Democracy, human rights and governance (DRG) assistance programs involving youth can be examined through sub-sectors, such as participation in elections, involvement in political parties, civic engagement, and others. However, it is important for all youth DRG programs to account for broader dynamics associated with politics, power and sociocultural norms as they relate to youth civic and political participation, regardless of the type of assistance being delivered. This section includes resources that explain how programs can assist young people in overcoming barriers to their political participation and transforming power structures to attain meaningful political influence. These resources provide guidance for structuring all types of assistance for youth political and civic participation. 

Youth Political Participation Programming Guide - NDI

The National Democratic Institute's (NDI's) Youth Political Participation Programming Guide is designed to help democracy and governance practitioners deliver more effective youth programs. The guide draws on the needs and perspectives expressed by young political leaders and activists from four global regions, lessons learned from NDI programs involving youth, and the work of other democracy & governance assistance organizations. The main features of the guide include: Contextual information on why youth development and political participation are important; A description of NDI’s unified theory of change for improving youth political participation; Lessons for structuring effective youth political participation programs; and reviews of effective NDI youth programs in Jordan and Kosovo.

Youth Participation Theory of Change Resource

Oxfam Australia's Theory of Change (ToC) explores what needs to happen in order for young active citizens, institutions and communities to create positive, equitable and sustainable change together. This meta-theory was developed through a series of workshops which brought together various stakeholders from around the world, including young people working in civil society, youth activists, Oxfam staff, Oxfam partners, in-country programming staff and young people from communities in which Oxfam works. This ToC has identified three crucial routes (paths) for supporting youth active citizenship to enable collective impact, including: Young women and young men participate in decision making in affected communities; young women and young men from different regions and fields are organizing and taking collective action; and young women and young men participate in formal decision-making in institutions. 

Civic Purpose: An Integrated Construct for Understanding Civic Development in Adolescence

This article introduces civic purpose as a construct for learning about civic development in adolescence. Civic purpose, defined as a sustained intention to contribute to the world beyond the self through civic or political action, integrates the components of motivation, civic activity, and future-oriented civic intention. The authors present results from a mixed methods longitudinal study that used the civic purpose framework in which 1,578 high school seniors took a survey, 50 participated in an interview, and 9 additional adolescent “civic exemplars” participated in both the survey and the interview. Two years later, 480 participants took the survey again, and 34 participated in a second interview. A small percentage of the study subjects exhibited full civic purpose across three different types of civic activity (political, community service, expressive), while a larger percentage demonstrated precursory forms of civic purpose, with evidence of some but not all components of civic purpose. Key contributors to the development of civic purpose were: identity salience, beliefs and values, and invitation from one or more adults.