Engage, Involve, Inspire, Motivate, and Activate Youth!

Do you want to engage, involve, inspire, motivate, or activate young people? Then order my book, The Freechild Project Youth-Driven Programming Guide!

Packed with useful activities, deep insights, practical tips, and other information and resources your need to move youth voice, youth engagement, youth leadership, and youth empowerment to the FRONT of your work with young people!

The book is meant for people who work with middle school and high school youth. If you work with traditional youth leaders, you’ll learn how to move that work forward. If you work with nontraditional youth leaders, you can learn how to engage them in positive, powerful activities that can change your program or organization.

Details

  • The Freechild Project Youth-Driven Programming Guide
  • By Adam Fletcher
  • Price: $11.99
  • Order from Amazon.com or request the book from your local bookseller.

Reader Reviews

“The Youth-Driven Programming Guide is a must read for youth workers in all settings. Adam does a tremendous job of getting straight to the point with a clear message in a concise format that even the busiest of youth workers will be able to make time to read. We operate a Parks & Recreation related youth program that provides multiple youth after school program sites, late night events, a series of dances, and a Youth Commission. This guide is the newest required reading for all volunteers and staff within our program. 

—Paul Simmons, Parks and Recreation Director, Cheney, Washington

“I work with groups of young people in Preston, Lancashire, England to have a real voice in decision making in our Impact Youth Groups, co-working with young people training to be Youth Workers and my work in schools and justice projects. The book is an excellent informal education tool in planning your work young people, supporting the work you, developed with young people in a simple understanding education tool, creates fun in learning, while young people can be given a real voice with support, in their social education learning and decision making experiences.”

—Terry Mattinson, youth worker, Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Expanding Children’s Rights in the US

Bound up in this ongoing conversation about youth engagement is the question of who has the right to be heard. In the United States, there are two distinct conversations that happen regarding the rights of children and youth; one is protective (Children’s Defense Fund) and the other is liberatory (National Youth Rights Association).

Children’s Ombudsman Offices are independent, impartial public officials with authority and responsibility to receive, investigate or informally address complaints about government actions, and, when appropriate, make findings and recommendations, and publish reports. Their roles are almost wholly interpreted to be protective, with few reports indicating that they’ve done anything related to liberating young people.

Twenty-two states in the US have official children’s ombudsman offices that deal with children’s rights issues. Have you ever heard of these offices in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, California, Texas, Utah, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, or Virginia?

You can learn about these offices, including what they specifically do and how they operate, from this website.

I would like to see these offices, along with state-level Children’s Cabinets and local and state Youth Councils, assume leadership towards promoting youth voice, youth engagement, youth leadership, and youth empowerment across the country, and that includes children, too.

This would create relevant, meaningful opportunities for young people of all ages to engage in democracy. It would also catalyze vibrant conversations in many places where discussions about children’s rights, youth rights, and civic engagement are dead.

What is ahead? Expanding children’s rights in the United States may be the next route to take.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Meet Them Where They’re At

Recently, I was called to a meeting where it was requested that we BYOD, Bring Your Own Device. It seemed ridiculous to me at first, as I thought that people who were inclined to bring their own devices already would. But when I got there, we were led through activities that could only be done online with a device. People without a device—a phone, tablet, or laptop—were left out or had to mooch off their neighbor.
There is absolutely no way I’m advocating for this in youth programs, even though I’ve seen it in some. Its ignorant, privileged, and genuinely excessive to assume that young people, no matter what social strata they’re from, have the capability to access technology in the ways adults want them to, whenever they want them to.
However, one of the most effective ways to engage young people is to meet them where they are right now, rather than insist they come to where we want them to be. This happens in one of two primary ways:
  •  Literally—Rather than have programming at your facility, have programming where young people in your community already spend their time. If they spend a lot of their afterschool time at a neighborhood park, hold programs there. If they spend time at other nonprofit programs, hold programs there. Same thing with shopping malls, gyms, even homes. 
  • Figuratively—In activities, attitudes, and culture, rather than insisting young people act like you, behave like you, think like you, and do think you do as an adult, you can meet them where they’re at by using the technology they use, interacting with the culture they absorb, and utilizing the values and attitudes they hold. 
Both of these require adults to step out on a limb. They mean that we have to step outside the relative safety of our defined programming spaces, our intentional curriculum, our social class or culturally-accepted practices, or our adult-biased attitudes. In order to do any of that, we have to acknowledge and accept that our way may not be the only way.
More importantly though, this approach shows us that we can work together with young people. That lays a foundation for establishing real partnerships with children and youth, and opens the door to creating substantive, sustainable opportunities for young people to become meaningfully involved throughout the operations of the programs that target them every day.
Learn more about me at my website, follow me on twitter, like me on facebook, and check me out on pintrest!
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

