While students engage in social literacy much of the time, educators are struggling with how to (re)engage adolescents in academic literacy.

By investigating the out-of-school settings in which youth are motivated to engage in social literacy activities, Joslyn and RFA identified elements of these programs that might be transferable to academic settings.  The project focused on two sites: Chester Voices for Change and the Philadelphia Student Union. 

Joslyn received a Bachelor of Arts from Swarthmore College in 2010 with major in Educational Studies and Sociology. She is one of only six students in 2010 to receive the Swarthmore Lang Opportunity Scholar award and has an array of experience directly related to youth literacy.  She developed Chester Voices for Change (one of the two project sites), and led a six week long youth media program in which teens fully produced a short film about local issues in Chester.  In 2008, she was a Youth Media Intern at WHYY, Chinatown Youth Radio Philadelphia and worked with the Chester Police Activities League.