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Core Principles for Engaging Young People in Community Change

The principles can be implemented in a wide range of organizations, including schools, youth organizations or community centers that want to strengthen their commitment to youth leadership, or community-change focused organzations or coalitions that want to strengthen their commitment to youth involvement.

Sunday, July 1, 2007
Short Description: 
Engaging young people as partners in community change is a compelling idea, but translating that idea into effective practice requires focused attention to a range of issues. They are important but simple principles for putting the idea of youth engagement into practice.

Primer on Creating Effective Youth Panels

Based on the experience of facilitating youth panels, the feedback of young people involved and the Forum for Youth Investment's ongoing work around youth as agents of change, the Forum has created this short primer on creating student panels that aid in the process of reinventing high schools.

Youth voices are critical for several reasons:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Short Description: 
Youth voices are critical to decision making on issues such as school reform. This guide provides information on how youth panels can be a tool to meaningfully engage young people on an issue that directly affects them: improvements to their schools.
Audience Sector: 

Building Effective Youth Councils

The Forum believes that meaningful youth engagement is critical for the creation of sustainable, widespread, high-impact change in the systems and settings that can either support or hinder young people’s progress.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Short Description: 
This publication, created by the Forum for Youth Investment with National League of Cities, provides a practical guide to engaging youth in policymaking. It provides a rationale for youth councils, keys to making them effective and examples of useful documents and language.

Increase demand

To make that happen, you need:

  • Public and private will (from businesses, for instance) to compel action.
  • Political and bureaucratic will to create systemic change. An ongoing conversation – one that routinely promotes public awareness and the voice of young people and the community.
  • A way to cross traditional dividing lines – such as geography, ages and outcome areas – in order to achieve a big-picture vision for all young people.

Here are resources that address common questions:

Building Effective Youth Councils: A Practical Guide to Engaging Youth in Policy Making

The guide is divided into three parts:


The Rationale for Youth Engagement in Government provides a theoretical and historical context for youth councils by articulating the rationale for engaging youth in policy and decision-making processes and by explaining the Forum’s Principles of Youth Engagement.

Sunday, July 15, 2007
Short Description: 
The guide is designed to help states and localities create or strengthen their own youth councils. It is a synthesis of theory and practice that provides a general framework for thinking about youth councils, explaining the principles for youth action and the importance of youth engagement. It also incorporates advice and lessons from people in the field who have started or currently staff youth councils across the country. The guide incorporates examples from these youth councils to illustrate key points, focusing heavily on the youth councils in Boston, Massachusetts; Hampton, Virginia; and the state of New Mexico.

Youth-Adult Partnerships in Public Action: Principles, Organizational Culture and Outcomes

The case studies described in this report underscore the critical role that community-based organizations can play both in developing young people’s leadership abilities and driving positive community change. Specifically, the authors push beyond principles, identifying effective organizational and management practices that can help any organization committed to meaningful youth engagement advance their efforts in concrete ways. Additionally, the outcomes they identify present a useful impact framework for much-needed future program evaluation and research efforts.

Thursday, November 6, 2008
Short Description: 
The Forum partnered with the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Nonprofits to publish Youth-Adult Partnerships in Public Action: Principles, Organizational Culture and Outcomes. This study focuses on how organizations translate principles of youth engagement into practice and build a culture of partnership, as well as the outcomes – for young people, institutions and communities – that can result when they do. The research focuses on two organizations, Austin Voices for Education and Youth and Oasis Community IMPACT in Nashville, TN, but the lessons can help any organization committed to meaningful youth engagement advance their efforts in concrete ways.
Scope: 

Parent Engagement Toolkit

Three priorities that are clearly critical to student success throughout a child’s academic career are:

  • Attendance Every Day : Ensure children go to school regularly
  • Achievement Every Year :  Monitor and help children make satisfactory progress each year
  • Attainment Over Time : Set high expectations for children and plan for attaining their long-term goals

Each one is heavily influenced by the actions and thinking of parents as well as educators, community-based providers and students themselves.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Short Description: 
Parents and caregivers are arguably the most important stakeholders in a child’s educational success. With nearly 1.3 million students dropping out of high school each year, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance developed this toolkit to engage parents in dropout prevention and development strategies to ensure the success of all children. This toolkit is a resource for Dropout Summit conveners and community leaders bringing the parent voice into the planning process and the development of local and state action plans addressing the dropout crisis.

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