Free for All: Youth Specialties Features UYWI’s Innovative Resource Library

In UYWI’s ongoing effort to make youth ministry training resources more accessible to urban youth workers, we forged a partnership in 2009 with “Jesus, Justice, and Technology” innovators Techmission to digitize all of our available training content dating back to 2001 and include it in their growing resource library. As of this month, 700+ resources are available for FREE to anyone wishing to grow in their youth ministry capacity.

Thanks to Youth Specialties for celebrating this resource with us. Here is the case study they published as part of their “Free for All: A Leap Forward in Training Youth Leaders” article. Read the full article here.

A Case Study for Training Innovation

In February 2010, Urban Youth Workers Institute (UYWI) reshaped the landscape of youth ministry training in collaboration with faith-filled technology innovators TechMission.

UYWI has been training leaders of young people in America’s largest cities since 1997. Birthed by Boomer and Gen X youth workers convened at a series of summits in the mid-90s, the early days of UYWI looked programmatically like most other youth ministry training organizations except packaged and formatted for a distinctly “urban” audience. Conferences and training events defined UYWI’s program model. Excellent production and reliable content, combined with subsidized pricing that considered the economic realities of largely volunteer youth leaders, quickly propelled UYWI as the leading brand for urban youth ministry training.

But youth ministry is an inherently transitory profession, so Millenials began swelling the ranks of youth workers in the early 2000s. Combined with the economic downturn that began in 2008, UYWIembraced the need to innovate a low-cost, scalable training delivery system once again.

Enter TechMission, a Boston-based technology firm that exists to unite “Jesus, Justice, and Technology” since 2000. At first their mission focused on overcoming the digital divide that existed through the first several decades of personal computing and throughout the 90s. But as technology became cheaper and more accessible in the early 2000s, they turned their attention to building a low-cost platform to connect like-minded urban leaders to share resources, ideas, and best practices for scalable Kingdom results.

To that end, they launched in 2008.  Over the last two years, has grown into the largest digital library of holistic ministry training content anywhere in the world. With TechMission’s leadership, partners such as Christian Community Development Association, Salvation Army, World Vision, and others have emptied their shelves of formerly proprietary content to build a 70,000 volume (and growing) library of resources freely received and freely given for Kingdom impact.

This month, UYWI became the first urban youth ministry training brand to invest in TechMission’s open source training delivery system, digitizing all available content dating back to 2001 as part of the library. Their shared conviction: Why leave the content packaged in obsolete formats and mostly unused in archived storage facilities when it could be digitized and utilized at relatively low-cost for generations to come?

For those who worry that freely giving away the goods is not financially sustainable, consider Google, iTunes, Facebook, YouTube, and thousands of Web 2.0 business models that give freely far more content than they sell. Quality services freely distributed to meet felt needs generates credibility that allows providers to monetize specialized services.

Kudos to Larry Acosta of UYWI and Andrew Sears of TechMission and their teams for pioneering what it means to share ideas and training resources in the Information Economy. Here’s to hoping other youth ministry trainers follow their lead.

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