Report – Not just a blip in someone’s life: integrating brokering practices into out-of-school programming

We’re putting all of this time into these programs that have to be short-lived, by their nature. But what are we doing to make sure that this isn’t just a blip in someone’s life? Can it be part of a sustainable learning path?

– Program educator, 2/3/2014


The result of a participatory knowledge building process facilitated by Hive Research Lab with a larger community of after-school providers, the Hive NYC Learning Network, this paper makes a case for the importance of brokering future learning opportunities to youth as a programmatic goal for informal learning organizations.

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;
  • enabling potential brokers to efficiently locate appropriate future learning opportunities for each young person who approaches them.