We aim to provide a community where youth and youth-serving practitioners can come together to share ideas, resources, and experiences in order to promote meaningful youth engagement in all aspects of programming.
What is meaningful youth engagement?
Meaningful youth engagement is an inclusive, intentional, mutually-respectful partnership between youth and adults whereby power is shared, respective contributions are valued, and young people's ideas, perspectives, skills and strengths are integrated into the design and delivery of programs, strategies, policies, funding mechanisms and organizations that affect their lives and their communities, countries and globally.
Meaningful youth engagement recognizes and seeks to change the power structures that prevent young people from being considered experts in regard to their own needs and priorities, while also building their leadership capacities. Youth includes a full spectrum of the population aged 10-29 regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnic identity, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability, political affiliation, or physical location.
Our membership includes youth development practitioners dedicated to ensuring meaningful youth engagement in programming globally. Members represent organizations big and small, profit and non-profit, local and international. We welcome any members interested in keeping up with youth engagement efforts in different geographic regions and programming sectors, including but not limited to: workforce development; health; education; democracy, rights, and governance; and youth leadership.
Contribute and disseminate a shared definition of ‘meaningful youth engagement’ for YouthPower and the broader community of practice.
Support the development of youth engagement measurement indicators for YouthPower and the broader community of practice.
Create a space for the sharing of youth engagement experiences and group problem solving.
Develop a clearinghouse of evidence, resources, and tools on youth engagement hosted on youthpower.org.
Bring the youth voice into YouthPower activities.
What have we done?
Created a YouthPower definition for ‘meaningful youth engagement’ to be incorporated into YouthPower materials and activities
Developed a list of illustrative youth engagement indicators for practitioner uptake
Designed a grant-making program to fund the development of youth-created videos highlighting the benefits and impacts of youth engagement in programAchievements:
Three grants have been awarded to create a repository of videos that highlight young people sharing experiences of being engaged in youth programs, along with the benefits and impacts of their participation:
• JA Worldwide: Amplifying the Voice of Young People around the World
• Komo Learning Centres: KLC Youth-Led Club Documentary Project
The first three videos from KLC are can be viewed here.
• Restless Development: Inspire, Influence and Inform: a video series highlighting young people’s role in Positive Youth Development programs
What are we doing?
Providing recommended entry points and guidelines for youth engagement programming
Curating youth engagement-related resources and tools
Collecting evidence on how youth engagement impacts program outcomes
Hosting webinars and twitter chats with youth on various topics including what youth engagement looks like in the field
- Creating and maintaining a platform for youth to ask questions and share ideas related to youth engagement
- We are partnering with Young America’s Business Trust (YABT) to strengthen youth engagement across all CoPs
- Technical Brief: Making the Pitch for Youth Engagement
- Six Tips for Increasing Meaningful Youth Engagement in Programs
- Measuring Youth Engagement: Guidance for Monitoring and Evaluating Youth Programs
- Literature Review of Evidence of Youth Engagement in Development
- Engaging Youth in Participatory Research and Evaluation
- Child and Youth Participation in Programming for Children Affected by HIV/AIDS: A Review of the Evidence
- Youth Councils: An Effective Way to Promote Youth Participation
- Strengthening Communities Through Youth Participation
- At the Table: Youth in Decision-Making
- Youth Involvement in Evaluation and Research
- Partners and Allies: Toolkit for Meaningful Adolescent Girl Engagement
- A Girl's Eye View: A Literature Review on Girl Engagement
- Search for Common Ground - Supporting the Design and Implementation of Youth-Led Research Projects
- UNICEF Innocenti (2017). Research Briefs - Methods: Conducting Research with Adolescents in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
- USAID (2014). Youth Engagement in Development: Effective Approaches and Action-Oriented Recommendations for the Field
- DFID - CSO Youth Working Group (2010). Youth Participation in Development
- UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre (2015). Youth as Researchers Training Manual
- Colorado's Youth Engagement Continuum (2016)
- Sladen. Youth Engagement as a Means, not an End
- Youth Driven Spaces Initiative
- Youth-Focused Evaluation: American Evaluation Association's Blog Series
Sarah Sladen, Director, Youth Economic Opportunities Network (YEO Network), Making Cents International
Sarah brings to her role more than 12 years of experience in international program management, implementation, and coalition building. She has a background in workforce development, education, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution. Sarah oversees the Youth Economic Opportunities Network (YEO Network) and the Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit at Making Cents International.
Mike Sweigart, independent consultant, formerly Program Officer for Youth Participation, National Democratic Institute
Mike is an international development specialist with a focus on youth political and civic participation and inclusive and human security. In addition to coordinating NDI's youth participation portfolio, he has supported democracy assistance programs in Eastern Europe and North Africa.
Lindsey Woolf, YouthPower Learning Project Manager, Making Cents International
Lindsey Woolf, MSc, is an international development project manager and youth organizing specialist with experience leading and facilitating youth-led organizations, movements and campaigns, as well as developing youth leadership programming and trainings. Lindsey holds a MSc in Anthropology and Development Management from the London School of Economics.
Dr. Christy Olenik, Vice President, Technical Services, Making Cents International
Dr. Olenik has 25+ years of experience leading, designing, managing, and evaluating holistic youth programs in the US and internationally. She was a co-author on the 2014 USAID publication Youth Engagement in Development: Effective Approaches and Action-Oriented Recommendations for the Field.
Caity Campos, formerly Global Practice Specialist - Youth & Workforce Development, DAI
Caity is a youth and workforce development specialist and young professional entrepreneur specializing in technical service delivery, new business development, knowledge management, and marketing and fundraising for international youth development programming.