Implementing a new program or set of practices can be challenging. When the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) decided to roll out its Character Development Learning Institute (CDLI), the organization offered its support to local YMCAs (or Ys) in planning, implementing, and monitoring the quality of adult practices in five key areas. One strategy that Y-USA used to help scale the CDLI across more than 200 local YMCAs was to match Ys that were new to the initiative with those that had already experienced CDLI implementation—i.e., the “hub-and-hive model.” Y-USA identified a small set of experienced Ys (or “hubs”) and provided them with training and technical assistance to equip them to support a handful of new Ys (or the “hive”). The national organization believed this peer-supported TA model would allow Ys to benefit from their peers’ practical experiences and lessons learned. They also hoped the hubs would be familiar with many of the challenges local Ys could potentially face, and with resources they could leverage to overcome those challenges.

This brief describes five important lessons learned from Y-USA’s “hub and hive” model. The CDLI was designed to be program-agnostic and serve children and youth ages 5 to 18. As a result, the elements that made peer support useful in this initiative may be applicable in a wide variety of other youth development programmatic settings. As other programs seek to develop a peer support model for program leaders—even for projects planned on a different topic—we expect they may benefit from some of the lessons learned from the CDLI. Hubs played an important role in translating information into practical guidance and curating resources tailored to the needs of each CDLI team. Hubs also provided different types of support to facilitate the success of their hives, which included being attentive to their hives’ needs, sharing practical experiences, and helping hives prioritize efforts to ease anxiety.