WE the YOUTH, You the PEOPLE!

The Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) established the “WE the YOUTH, You the PEOPLE!” youth town hall series with the goal of supporting young people in the development of a youth agenda to inform policy, practice, and programs that engage and/or created to support young people. Moreover, to provide a youth agenda on relevant topics and present to the upcoming Mayoral candidates and other officials seeking office that determine the funding and priorities of youth programming.

DYCD has partnered with two groups of dynamic young people to serve as advisors. The town hall series is not only youth led but also youth driven. My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper (MBSK) and the Intergenerational Change Initiative’s Critical Participatory Action Researchers (CPAR) are informing the series from theme development to implementation.

My Brother's and Sister's Keeper
The My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper Youth Council (MBSKYC) formerly known as Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council (MYLC) program engages 20 youth to work with different networks of borough-based youth groups, youth advisory boards, and other youth councils throughout the City. Young adults will have the opportunity to lead the process to identify social justice issue(s) important to the local community and of potential relevance to the entire City of New York. Members of the council will produce actionable projects focused on bridging the gap between youth voice and social reform.
The specific goals of the MBSKYC are to:

  1. Share with peers and adults the roles youth can play as community change agents
  2. Create authentic opportunities for young people to shape responses to community issues
  3. Inspire young people to aspire towards leadership roles
  4. Cultivate an ethic of service and support community service projects throughout New York City

Critical Participatory Action Research (CPAR)
Critical participatory action research (CPAR) is an approach to generating knowledge where those most impacted by the policies, practices or issue being studied become an integral part of a research team. CPAR democratizes who is considered “expert” and who can be part of generating solutions.

In the summer of 2020, DYCD partnered with the Intergenerational Change Initiative (ICI) at the CUNY School of Professional Studies Youth Studies Program to launch a CPAR project. DYCD wanted young people’s expertise about their lived experience as well as their needs, hopes, and desires to be at the center of any forthcoming community-youth development strategy. The resulting ICI/DYCD Summer Institute engaged a group of young people ages 15-22, from all walks of life, to conduct research that will inform the development of a New York City youth agenda. After being trained in a variety of research methods, young people in the collective designed a study that incorporated a survey, focus groups and mapping. The group has collected data and is beginning to analyze their findings in order to surface what feels important to young people in NYC at this critical juncture. This group of youth researchers will continue to collaborate with DYCD to provide opportunities for young people to inform the city about their current realities, while also co-creating a new way forward.