#3. Youth Voice & Leadership
Programs should authentically partner with youth to build their leadership skills, including giving them meaningful opportunities to plan, implement, and evaluate program activities. Young people are more likely to stay engaged in the program when their ideas and contributions are included.
Research and Reports
Tools and Templates
- University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development. “Citizenship and Leadership.” This online page contains blogs, recommended research articles, and pre-recorded presentations on the topics of citizenship and leadership in youth programs. It’s a great way to keep up with the latest resources on building youth leadership skills in afterschool programs.
- Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, Augsburg College. “2013-14 Northstar Youth Worker Fellowship Papers.” This collection of papers was written by a cohort of experienced youth work practitioners in Minnesota during the course of their Northstar Youth Worker Fellowship. Many of the papers explore questions of autonomy, authority, and youth leadership in afterschool and youth programs.
- Toshalis, E. and Nakkula, M. (2013). “Motivation, Engagement, and Student Voice.” Students at the Center. What motivates students to engage in learning and achieve academic success? The authors synthesize research on achievement motivation, school engagement, and student voice, concluding that the more educators use student-centered approaches to reinforce student agency, the more motivation and engagement are likely to rise.
- The FreeChild Project. (2008). “Youth Voice Toolbox.” This online toolbox provides a one-stop resource – including tools, examples, and other resources - for incorporating youth voice and engagement into your afterschool program. It is especially helpful for those just beginning to incorporate youth voice into their program, but has something for all levels of experience.
- Advocates for Youth. “Youth-Adult Partnerships.” This page includes information, tips, and even lesson plans on how youth and adults can work together in genuine partnership. In addition to general youth engagement resources, it also provides resources focused on using youth-adult partnerships to promote young people’s reproductive and sexual health.
- Martin, S., Pittman, K., Ferber, T. and McMahon, A. (2007). “Building Effective Youth Councils: A practical guide to engaging youth in policy making.” Washington, DC: The Forum for Youth Investment. This is a helpful guide for creating or strengthening youth councils. It contains 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.
- “Motivation, Engagement, and Student Voice Toolkit.” Students at the Center. This toolkit accompanies the report of the same name in the “Research and Reports” section of this page. It describes activities and materials that help educators understand and apply the concepts of achievement motivation, school engagement, and student voice.