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2 Youth Civic Engagement and Leadership
Pages 5-24

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From page 5...
... He emphasized that "before tapping into the power, creativity and leadership of young people, it is important to understand how they view the world, society, and system that upholds the status quo." His poem, titled "Lost Child," was a meditation on the roots and conse quences of gun violence and on society's failure to understand and respond appropriately, and it ended by juxtaposing the "tough guy" persona of 1 See https://www.youtube.com/watch? list=PLGTMA6QkejfjOd2yF7NtGK5Vos1UGcQm l&v=­pgq2MYTQZMk to watch the recording of the spoken word poetry (accessed Novem­ ber 3, 2023)
From page 6...
... Todres said that his research focuses on children's rights, youth participation, human rights education, and related topics. Todres said that the panel aimed to explore youth civic participation and "the frameworks and challenges that shape youth leadership." He described the context that has characterized the present-day landscape, remarking that although youth leadership has garnered greater attention in recent years -- for instance, through the "celebrated global cases" of Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai -- youth participation and leadership have a long history in society and in this country, including as part of the civil rights movement.
From page 7...
... Highlights from the panel are provided in Box 2-1. To begin, Todres invited each speaker to share some of the experiences that inform their perspectives on youth civic engagement and leadership.
From page 8...
... • Environmental justice and addressing climate change is becoming a more common focus of grassroots youth organizations. (Cόrdova)
From page 9...
... and pointing out the value of each component (youth services, youth development, leadership development, youth civic engagement, and youth organizing)
From page 10...
... 10 FIGURE 2-1  Youth engagement continuum. SOURCE: Córdova presentation, September 19, 2022.
From page 11...
... Noguera commented on the importance of engaging youth on topics such as these because otherwise "we will leave out a growing number of young people whose economic circumstances don't give them the privilege to think only about their identity." Noguera used his experience having taught at the college level for 30 years to distinguish the issues that affluent young people are focused on (questions of personal identity such as sexuality and race) from those that more working-class young people are focused on (which include more global issues such as climate change, growing inequality, and the global refugee crisis)
From page 12...
... Ginwright said that he sees the historical context of youth organizing similarly to how Cόrdova does, and he outlined three waves of youth organizing around "various forms of justice and injustice." First, he said, was the Civil Rights Era organizing, such as that of the Black Panther Party, which was focused more on identity and trying to influence the political consciousness of young Black people in order to effect systemic change. Ginwright said that this form of organizing happened through chapters across the United States and was the "epicenter of where we began to see young people taking on and trying to change systems."
From page 13...
... . Noguera then reiterated his earlier points about the differences between working-class youth, who are often forced to take on adult responsibilities, and affluent youth, who are often able to attend college, do internships, and travel, due to parental support and the absence of work responsibilities Thus, he said, "we have to keep class circumstances in mind in this discussion about youth; otherwise, we'll end up with broad generalizations that don't help us in understanding the particular needs facing young people from lower-income backgrounds right now across the country." To further elaborate on this example, Noguera spoke 3 See https://aflcio.org/about/history/labor-history-events/lowell-mill-women-form union (accessed December 29, 2022)
From page 14...
... from communities over the past couple decades has had a disparate impact on communities. GOALS OF YOUTH CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP The next question Todres posed to the panel involved the desired goals and aims of youth civic engagement and leadership.
From page 15...
... ­Ginwright concluded by saying that this project provided the students with a different texture and reality of civic engagement than what is typi cally taught, enabling them to advocate for and involve themselves in an issue that was strongly connected to their lives and identities. Todres added that ­Ginwright's example shows how many older civic engage ment models are not about power sharing and youth leadership but rather "drawing resources from young people and their participation." Next, Cόrdova spoke about the importance of organizations or individuals "actually do[ing]
From page 16...