33 Steps to Youth Voice

Creativity, government, schools, empowerment, community development… As the banner of youth voice is unfurled around the world, we see more young people standing up in unprecedented numbers than ever before. They’re demanding what is rightfully theirs: High-quality living, hopeful lives, and democratic realities. We’re just see this movement emerge like never before, and must keep pushing for it to grow.

Youth voice is any expression of any young person, anywhere, about anything. For a long time, people got that wrong by defining it only as things adults wanted to hear from young people. Youth were wrangled into adult-driven, adult-centered communities and were only asked about things that adults are concerned with. We heard youth opinions about topics like philanthropy, youth service, volunteering, and youth services in the name of youth voice for a long time.

However, a lot of my writing, research, and training has focused on listening to youth voice that didn’t fit that description. I’ve found the most vibrant action is happening outside that old spectrum. So I redefined youth voice, expanded it, and showed how we’re seeing the breadth and depth of youth voice that is happening specifically from youth perspectives, in a wide-open, all views welcome way.

All this voice shows how youth need new roles throughout our communities. Instead of being passive recipients of adult-driven community programs, all young people need to be active partners in our homes, nonprofits, faith places, parks, government agencies, and all places throughout our communities. This can happen in a lot of ways, and here are a few!

33 Steps to Youth Voice

  1. BE—Go to where youth are, and stop insisting they come to where you’re at.
  2. TEACH—Teach youth about your community in the broadest ways, including culture, geography, economics, history, and more.
  3. BUILD—Help youth understand different ways of seeing community issues.
  4. TRAIN—Train adult providers about the difference between Youth as Recipients and Youth as Partners, and why that’s an important distinction.
  5. EDUCATE—Increase the understanding youth have of democracy and government, including what it is, how it operates, who is in it, where it fails and when it succeeds.
  6. LISTEN—Develop opportunities for youth to share their unfettered concerns about their communities with adults.
  7. POSITION—Create formal positions for youth to occupy throughout your community.
  8. CREATE—Create programs with youth as partners in identifying, planning, facilitating, evaluating, and critiquing throughout.
  9. PARTNER—Co-design community engagement plans with every youth in your program.
  10. MENTOR—Assign all youth a youth mentor to introduce them to the culture and traditions of your community; mutual mentoring matters.
  11. PLAN—Help youth plan, advocate, and enact yearlong program calendars for organizations that affect them and others.
  12. DESIGN—Engage youth in designing and redesigning programs that serve them and their communities.
  13. STEP ASIDE—Encourage nontraditional youth leaders to co-facilitate regular programs with adults.
  14. SPEND—Invest fully in youth programming and allow youth to become active partners in organizational budgeting.
  15. HIRE—Give youth positions to become regular, paid youth program assistants and leaders.
  16. FACILITATE—Partner together youth to form facilitation teams that lead programs.
  17. SEE—Acknowledge youth teaching younger youth in lower age groups with program credit and other acknowledgment.
  18. SUBSTANTIATE—Co-create professional development with youth for adult staff about issues that matter to them.
  19. EVALUATE—Assign youth to create meaningful program evaluations of themselves.
  20. SYSTEMITIZE—Partner with youth to create evaluations of programs, curriculum, facilitation styles, organizations, and communities.
  21. EMPOWER—Train youth how to evaluate adult facilitator performance.
  22. LEAD—Create opportunities for youth to lead community events.
  23. GUIDE—Create positions for youth to participate in nonprofit boards, neighborhood communities, and other systemic activities.
  24. AUTHORIZE—Give youth on nonprofit boards full-voting positions and equal numbers of positions with adults.
  25. EQUATE—Create enough positions for youth to be equally represented in every neighborhood committee and meeting.
  26. MEET—Facilitate all neighborhood activities in ways that are engaging for all participants, including youth.
  27. RULE—Help youth create and enforce activity policies throughout the community.
  28. DECIDE—Partner with youth in nonprofit personnel decisions.
  29. ORGANIZE—Work with youth to organize public campaigns for neighborhood improvement.
  30. INTEGRATE—Create opportunities for youth to join all existing neighborhood committees as equal members.
  31. DETERMINE—Present youth data and information so they understand why and how neighborhoods can and should change.
  32. EQUIP—Position youth to educate adults throughout your community, including parents, leaders, policymakers and others, about challenges that matter to them.
  33. INFUSE—Encourage youth with formal and informal opportunities to present their concerns.

