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Youth and Community Program

The Michigan Youth and Community Program enables young people to create community change, especially in economically dis-invested and racially segregated areas.

We work with young people and adult allies to build capacity and create change through research, evaluation, teaching, and training. We collaborate with community partners, formulate best practices, facilitate training workshops, and publish practical workbooks and scholarly papers.

We work in the South Bronx, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Mississippi Delta, Appalachia, Albuquerque, East Oakland, and other areas. In Michigan, we work in the rural Upper Peninsula, small towns, and suburbs and neighborhoods of metropolitan Detroit.

Our projects include:

  • Youth organizing and community change;
  • Youth participation in public policy;
  • Youth dialogues on race and ethnicity; and
  • Community-based participatory research and evaluation.

We believe that young people are competent citizens; that community is a unit of solution; that community change is possible; and that adults are allies to young people.

Program Core Staff

National Trainers

  • Rebecca O'Doherty, Appalshop, Whitesburg, Kentucky
  • Maureen Sedonean, Youth Leadership Institute, San Francisco
  • Nsombi Lambright, Mississippi ACLU, Jackson, Mississippi


Our work has been supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Ford Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Council of Michigan Foundations, Skillman Foundation, Centers for Disease Control, Time-Warner Foundation, Michigan Office of the Surgeon General, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Corporation for National Service, Highfield Foundation, Mott Foundation, University of Michigan, and other institutions.

Education and Training Workshops

Education and training is a core component of the Michigan Youth and Community Program.

We facilitate workshops that build the capacity of young people and adult allies to participate in addressing community issues that impact their lives.

We have facilitated local, regional, and national workshops with media groups, municipal agencies, neighborhood agencies, community foundations, and national organizations, in Mississippi.

Our Process

Our workshops engage teams of young people and adults. Teams come to workshops with ideas in mind and leave with plans in place for implementation upon return home. We provide technical assistance and support to teams to share their projects and lessons learned with one another.

Workshops are developed in collaboration with the community, build on local examples, and engage young people as peer trainers.

We prepare materials for capacity building including training curricula, experiential exercises, workbooks and resource packets, written case studies, and popular and peer-reviewed materials.

Areas of Work - Youth Organizing and Community Change

Young people can create community change! They can join together and take initiative on school reform, environmental justice, neighborhood development, civil rights, and other issues.

We work with grassroots groups and community agencies in youth-led, adult-led, and intergenerational partnerships.

  • Lifting New Voices- We built a national network of youth leaders and adult allies, involving Citizens for Community Improvement of Iowa (Des Moines), Direct Action for Rights and Equality (Providence), People United for a Better Oakland (Oakland), Southern Echo (Mississippi), Southwest Organizing Project (Albuquerque), and Youth Force (South Bronx).
  • Flint, Michigan- We involve youth and adults to plan neighborhood programs and promote school-community partnerships.
  • Mississippi Delta- We collaborate with community partners who are organizing for racial justice and challenging "schoolhouse to jailhouse."
  • Central Appalachia- We work with young people who use media to create change.
  • Youth Across the Americas- We brought youth activists from Paraguay, Chile, and New Mexico together to share experiences and formulate strategies.

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