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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 Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity in Metropolitan Detroit

We bring together young people of African, Asian, European, Middle Eastern, and Latin American descent for intergroup dialogues, metropolitan tours, campus retreats, and community projects which challenge discrimination in the nation's most segregated metropolitan area.

In collaboration with the Program for Intergroup Relations (IGR), young people have participated in more than 1000 intergroup dialogues through which they take action against segregation, often for the first time.

  • Youth Policy Leaders- Youth leaders strengthen diversity and challenge discrimination. They identify policy issues, conduct community forums, and organize action projects. They meet public officials and make presentations in Lansing and Washington, DC.
  • Adult Allies- We prepare adults – including parents and teachers – to support young people who are working for racial justice.
  • "My Dreams are Not a Secret"- In collaboration with What Kids Can Do, we published a book whose young authors write about growing up in segregation and reaching out to others who are different from themselves.
  • "Speak for Yourself"- We collaborate with Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit in a performance based on stories from the youth dialogues program. Young actors perform in school assemblies and community centers across Michigan, followed by interactive talk backs.
  • "Down Woodward"- We collaborate with PBS in a 9-episode television series based on our youth dialogues program.

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