The very best thing about all this? Its all backed up by research and practice from across the United States and around the world! For more than a decade I’ve been finding examples, collecting tools, and sharing best practices and findings from researchers, teachers, and students. I share it all free on this blog and in The Freechild Project Youth Voice Toolbox, free.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

10 Steps to Planning Programs With Youth

Planning youth programs for children and youth is tricky. Stuck without enough time to plan or strict guidelines for curriculum delivery, youth program workers can feel powerless over what they do with the young people they serve. In my own experience working in the field for more than a decade, I had this experience continually.

In the last decade, I’ve worked with more than 200 nonprofits across the US to help them re-envision program planning for out-of-school time programs. Organizations are wrestling because of their best intentions. My own work through The Freechild Project, along with similar programs across the country, have convinced a generation of practitioners and planners that youth programs can do more than simply deliver content to young people. Instead, they can create program content with young people, and in some instances actually position young people to generate content with their peers. This notion reflects the wisdom, “Nothing about me without me is for me.”

Aside from this ethical consideration, there is a practical basis to promoting meaningful youth involvement in youth program planning. A variety of recent research is increasingly demonstrating that there may be no parallel for ensuring program effectiveness. The most intuitive outcome is true: This approach powerfully impacts young people who participate in program planning along with youth who participate in programs planned by youth. Less obvious are the effects that youth-involved planning has on adults in the program, in the sponsoring organization, and in the surrounding community. If their activities include engaging peers in service to the broader community, young people involved in planning youth programs can actually affect the broad community beyond their programs in a variety of ways over the short and long term, including promoting lifelong civic engagement for young people, including developing strong and sustained connections to the educational, economic, and cultural values of their neighborhoods and cities. Youth programs can dream no higher goals. (See here, here, and here for some studies.)


Studying my own work, along with a vast array of literature focusing on this approach, I’ve devised some key points for engaging children and youth in program planning.

10 Steps to Planning Programs With Youth

  1. Think Sustainable—Create ways to ensure participants that being involved is going to keep happening after this planning period. From the beginning, infuse youth engagement in facilitation, evaluation, research, decision-making, and advocacy right into the culture of your program. If you must involve children and youth in a one-shot activity, let them know of opportunities for them to be involved in their lives outside your program.
  2. Clear Purpose—Establish a clear purpose for youth involvement in program planning. Let participants, organization leaders, parents, community members, and local schools know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Clarity of purpose is often missing from young people’s lives, as school is done to them, family is done to them, and stores are done to them. Your program can be done with them, and they should know why.
  3. Engage The Non-Traditionally Engaged—Create space and help children and youth who haven’t been especially engaged in your program to become involved in program planning. Both traditionally involved young people and non-traditionally involved young people can contribute to all of the various aspects of program planning. If you don’t know how to do this, get trained; if you need a reason, read this.
  4. Real Connections—When young people see themselves in your program, real connections are happening. When real connections happen, children and youth become engaged. While they may have obvious expertise or interests in a specific topic, its important for afterschool youth workers to help young people discover what they know. 
  5. Equity, Not Equality—Develop equitable roles between young people and adults. This means that programs don’t pretend all things between children, youth, and adults are 50/50 split equally, because in our adult-centered society that is simply never true. Equity allows young people and adults to enter into responsible relationships that acknowledge what each other knows and doesn’t know, and to work from that place instead of assuming everyone has equal ability and capacity. We’re all different; let’s not pretend otherwise.
  6. Grow Their Capacity—Grow the existing capacity of children and youth to become involved in planning. Both young people and adults can learn from training about work styles, assumptions, skills, and more. 
  7. Make A Clear Plan—Having a specific pathway for young people to see how their contributions affect program planning is vital. Show how their participation will affect the program. Are they contributing to an existing program? Opening a brand-new course of action and learning? Working with the same adults in new ways, or partnering with new adults? Its important to remember that creating an afterschool program plan with young people is not the culmination of work, but the starting point of an organization’s efforts to create more effective programs. A clear plan should include: 1) Next steps; 2) Roles and responsibilities; 3) program structure outline; 4) program participant evaluation. Setting priorities, using timelines with target implementation dates, and developing clear benchmarks for measuring success in each area can also enhance the youth program plan’s effectiveness.
  8. Get Systemic—Encourage active youth/adult partnerships beyond planning. Young people can be engaged in researching their community, school, nonprofit program, or anything through PAR. They can facilitate, teach, and mentor peers, younger people, and adult. They can evaluate themselves, their organizations and communities, workplaces and businesses, and other places. They can participate in organizational, family, community, or other decision-making. They can advocate for what they care about. Ultimately, they can be engaged throughout the systems that prevail in every part of their lives.
  9. Connect The Dots—Establish community/school connections if possible. Collaborations that reinforce young people’s learning and support in-school learning only benefit youth programs. The partnership established in this process can deepen efforts through the future, and mutually support young people in and out of school time.
  10. Eyes Wide Open—Open the doors to critical examination. Use critical lenses to examine your assumptions and effects in your program planning. Identifying strengths and weaknesses allow programs and organizations to improve the overall effectiveness of youth engagement, especially through your particular effort. Make space by giving young people permission and skills they need to be partners in mutual accountability with adults. In your program planning activities with youth, set clear benchmarks and agree on celebrations when they’re met and consequences that young people can see for when those benchmarks are not met.

