Community Leadership And Action

Across the globe we observed efforts by young people to change policies that directly affected their lives. Through working on these campaigns and broader social movements young people developed and practiced a range of leadership and organizing skills.

Youth organizers from Padres & Jóvenes Unidos head towards the capitol to meet with legislators.

In addition to their relevance to building healthy and just democratic societies, leadership and action experiences are relevant to school and the workplace. Information gathering and persuasive speech are directly related to academic standards. Skills related to teamwork, communication, strategic thinking, and messaging are also central features of professional work in the global knowledge economy.

Our research identified the following five “leadership and action” outcomes:
Illustration of three people, arm in arm

  • Planning and Strategizing. Youth organizers developed action plans, identified who had power related to specific issues, decided on strategy, and modified strategy in response to unexpected events.
  • Teamwork, Group-Decision Making, and Facilitation. Youth gained extensive practice working with others on group tasks, such as recruiting new members, making decisions about campaigns, and preparing for presentations.
  • Evidence-Based Policy Arguments. Across most sites, young people learned to analyze statistical information, search the internet for relevant facts, or design their own surveys.
  • Raising Awareness. Youth organizers gained experience broadcasting their message using a variety of media, including video, Twitter, visual art, and performance.
  • Communication and Persuasive Speech. Campaigns often included interactions with public decision-makers, such as elected officials, school district administrators, or police officers. These opportunities offered rich opportunities for youth to improve their public speaking.