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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.

Youth Participation in Public Policy

Young people should participate in public policy! They should identify policy issues that concern them, organize for political action, and build support for program implementation. They should know about "democracy" as a process in which they can engage; "policy" as a way to achieve their goals; and the "community" as a vehicle for their action.

They should participate because it draws upon their expertise, increases their involvement, and enables them to exercise their rights in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  • Michigan Municipal League- We collaborate with municipal agencies to involve young people in public policy.
  • Youth Policy Leadership for Social Justice Summer Institute- We are planning a summer policy institute in which participants develop policy skills and plan for social justice action projects challenging segregation in their home communities.
  • Generation With Promise- We enable middle school students and teachers to formulate strategies for healthier schools and healthier communities.
  • Youth Policy Leaders Program-We enable youth leaders to develop policy projects which challenge segregation.
  • Youth Participation in Public Policy-We organized the first national conference for youth participation in the formation, implementation, and evaluation of public policy, including community-based organizations, civic agencies, private foundations, universities, and the media.
  • Youth Participation in Evaluation Research-We brought together youth and adults for a Wingspread Conference and created a national declaration on youth learning for social action.
  • San Francisco Youth Commission- We work with a leading youth commission in one of the nation’s most culturally diverse cities.

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