My experience engaging young people in program planning can benefit you. What would you add to the list from your experience?

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

5 Steps to Integrate Youth

Nike, Levi’s, and a lot of other brands that sell things to youth have realized that the secret to marketing to youth is personalization: Let them help design it, and young people will spend a lot for it. At the same time, many websites allow young users to develop sophisticated personal profiles, letting them connect their friends, identify with organizations and causes they want to be affiliated with, and personalize the look and operation of the website to suit their personal tastes. According to a recent expose by CBS News, “In 1983, companies spent $100 million marketing to kids. Today, they’re spending nearly $17 billion annually. That’s more than double what it was in 1992.”

In the face of this, young people routinely experience the rest of society being done to them and for them, instead of with them or by themselves.


I believe children and youth are not the consumers of their lives. However, it is clear to me that marketers (again) have one up on all adults who work with young people. Rather than following their direct lead, I think there are lessons we can learn from them. Here are 5 steps to integrate youth.


5 Steps to Integrate Youth

1) Educate yourself first. Recognize that all young people are segregated everywhere, all the time. I wrote a series of articles for The Freechild Project Youth Voice Toolkit such as “Guidelines for Youth Voice” and “Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment for Youth Voice” that can teach you before you work to build youth integration in your community.

2) See all young people. Read a piece about youth voice and young children and the role of youth engagement for infants and children I wrote on the CommonAction blog. In the history of children in the US, a lot of it focuses on the suffering of young children. But a few historians actually acknowledge that even young children have always been important to the well-being of the United States. That’s even more true today than ever before.

3) Invest in your own development. You don’t have to spend money on advertisements or developing apps. Instead, invest in time by attending trainings, conducting social media activities, and taking deliberate actions to integrate young people throughout your community. Find out what CommonAction Consulting can do with your organization or community.

4) Strengthen youth involvement. If you want young people to be integrated, you have to involve them throughout every part of your community. That includes planning, research, facilitation, training, evaluation, decision-making, and advocacy. Learn how to do all this and more from the SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum.

5) Everywhere, all the time. When businesses want to sell things to young people, they ingratiate themselves throughout the lives of children and youth, in their clothing, video games, and other places. We must take according steps without overspending on technology or t-shirts by taking steps to integrate young people throughout their communities. Learn about Hampton, Virginia for a great example of what this looks like.

There are many other steps to take, but integrating youth is an essential responsibility we should all take on. These are some ways to do that.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Elements of Successful Community Engagement

The nature of community programs continues to evolve.

More than ever, nonprofits, government agencies, and other programs are being challenged to transform their goals, activities, assessments, and resources in order to motivate, educate, and engage people beyond simple participation. In a time when many communities are stuck in a malaise, community programs require a realignment to grow beyond what they’ve done.

