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

July 15, 2007
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.

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.

6 Keys to Creating Effective Youth Councils delves into the nuts and bolts of creating a youth council. This sections focuses on two essentials — laying the foundation and supporting youth action — and offers tested options for achieving six key tasks associated with these two objectives. There are two types of action required to create an effective council. If your state or community has an established, staffed and funded council, you may want to skim the first three keys associated with laying a strong foundation and focus on the second three to learn about strategies for increasing the effectiveness of your council and its members.

Resources includes basic information about a range of youth councils, a list of additional available resources, samples of youth council enabling legislation and samples of youth council application forms.

This guide should provide you with the basic information, advice, tools and resources necessary to create effective youth councils.