Share Power is a young person’s experience with an adult who ensures that their voices and opinions matter.

Sharing power involves supporting young people to feel connected, engaged, and included as true contributing members of their programs, teams, groups, communities, and society.


WHY IS SHARING POWER IMPORTANT?

Sharing Power has been shown to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion both in the classroom and society (Zeldin, S, et al., 2000; Sabo-Flores, 2013; Ginwright, S. & James, T., 2002). It also enhances problem solving skills, builds effective communication skills, increases critical consciousness, and ignites a sense of contribution and civic engagement (Sabo Flores, K., 2013; Ginwright, S. & James T., 2002; Zeldin, Z. et al., 2000).

Sharing Power is based upon global recognition that young people have a right to be heard and participate in all decisions that affect them (United Nations 2009). Sharing Power can result in young people clarifying or improving a program or organization’s mission. In order to ensure they benefit young people from diverse backgrounds, programs often become more responsive to young people, and they often place greater value on inclusion and representation (Zelding S., et al., 2000).

DISCOVERIES FROM HELLO INSIGHT

Young people are dynamic and full of promise, with many different pathways to success. Every year Hello Insight mines our growing dataset of more than 125,000 young people, participating in more than 1,500 programs nation-wide, so that we can continue to learn what works for each and every young person.

Sharing power is particularly important for girls and Latinx young, people predicting significant SEL growth. Sharing power works well when combined with efforts to engage authentically, expand young people’s interests, and help them manage personal and group goals.

Download the Reflection Guide

RESOURCES

Setting Group Agreements with Youth

Heart-Mind Online
This resource provides information about how to establish group agreements that create safe and caring spaces that will enhance any group activity. Group agreements are co-created guidelines that help participants feel comfortable with each other in an atmosphere of safety, respect and trust. Everyone shares the responsibility for the experience and once developed, a group can regularly re-visit the agreements to see if they are still working and make changes if issues come up.

Guiding Questions:

  • What is the difference between group agreements and rules?
  • How do I currently establish group agreements?
  • How can I encourage self-monitoring of group agreements?

Youth + Social Change

Free Child Institute
This website provides useful resources on promoting youth social change projects with traditionally disconnected young people. There are links to videos, guidebooks and other tools and resources to share power.

Guiding Questions:

  • How do I currently work with young people to define and take action on issues that matter to them?
  • What more can I do to share power with young people?
  • Can I work with young people to create a social change project?

Promoting the Participation, Learning and Action of Young People

UNICEF
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to facilitate Participatory Action Research with your young people. We like this guide because it provides mini lesson plans that are easy to use.

Guiding Questions:

  • Could I start a participatory action research with my young people?
  • What resources or capacities would be required to implement youth-led participatory action research?

Being Y-AP Savvy: A Primer on Creating & Sustaining Youth-Adult Partnerships

Center for Nonprofits and 4-H Youth Development
Youth-adult partnership (Y-AP) is a framework to use with young people and adults in any role, including staff, parents, and volunteers. It challenges young people and adults to work on collective actions that can benefit your organization or larger community. We like the Y-AP manual because it helps organizations define the core ingredients for Y-AP and build a lasting culture of partnerships.

Guiding Questions:

  • How can we adopt this framework for our program or organization?
  • What resources and skills are required for our staff to implement this framework?

What is Youth Engagement, Really?

ACT for Youth Center of Excellence
Truly engaging young people gives you the benefit of their expertise and partnership. This article provides guidance about involving young people in decision making, conducting youth participatory evaluation, and encouraging youth voice through workshops. We like this article because it demonstrates the conditions necessary to share power with young people, encouraging them to speak up and make choices within the program.

Guiding Questions:

  • Do we have all the conditions necessary to promote youth voice and ideas?
  • Do we have the conditions necessary to support youth-led decision making?
  • Do I have the mindset to engage young people as true partners?

Transforming Positive Youth Development: A Case for Youth Organizing

Funders Collaborative for Youth Organizing
This study highlights the ways in which youth organizing groups use and qualitatively transform positive youth development practices. In youth organizing groups, the adults are seen as allies rather than teachers, and the issue of power dynamics and adultism are addressed directly. Adult allies encourage young people to share their unique stories, helping them understand the social, political and historical natures of their collective experiences. All activities, actions and campaigns are centered on these stories and young people work to effect change on the issues that have been identified.

Guiding Questions:

  • How can I use the PYD approaches used in youth organizing in my program?
  • How can I center the voices and experiences of the young people?

Youth Leading Community Change: An Evaluation Toolkit

4-H
We like this toolkit because it provides a step-by-step curriculum that supports youth-led evaluation. It provides helpful activities to build the evaluation skills and abilities of both adults and young people.

Guiding Questions:

  • What are the benefits and challenges of engaging young people in evaluating our programs and services?
  • Would the adults be willing to hear the voices of young people and act on their recommendations?

Students – The Expert Voice We Can’t afford to Ignore

Medium
This article describes Copilot, a tool to get confidential input from young people, and makes the case that feedback from young people is essential for program development.

Guiding Questions:

  • How will your program and professional development change once you learn how you are perceived?
  • How can you institutionalize this feedback loop?

Inclusion Toolkit

True Colors United
This focus on inclusion, particularly for the LBGTQ community, includes a strong explanation of the need for having youth voices at the table.

Guiding Questions:

  • Which local organizations can support inclusion efforts?
  • What obstacles are facing your young people from being included in society?

Agency

Transforming Eduation
Agency is an individual's ability to take initiative and it is a skill that can be developed by sharing power and encouraging young people to assess their own progress. Providing feedback that is explicitly targeted to encourage development and asking young people to assess their own engagement in the discussions are additional ways to encourage the growth of agency. This flyer also provides age-specific definitions of agency.

Guiding Questions:

  • Can you increase the opportunities for young people to take initiative?
  • Can you share more power with the young people in your program, and leave more decisions to them?