FCYO's Youth Community Organizing Resource Exchange (Youth CORE) is a set of activities that aim to help build a stronger and more stable youth organizing field in the U.S. Launched in 2015, Youth CORE’s activities bring together a large number of youth organizers from across the country to share learnings, build relationships, and develop common strategy. These learning opportunities bring together established organizations, newer organizations, informal organizations, and emerging individual leaders. In addition, while maintaining a focus on youth organizing groups working with high school and middle school aged young people, Youth CORE supports connections between diverse forms of youth organizing such as organizations working with high school age young people and those organizing young adults.
Youth CORE activities are aimed at a wide cross section of the field, will include both peer sharing and outside expert presentations, and will focus three primary issues:
- Building strong and sustainable organizations (financial management, board development, fundraising)
- Supporting lifelong leaders (providing holistic services, supporting alumni transitions, and tracking youth outcomes)
- Building and expanding power (voter engagement, building coalitions, addressing scale, alliances with adult organizations)
FCYO is the only national intermediary directly focused on building resources for the field of youth organizing, and has operated since 2000 as a grantmaker, funder advocate, and a sponsor of research, all focused on supporting youth organizing groups around the country. In a statement released by FCYO in early 2015, Executive Director Eric Braxton outlined the impetus for the Youth CORE project:
“In 2014 we saw young people rising to challenge injustice in ways we could not have predicted. This included massive protests against police brutality in Ferguson, MO, New York, and beyond; continued pressure from undocumented young people for real immigration reform; a host of victories addressing racial disparities in school discipline; and young people leading the People’s Climate March in New York. It is essential that there are structures to support the ongoing engagement and the growing power of these young activists, and opportunities to bring them together to learn from each other and create shared strategy.”
In 2015, FCYO formed a representative Action Team comprised of members from the youth organizing field, to provide strategic and responsive direction over Youth CORE. This team current consists of representatives from national youth organizing networks and key local organizations.
In order to engage a large number of groups in an ongoing way, FCYO’s Youth CORE strategy will partner with other social justice intermediaries and use the following approaches:
- Mapping The Youth Organizing Field: FCYO has developed an online Youth Organizing Landscape Map that offers funders, youth organiziers and the general public a searchable database of the field of youth organizing.
- Field Wide Convenings: Youth CORE annual convenings will bring together a wide cross section of the youth organizing field with tracks designed for high school aged youth organizing and groups working with older young people as well as established and newer organizations.
- Webinars: FCYO will offer six webinars each year, focusing on topics relating to organizational development, supporting the holistic needs of young people, and building youth movement power. FCYO’s first session will focus on the release of our Leadership Pipeline Toolkit, which offers important lessons for building and strengthening organizational leadership development programs.
- Learning & Exchange Fund: Starting in 2017, FCYO will provide mini-grants to youth organizing groups in support of individual and multi-group collaborative projects that have a clear learning goal.
FCYO has also engaged with our Board of Advisors, as well as a larger group of funders currently engaged in supporting youth organizing around the country on developing the Youth CORE initiative.
This interactive webinar, held on November 14, 2018, brought together people from across the national youth organizing field to discuss major takeaways from the 2018 midterm elections. This exciting intergenerational panel offered analysis of the election, shared how their organizations are developing young people to lead electoral strategies, and answered questions from participants.
Throughout the history of social movements in the U.S. and around the world, young people have played critical leadership roles. Over the past several decades, the youth organizing sector has grown in strength and impact. Yet most of our groups still struggle to achieve our ultimate aim - the Power to transform our communities. On March 15, 218, FCYO invited youth organizers and their allies to a virtual forum on to discuss key considerations for building meaningful power in the U.S. Over the past several years FCYO has analyzed how the youth organizing field approaches power building. We believe the central challenges facing youth organizers are reflective of those faced by organizers across the country. At the heart of those challenges is this critical question: how do we build the kind of power that transforms the conditions of everyday life for our people?
Across the country, youth organizers have scored important policy victories, such as advocating for greater access to college prep curricula and introducing restorative justice models to replace punitive school discipline policies. As the field of youth organizing expands, a growing body of research is illuminating our understanding of youth organizing and the myriad ways in which participation in organizing shapes the lives of young people. Emerging research shows that 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.
This webinar highlighted emerging research across various studies on how 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, particularly for young people living in low-income communities and communities of color. This new research is beginning to indicate the engaging young people in organizing to address issues in their communities is in fact one of the most effective ways to support their holistic development.
In this second webinar, FCYO and Global Action Project, a social justice youth media organization, lifted up impactful community-based transformative media organizing, in relation to campaigns that seek to expand the narrative framework around "sanctuary" and build local community defense infrastructure.
On May 9th, 2017 FCYO held the first of a two-part webinar series on Sanctuary and Transformative Media Organizing. The first webinar focuses on how youth organizers are defining sanctuary and organizing around it in cities, neighborhoods, and schools.