Ways CILs Can Conduct Effective Outreach to Youth with Disabilities from Minority Backgrounds: Focus Group Findings
- Share clear information about programs and activities on social media platforms, CIL websites, and with community partners.
- Center the content, structure, and purpose of meetings, programs, and activities in outreach materials. Highlight transportation options and meeting accommodations.
- Note any small incentives for participation, such as refreshments or a gift card.
We conducted three virtual focus groups with out-of-school youth (OSY) with disabilities who come from minority backgrounds to learn about how Centers for Independent Living (CILs) can improve their outreach and programs for this population. Conducted over Zoom in June 2022, each focus group included 7 to 10 participants who lived in Illinois, New York City, or South Carolina. Participants shared that CIL staff interested in connecting with youth from minority backgrounds might consider assessing and strengthening their outreach strategies. Despite finding out about the focus group over social media, presumably through CILs’ own social media accounts, most focus group participants had never participated in CIL programs or activities. This suggests that CILs have a broader social media reach beyond their established consumer base, which they can use to reach more OSY. CILs should ensure their social media and websites include clear information about groups and activities, including how youth can speak to someone to learn more. Social media is also an opportunity for engagement through interactions on posts. CILs could ask people to comment with a fun fact or answer a question (for example, what is your favorite snack?) to start building connections with users across the CIL’s social media network. To expand their reach, CILs can make posts accessible to community partners and encourage consumers to bring a friend to a new group or activity.