ReGenerations: Leadership Pipeline Toolkit
The Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FCYO) launched its ReGenerations: Leadership Pipeline Initiative in 2010, following a national field scan of over 150 youth organizing groups across the country. The scan identified a clear need to support young people’s holistic development and their ability to stay connected to social justice as they become adults. Youth organizers were asking critical questions including:
- In addition to helping young people develop leadership skills, how can we support our members’ many basic needs?
- How can we support young people who graduate from our programs to get jobs, go to college, and stay involved in social justice?
In response to these questions, the Leadership Pipeline initiative was designed to develop a framework for a comprehensive social justice leadership pipeline and support to 20 youth organizing groups from across the country to strengthen their holistic supports for young people. The Movement Strategy Center (MSC) was brought on as the capacity building provider for the initiative, to coordinate technical assistance and convenings from 2010-12.
Our framework focuses on how youth organizing groups can be the entry point in a pipeline that builds a regenerating base of leaders for social justice movements. This pipeline starts in middle and high school and focuses on low-income young people and young people of color. It supports young people’s development as leaders and as healthy, whole people. It includes developing strong youth organizing groups as well as creating deliberate agreements with a variety of partnering institutions that provide “stepping stones” and a clear road map for people to continue leadership development and expression as they age. Finally, it builds intentional pathways to employment, postsecondary education, and continued social justice involvement.
The structure of the pipeline is defined by three stages that align with the political and personal development of young people within youth organizing programs. The ‘Entry Stage’ is where young people are first recruited to programs or activities that introduce them to organizing work. Next is the ‘Development Stage’ in which young people build their political consciousness and skills through structured curriculum and hands-on campaign organizing and reflection. Last is the ‘Transition Stage,’ which captures their involvement in post-high school opportunities to deepen their skills and analysis and further their engagement with the broader social justice movement.
Over the course of the initiative it became clear that while many organizations had refined models for various stages of the Pipeline, realities of budget and staffing constraints, and the internal and external pressure to produce campaign victories left many organizations less able to transition their young leaders into new opportunities.
The ReGenerations: Leadership Pipeline Toolkit that follows was created to provide curriculum and tools for groups interested in improving their work at each stage of the pipeline, but with a specific emphasis on supporting staff in facilitating young people’s transition in the final stage. We hope these tools will be an important resource in supporting the next generational of social justice leaders.