Appearances Matter

People appear to have more options with what to do with their time, making it ironic they need community programs more than ever. However, the technology, recreation, sports, faith-based activities, and opportunities to earn income that were present just a decade ago simply aren’t in many communities anymore.

Considering these dual realities of increased need and decreased opportunities, it is absolutely vital that nonprofit and government program providers get earnest about successfully engaging all people in their programming.

After more than a decade promoting community engagement across the US and Canada, I have found what works and doesn’t work for engaging all sorts of people. These lessons have to be deconstructed and reapplied in each community, because all communities are different.

I have read the research, worked directly with people, and struggled through many projects focused on community engagement. Following are some elements I consider essential to successfully engaging all kinds of people in community programs.

Elements of Successful Community Engagement

  • Focused – Instead of meandering through purposeless activities and focus-less personal activities, every program session is designed to be a concise, deliberative engagement of multiple intelligences, broad perspectives, and varying experiences. Successfully engaging people remains the central goal of all activities, and is the focus of every program.
  • Supportive – Youth and adults alike are committed to working together without fear of retribution or alienation. All people are partners with each other in community programs, and everyone works together for the common cause of engaging more people throughout the community.
  • Engaging – The experiences, knowledge, ideas, and opinions of people are validated and substantiated with meaningful learning experiences that infuse everyone with a new capacity to visualize, analyze, create, and engage themselves.
  • Critical – As co-learners within a community of learners, all people provide vital insight in the learning and teaching process for their peers and facilitators in community programs. These democratic interactions are actively encouraged and supported by all members.
  • Transparent – There should be no mysteries about what the purpose of the community program is, or what the outcomes of the activities will be. Community programs should offer numerous ways to make goals, outcomes, and activities fully understandable to people.

These are not simply the keys to successful community programs, nor to successfully engaging people. They are the elements of successfully engaging people throughout their communities all all sorts of programs. Its important to consider that these programs and their organizations are unique and different, and these elements are recognized for paying attention to that.

With these in mind, you can go forth and make a difference in the lives of the people you serve through your activities.

Want to talk about me doing a workshop for your organization or community? Get in touch!

 

Related Articles

Neoliberalism in Youth Programs

Democracy is a practical, hands-on approach to operating our society. Everyday, every young person can contribute to the health and well-being of themselves, their families, their neighborhoods, the nation, and the world. That’s the power of democracy today: More than ever before, it’s changing the world.

But there are forces trying to undo democracy. Right now, neoliberalism is tearing at youth programs across the nation today. It’s happening so deftly and insidiously that most youth workers and organization leaders have no idea what’s going on. 

Here are some characteristics of neoliberalism in youth-serving programs. They can be found in nonprofit or government settings at the neighborhood, city, county, state, or federal level.

Signs of Neoliberalism in Youth Programs

  • Bean counting. Counting youth-adult “encounters” as a measurement of change. This makes youth-adult interactions transactions similar to the way a salesman encounters a customer.
  • Pay to play. Charging youth to participate in historically free programs, including educational, recreational, cultural, and similar activities. Reducing youth work to a fiscal transaction incapacitates youth workers and denies the human right all young people have to access the resources of their communities.
  • Pre-packaged programs. Increasing “impact” in the lives of youth through by increasing the number of adult-facilitated, corporate-produced, curriculum-driven programs. This makes youth attendance in pre-packaged programs consumption, like a candy bar that is filled with empty carbs and nothing healthy.
  • Racist implications. When the same organization offers wildly different programs in different neighborhoods to meet different youth needs, they’re being responsive. When they track poor youth and youth or color into different programs than white youth and middle class youth, they’re being racist. 
  • Tracking to fast food. Teaching youth that the only jobs they’re eligible to get and the only impact they can make on their families and communities is through fast food and other service sector jobs denies their democratic roles and responsibilities. 
  • Signed in blood. Using contracts between youth and adults as a basis for interactions. This makes behavior and attendance a consumer interaction, and equates it to a consumer contract enforceable by law.
  • Poverty pimps. Selling donors on the horrors faced by youth in their neighborhoods without exposing the reality they’re faced to, including deep neighborhood roots, strong family backgrounds, and positive adult role models, is neoliberal to the core. It relies on feelings of noblese oblige for donatinons, and sells the worst side of youth today.
  • Youth as consumers. Referring to and understanding youth or parents as consumers of programs. This reduces nonprofit programs into supermarkets, and sells youth on the idea that “The customer is always right.”
  • Dramatizing reality. Writing grant applications or recruiting youth by over-emphasizing neighborhood challenges or youth inabilities is responsible and belittling. It sells programs on perceived need and hysteria rather than practical applications and meaningful community building. 
  • Zero tolerance. Enforcing zero-tolerance rules, particularly in low-income communities and with youth of color, who attend youth programs. This makes youth who comply eligible to participate, and pushes those who don’t further to the fringes, promoting a youth program-to-prison pipeline.
  • Being buddy buddy. Partnering nonprofits and for-profits in relationships that emphasize company values, corporate ideas, or consumerist perspectives.
  • Not all that counts… Using rigid evaluations and assessments of youth, youth performance, and program impacts in order to justify funding, employment, and youth activities. This makes all the impacts that aren’t measureable largely irrelevant, and promotes a “what you see is what you get” mentality, undermining the fabric of community in order to maximize the look of programs.
  • Sleeping with the enemy. Using corporate volunteers from local businesses to teach youth about financial responsibility and equity is an easy way to infuse youth with anti-democratic ideology and community apathy.
  • Over counting. Measuring every single component of a program. This makes all program activities artificially responsible for impacting youth, when there are many activities that indirectly affect them or don’t effect them at all that need to be done.

