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Youth-Adult Partnership: Involving Youth in Decision Making

Youth-Adult Partnership: Involving Youth in Decision Making

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Youth-Adult Partnership: Involving Youth in Decision Making

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  1. Youth-Adult Partnership: Involving Youth in Decision Making Shepherd ZeldinProfessor of Human EcologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadison, WisconsinJulie PetrokubiProgram and Evaluation DirectorCampFirePortland, Oregon February 2011

  2. Today we will explore … • What is Youth-Adult Partnership (Y-AP)? • What do best practices look like? • How may we use these best practices to promote sexual health among adolescents? • How is “Being Y-AP Savvy” a resource for identifying and implementing best practices in programs?

  3. What is Youth-Adult Partnership?

  4. Youth-Adult Partnership: Related Terms • Youth Engagement • Youth Leadership • Youth Voice • Youth-Adult Partnership is the core strategy for engaging youth in major decisions and collaborative action in programs, organizations and communities

  5. Youth-Adult Partnership: Definition A group of youth and adults, working together on important issues, where all participants have options for engaging in planning, decision making and action according to their own interests and skills, in an environment characterized by mutual learning and respect among youth and adults.

  6. Why Engage Youth as Partners? An Issue of Youth Development… Youth need opportunities for active learning Youth need opportunities for new roles/responsibilities An Issue of Civil Society… Everyone has an important role to play Youth offer unique insight on policy/program design Legitimate opportunities to engage in the present encourage youth to engage in the future An Issue of Social Justice… Youth are isolated from public decision making/work Youth have distinct interests and perspectives

  7. Emerging Research Supports Positive Impact of Y-AP Y-AP promotes the civic, vocational & social/emotional development of youth But…young people are not the only ones who benefit from Y-AP Adults, organizations & communities also experience positive impacts

  8. Y-AP Promotes Youth Development Civic Development (skills, attitudes, awareness) Social/Emotional Development (belonging, efficacy) Vocational Development (skills, social capital) Community Impact just brought out some of my good qualities. Like, I’ve always been outspoken. But now I know how to speak out in a good way so that my voice can be heard...Now I can get a group of adults’ attention and get them to listen to me - conference with me - like a peer.” (Youth Mobilizer in Tennesse)

  9. Y-AP Promotes Staff Development Professional Development (skills, confidence) Social/Emotional Development (generativity) “I think we probably had our best response with the last kid who was on there. If you look at it more closely, it was because we [adults] feel more comfortable having the youth on there. And we knew how to actually bring that person aboard, work with them immediately off the bat. It was a learning process for everyone who is on there. (Adult city council committee member in Wisconsin)

  10. Y-AP PromotesProgram & Community Development • Youth participation becomes a norm • Organizations reflect & respond to youth concerns • Public policies/programs are more effective & equitable • New coalitions emerge to address issues “We have seen a seismic shift in how the district operates …Austin Voices for Education & Youth has managed to get the attention of leaders in the district, and now those leaders expect that there will be student representation on district bodies.” (School District Administrator in Texas)

  11. Individual Reflection What are the “bright spots” in your own experience with youth-adult partnership? For example: Who have you observed who is very good at partnering with youth? What exactly does this person do that makes him/her a good partner with youth? Recall one time when you felt that you were being an excellent partner with youth. What exactly was happening that gave you this feeling?

  12. Opportunities for Youth-Adult Partnership Program Planning & Implementation Youth-Adult Partnership (Y-AP) Training & Outreach Organizing & Activism Governance & Policymaking Communication & Media Research & Evaluation Service & Philanthropy (Adapted from Zeldin, Petrokubi & MacNeil, 2007)

  13. Adult Roles in Youth-Adult Partnership • Adults may create opportunities for youth to co-lead within programs, organizations & communities • Adults may also serve as allies on issues and projects initiated by youth • SYNERGY occurs when both sides contribute

  14. What do best practices look like? Using Y-AP Savvy • Program-Level Practices (Core Ingredients) • Organizational-Level Practices (Culture of Y-AP) • Strategies for Engaging Colleagues (Managing Innovation)

  15. Program Level Practices: “Core Ingredients” for Quality Y-AP • Youth need choice, youth need options for getting involved in Y-AP. Youth get inspired when they can participate in ways consistent with their interests and skills. • Regardless of where youth choose to get involved, they need clear roles. They need to know what exactly is expected of them. • Youth need ample time and coaching to prepare for their roles. This is how they meet the high expectations.

