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Primer on Creating Effective Youth Panels

Merita Irby, Joel Tolman, Melissa Mullins
November 1, 2011
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.

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:

  1. Because young people deserve a place at the table – they have the right and the responsibility to a say in all the decisions, institutions and processes that affect them.
  2. Because young people bring new and important perspectives to discussions and decisions about their schools – they are in a unique position to understand what’s working, what’s not and what needs to change.
  3. Because young people are critical stakeholders in the school reform process--their opinions, their buy-in and their commitment are all essential if any meaningful change is to take root.
  4. Because young people’s participation has proven equally critical to their own learning and development, the development of organizations and the development of healthy communities.