Encourage Organizational Change is a young person’s experience in
an organization that values their opinions and encourages them to
engage in decision making.

Creating opportunities to influence organizations involves strategies such as, but not limited to, youth councils, youth advisory boards, and youth-led research and evaluation teams.


Young people who have opportunities to influence the world around them demonstrate higher career aspirations, increased self-esteem, strong problem solving skills, improved high school completion rates, and increased civic participation (Checkoway, 2011; Bloomberg, et al., 2003; O’Brien & Kohlmeier, 2003). When young people engage in organizational change they can strengthen the organization and its policies and programs (Benson et al., 2006; Mitra 2009; Sherrod et al., 2010; Youniss and Levine 2009; Zeldin 2004). In addition, under certain conditions, it can promote adult and staff development. For these reasons, engaging young people in organizational decision making has become increasing important in philanthropy (Coalition of Community Foundations for Youth 2002), local governance (National League of Cities 2010), nonprofit management (Kunreuther et al., 2009), social justice campaigns (Linds et al., 2010), and school reform efforts (Framework for Success for All Students 2006).


Hello Insight has found that encouraging young people to create organizational
change is a focused experience that increases their likelihood to take action. Taking
Action encapsulates Advocating for Change, Confidence to Mobilize, and Sociopolitical Participation, three interdependent capacities that are related to young people’s disposition to take action. Young people who are inclined to take action in their communities have self-confidence, understand their social and political environment, and are more apt to become civically engaged.

Download the Reflection Guide


Youth-Adult Partnership Resource Kit: Tools and Inspiration for Organizations and Communities

The Ford Family Foundation
This Youth-Adult Partnership Resource Kit is intended for community leaders, youth development professionals, and K-12 educators and administrators. It targets any ally to youth who is interested in organizational improvement and new avenues and strategies for authentic youth engagement.

Guiding Questions:

  • Is our organization ready to engage in authentic youth-adult partnerships?
  • What structures and practices will our organization need to put in place to promote youth-adult partnerships?
  • What are the barriers to youth-adult partnership and how can we address these?

Youth Councils: An Effective Way to Promote Youth Participation

This article highlights a wide range of youth councils, their roles and impacts. It provides valuable case studies and highlights the various elements of effective youth councils.

Guiding Questions:

  • What type of youth council does my organization want to create? Why?
  • What is the purpose and role of the council?
  • How will we ensure fair and equal representation or access for all?

Youth Board Members: Can minors serve on nonprofit boards?

Nonprofit Law Blog
This article provides useful resources that help you understand the age requirements for youth on boards. In addition, it outlines the rights and obligations of young board members and offers a helpful assessment and reflection process to ascertain whether your board is ready for youth members.

Guiding Questions:

  • Have we considered all of the legal issues to engage young people on our board?
  • Is our board ready for youth engagement?
  • Have we explored alternative strategies for youth voice and engagement in decision making?

Realizing the Power of Youth and Young Adult Voice Through Youth Leadership Boards

Annie E. Casey Foundation This issue brief explores the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative’s experience in developing and implementing youth leadership boards. It includes the perspectives of young people in foster care and the adults engaged with them. It also provides tips and strategies for developing and implementing a youth leadership board.

Guiding Questions:

  • Is a youth leadership board right for our organization?
  • How can we implement a youth leadership board?
  • What are the barriers to creating a youth leadership board?
  • What are the benefits to creating a youth leadership board?