  16. Program Level Practices: “Core Ingredients” for Quality Y-AP Y-AP is not one on one mentoring or education. Y-AP is about a group of youth and adults working together on a common issue. Y-AP happens over time, it is not a one-off event. Y-AP is about mutual respect and sharing. Youth and adults share ideas among themselves, they learn from each other, and they work together as allies on things that matter. Quality comes from implementing Y-AP in a few key functions within an organization. As the organization gets good at implementing Y-AP in those functions, then it broadens the effort. Small successes lead to solving big issues.

  17. Research Suggests… • Program-level change is not enough • Organizations report that quality youth-adult partnership required them to change “how we do business” • Promising practices are emerging around how to create an organizational (or community) “Culture of Youth-Adult Partnership”

  18. Organization Level Practices: Culture of Youth-Adult Partnership

  19. Partnership Values: Promising Practices • Organizational leaders – through word and deed- establish Y-AP as a core priority. • Group processes address issues of power and foster “safe space” for respectful dialogue • Organizational goals and actions are clearly rooted in the “lived experience” of youth

  20. Partnership Structures: Promising Practices • Offer multiple “pathways” for youth participation that vary in terms of skill, expertise and responsibility. • Establish clear youth/adult roles with policies, position descriptions and compensation • Provide youth/adults with coaching and feedback to “grow into their position”

  21. Collective Action: Promising Practices • Youth are visibly engaged in work that impacts a broader community. • Adults assist youth in strategically framing issues and connect with larger initiatives/audiences • The work models Y-AP to the larger community

  22. Organizational Reflection What are the strengths currently existing in your organization that can be built on to implement youth-adult partnership? For example: What is one part of your organization that seems especially “ready” for Y-AP? What makes you think it is ready? How does Y-AP resonate with the mission or philosophy of your organization? How exactly is it consistent or not consistent with what your organization is trying to accomplish? What sorts of dilemmas does youth-adult partnership raise for your program?

  23. ACT for Youth Was this presentation useful? Please give us your feedback: The ACT for Youth Center of Excellence connects positive youth development resources and research to practice in New York State and beyond. The Center provides: • Technical support, training, and evaluation for certain youth-serving programs funded by the NYS Department of Health. • Youth Development resources:, publications, and training, and the e-letter ACT for Youth Update. Email to subscribe. • A home base for the ACT Youth Network. Visit the network at

  24. Resources for Planning & Pondering Youth-Adult Partnership Zeldin, S. & Collura, J. (2010). Being Y-AP Savvy: A Primer on Creating & Sustaining Youth-Adult Partnerships. Ithaca, NY:ACT For Youth Center of Excellence. Camino, L., et al. (2006)Youth and Adult Leaders for Program Excellence: A Practical Guide for Program Assessment and Action Planning (YALPE). Ithaca, NY: ACT for Youth Center of Excellence.

  25. Resources forIntegrating Y-AP into your Program or Organization Zeldin, S., Petrokubi, J. & Camino, L. (2009) Youth-Adult Partnerships in Public Action: Principles, Organizational Culture and Outcomes. Washington, DC: Forum for Youth Investment. Zeldin, S., Petrokubi, J. & MacNeil, C. (2008). Youth-Adult Partnerships in decision making: Disseminating and implementing an innovative idea into established organizations and communities. American Journal of Community Psychology, 41(3). Zeldin, S. & Petrokubi, J. (2008). Youth-Adult Partnership: Impacts on individuals and communities Prevention Researcher, 15(2).