Conditions for Youth-Driven Programs

Following is a simple assessment organizations can use to determine whether they really want to create youth-driven programming. I repurposed it from a tool the spectacular Michael Fielding of the University of Sussex originally created for schools, with his permission.

This tool can provide a straight-forward tool for practical conversations in nonprofits, community groups, and other places where adults are consider whether they really want youth to lead. There are four sections, including involvement, skills and attitudes, systems and spaces, organizational culture, and the future.

Conditions for Youth Driven Programs

Adapted by Adam Fletcher from M. Fielding with permission. 


  • Who is involved in Youth Driven Programming? 
  • Why are they involved? 
  • How are they involved? 
  • Which young people are allowed to be involved in driving programming? 
  • Who are they allowed to create programs for? 
  • What are they allowed to create programming focused on? 
  • What language, behaviour, and activities are encouraged and/or allowed? 
  • Who decides the answer to these questions? 
  • How are those decisions made? 
  • How, when, where, to whom and how often are these decisions communicated to young people and adults? 

Skills and Attitudes

  • Are the skills of Youth Driven Programming encouraged and supported through training or other appropriate means? 
  • Are these skills understood, developed and practiced within the context of other democratic values and dispositions? 
  • Are these skills themselves changed or informed by those values and dispositions? 
  • How do the young people and adults involved regard each other? 
  • To what degree are the principle of equal value and the dispositions of care felt reciprocally and demonstrated through the reality of daily encounter? 

Systems and Spaces

  • How often does dialogue and engagement between youth and adults currently happen in the organization and its programs? Who decides? 
  • How do the systems highlighting the value and necessity of Youth Driven Programming mesh with or relate to other activities, especially those involving adults? 
  • What action is taken for Youth Driven Programming? 
  • Who feels responsible for Youth Driven Programming? 
  • What happens if aspirations and good intentions are not realised? 
  • Where are the spaces (physical and metaphorical) in which Youth Driven Programming might take place? Who controls those spaces? 
  • What values shape their being and their use? 
Organizational Culture 
  • Do the cultural norms and values of the organization proclaim the importance of Youth Driven Programming within the context of communities as a shared responsibility and shared achievement? 
  • Do the practices, traditions and routine daily encounters demonstrate values supportive of Youth Driven Programming? 

The Future

  • Do we need new structures for Youth Driven Programming? 
  • Do we need new ways of relating to each other as youth and/or adults? 

CommonAction staff is available to train on Youth-Driven Programming and much more. To talk about the possibilities contact Adam Fletcher by emailing or calling (360) 489-9680.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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