Youth Organizing is transforming individuals


Definition: Grounded in racial, gender, and economic justice, youth organizing is the process of engaging young people in building power for systemic change while supporting their individual and collective development. 
While youth organizing can take many forms, the field is guided by four key imperatives:

Engage youth most impacted by injustice and systemic oppression

  • Center the lived experiences of injustice and oppression 
  • Include and celebrate diverse perspectives and cultural backgrounds 
  • Create youth affirming environments 

Support the leadership and holistic development of young people

  • Offer young people meaningful opportunities for leadership and decision making 
  • Support the development of concrete leadership and organizing skills
  • Promote healthy social emotional and identity development
  • Develop critical consciousness of socio-political conditions 

Strengthen intergenerational and intersectional movements

  • Recognize young people as part of multiple communities and constituencies
  • Address the overlapping issues impacting young people and their communities
  • Value youth leadership and youth/adult partnerships  
  • Support young people in catalyzing intergenerational movements
  • Create pathways for lifelong civic engagement and social justice leadership

Shift power dynamics to create systemic change

  • Develop strategy by analyzing issues and assessing political conditions 
  • Build power through base building, strategic alliances, and shifting public narratives
  • Engage young people in collective action to advance policy and influence decision makers
  • Achieve systemic changes at the local, state, and national level that benefit whole communities 
What are the Impacts of Youth Organizing?
Youth-Driven Social Change

Youth organizers have always played a critical role in creating real change for whole communities. Across the country, youth organizers have scored important political victories, such as introducing restorative justice models to replace punitive school discipline policies and leading the fight to pass the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.


Strong Leadership Skills & Civic Engagement

Youth organizing helps young people understand their experiences, on an individual, community and systemic level. The training and practice of community organizing educates, provides deep exposure to the political process and offers an opportunity for young people to become lifelong leaders on issues that matter to them and their communities.


Powerful Young People Achieving and Thriving

Youth organizing involves a powerful blend of culturally and contextually resonant supports, from academic tutoring to mental health and healing. Involvement in youth organizing contributes to the social-emotional and academic development of young people in powerful ways, while also promoting their civic and community engagement.


(Youth organizing is) a triple bottom line investment: you get an issue benefit, you get a community benefit, and you get a leadership development benefit for young people.

Dr. Robert Ross, CEO of the California Endowment