If these characteristics seem sensible or practical to you, you might consider what assumptions are driving your perspectives. That’s how neoliberalism works: Gradually taking over our conscience, we routinely and coincidentally perpetuate the very problems that caused our programs to need to exist in the first place. 


About Neoliberalism

In my work across the country over the last few years I’ve met and talked with many youth workers who are very concerned. They see their organizations faltering under pressure from foundations and donors, they’re watching young people become consumed by corporate identities and values, and they’re being laid off and replaced as workers caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle of hiring-and-firing.

At the same time, nonprofit organizations once committed to community development are now promoting consumerism and low-wage efforts to pipe up local economies. Executive directors and fund development managers have to pit corporate interests against the public well-being, often hiding sophisticated consumerist agendas behind simple-appearing neighborhood programs. They generally do this not from their own conscience, but as a response to threats from corporatized transnational foundations.

This is neoliberalism, which is a way the world is run. Neoliberalism places capitalism before social good, privatization before the public good, and business interests before the government. The ultimate idea of neoliberalism is to let capitalism run society, wholly eliminating the role of the government for the benefit of money-driven profiteers. 

In 2004, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said, “Privatization is a neoliberal and imperialist plan. Health can’t be privatized because it is a fundamental human right, nor can education, water, electricity and other public services. They can’t be surrendered to private capital that denies the people from their rights.”

Stop Neoliberalism

As my mentor and The Freechild Project advisor Henry Giroux has written, democratic education- which many youth-serving programs should be embodying- is under assault from neoliberalism in a huge way. But there are things we can do right now. 

  • If you’re a youth, stand up to neoliberalism by teaching your friends and educating youth workers. Share this article. Learn more about neoliberalism and work to stop it whenever, wherever you find it. Please.
  • If you’re a youth worker, stop neoliberalism by treating all youth as humans, right now. Stop enforcing dehumanizing zero tolerance rules, throw away company-mandated curriculum, and using your body to advertise for companies. 
  • If you’re a nonprofit board member, stand up to funders that are pimping your nonprofit for corporate gain. 
  • If you’re a neighborhood member or parent, check up on the nonprofits your youth is involved with or that serve youth and find out where their funding comes from, what it’s teaching youth, and how it’s being measured.

I offer websites, including The Freechild Project and SoundOut, social media, and outreach activities as weapons for this ongoing work, and I look forward to fighting with you along the way.


Long live democracy.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Youth-Driven Programming Dos and Don’ts

Interested in owning your own copy of these dos and don’ts? Find them in our new…

This is a short checklist for Youth-Driven Programming. I wrote it for nonprofits, schools, and other organizations that want to ensure their activities are meaningful for young people. You can own your own copy of the dos and don’ts by purchasing a copy of our new book from Amazon.com! ORDER YOUR COPY NOW.

If you want to learn more about Youth-Driven Programming, contact our office today by emailing info@commonaction.org or calling (360)489-9680.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!