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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.

Participatory Research and Evaluation

We strengthen youth participation in program evaluation, community assessment, and policy analysis. Young people define their own issues, gather information, analyze findings, and share their learning and recommendations.

  • Participatory Evaluation Workshops- We prepare young people for evaluation research through community-based training workshops, in Michigan, Mississippi, Massachusetts, and other areas.
  • Youth Media Groups- We train groups to evaluate their uses of media for social change, including Reel Grrls (Seattle), Video Machete (Chicago), Global Kids (New York), Bay Area Video Coalition (San Francisco), and Youth Radio (Oakland).
  • Michigan Youth Councils- We conduct regional training workshops for community foundation youth councils.
  • Youth Policy Research for Desegregation and Diversity- We collaborate with colleagues in Chicago, St. Louis, and Detroit to assess school disparities and challenge segregation.

Research Program

Our affiliation with the University of Michigan enables us to sustain a long-term research program. We employ qualitative and quantitative research methods and publish our findings in reports, books, and articles in journals such as: the American Journal of Evaluation; Community Youth Development Journal; Children, Youth and Environments; International Community Development Journal; Journal of Community Practice; Children and Youth Services Review; Social Work; and Journal of Planning Education and Research.

We facilitate national conferences to establish youth participation as a field of practice and subject of study, such as the Wingspread Conference on Youth Participation in Public Policy.

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