... She noted that even if a campaign is not successful, the understanding and skills young people gain in analysis, assessment, and organization -- as well as the community and support system they build -- will be valuable in the long term, and she suggested that this situation is similar to the "you may have lost the battle, but you haven't lost the war" saying. Cόrdova explained that having this bigger picture perspective enables the young people involved "to understand that even if they had won there would probably be another fight, and they're still working towards a longer-term vision and agenda of what they want their communities to look like." STRATEGIES FOR YOUTH CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP Todres then referred back to Noguera's earlier statement regarding the importance of partnering with young people to understand the issues that matter to their lives and asked how organizations that are less familiar with working directly with young people might go about engaging them in this work.
From page 17...
... Noguera emphasized that young people must understand "there's an art to building alliances, there's an art to using media effectively that they need to learn if we're going to be successful." He said that because people are now so used to speaking only with those who already agree with them on social media, they do not realize it is important to reach 5 See https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/workers-united-the-delano-grape-strike-and boycott.htm (accessed November 29, 2022)
From page 18...
... Ginwright then said that the best way to achieve more effective adult leadership in ­youth-­organizing spaces is to actively and intentionally gather experienced adults to engage in conversations about how adults can effectively work with young ­people. When asked by Todres how to get entities to begin focusing on adults and prepare them to support young people, ­Ginwright suggested that organizations in youth development that want to shift focus to youth organizing should partner with those that have experience doing this type of work.
From page 19...
... He commented that in this situation, young people successfully engaged state institutions regarding the issue of ­unallocated tax revenue and made beneficial change possible. Noguera added that "the state has an important role to play with respect to its investments in young people," sharing the example of a suc cessful ballot measure in San Francisco that allocated a percentage of the city's budget to youth activities, thus substantially increasing the funds available to young people and youth-serving organizations.8 He said that a similar ballot measure was later passed in Alameda County.
From page 20...
... She added that "participating in that process can really help redirect resources to the types of things that communities actually value." SUCCESS STORIES FOR YOUTH CIVIC ENGAGEMENT To conclude the structured discussion, Todres requested success s­tories from the panel, especially focusing on the strategies they have used to provide young people with a platform to exercise their power. Cόrdova spoke of her experience persuading philanthropic partners to invest in the work of young people as well as building capacity of those organizations that were working with young people.
From page 21...
... He also spoke about the Black ­Organizing Project's advocacy to replace school safety officers in Oakland with wellness officers or others who can understand and support young ­people instead of approaching public safety through "more discipline and coercion." Finally, Noguera discussed advocacy by youth organizers to remove police presence from schools in Los Angeles. While this campaign did not succeed in meeting that goal, Noguera noted that the youth ­organizers' analysis and presentation of this issue -- which involved examining the data regarding what police were being used for in schools and demon strating it was largely for noncriminal offenses -- resulted in resources being "redirected towards counselors and social workers, the kinds of people that provide the support young people need in schools." Noguera said this is "a reminder that when you combine good research with orga nizing and advocacy, you can get things done" and that, even if young people do not win, "this is a protracted effort that we want them to engage in, and sometimes we do prevail." Todres concluded the structured discussion by noting that the success stories discussed were mainly from organizers in California and saying that there are other states where it has been even more difficult for youth organizers to advocate for change successfully.
From page 22...
... . See also "Youth organizing has won reforms, taught philanthropy important lessons about inclusive civic engagement, and informed intergenerational efforts to address health and related inequalities" (Terriquez and Williams, 2023)
From page 23...
... This indicates that school leaders may feel threatened by this kind of work and may not be the kind of allies that are needed. Cόrdova continued the conversation by emphasizing the education system's "antagonistic relationship with students, versus understanding students as having a valued stake in the conversation around how the system should be structured." She suggested that this results in generally combative interactions with systemslevel officials such as school boards and superintendents, who perceive youth organizers as people "here to fight with us" instead of people who want to improve the system so that more students are learning, more teachers have better conditions, and everyone experiences a healthier environment.
From page 24...
... To conclude the panel, Noguera reflected on how "climate change manifests itself differently in different communities," from environmental degradation to asthma to higher rates of pollution, which requires precision about which aspects of the environment are a focus in which communities.


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