Youth-Led Research Resources

YWAT conducted the following Youth-Led Participatory Action Research Projects over the 8 years of our existence:

1. The prevalence and impact of street harassment on young women’s lives – 2003-2004
2. The prevalence and impact of teen dating violence — 2004-2005
3. The impact and effects of stress on young women’s lives — 2006-2007
4. How Young Men Think About Violence against Girls and Young Women — 2006-2008
5. The prevalence and impact of sexual violence on public transit — 2008-2009
6. Suspension Stories: The prevalence and impact of harsh school disciplinary policies on youth — 2010-2011

Youth-Led Participatory Action Research

YWAT was launched based on a participatory action research (PAR) project about street harassment.  PAR is a process for developing specific knowledge about issues of concern and can also serve as a platform for community organizing.  YWAT has found PAR also to be a critical component in developing the leadership of our core members.  We will share some of the most useful tools that we have found to help us learn about PAR and even more importantly to help us train new members in the practice.

Useful Reports and Research

For information about the landscape of youth organizing in the Midwest – check out a great study completed in 2005 about youth-led social change by Melissa Spatz.  The report is called “At a Crossroads: Youth Organizing in the Midwest” and can be downloaded at

Center for Women Policy Studies

The center conducted an action research project, the Teen Women’s Leadership Development Initiative (TWLDI), designed to nurture teen women’s leadership through their active participation in conducting survey research with their peers on their attitudes about and experiences with violence against women and girls, hate crimes, bias, prejudice, and tolerance.  This culminated in the production of a report called “Does It Have to Be Like This? Teen Women Ask Their Peers about Violence, Hate, and Discrimination,” available in PDF format on their website.

Creating Community Change: Challenges and Tensions in Community Youth Research” by Maria A. Fernandez. JGC Issue Brief, October 2002.

This is a good description of the challenges faced by one youth-led research project sponsored by the Gardner Center.  This is available at the Gardner Center website in PDF format.  It can also be downloaded from the Free Child Project website.

Manual, Books, and Other Tools

Youth-Led Research

Debold, E., Fullwood, P.C., and Davis, D.A. (2000).  The New Girls’ Movement: New Assessment Tools for Youth Programs (Ms. Foundation for Women).  This resource provides a curriculum for involving girls as partners in participatory evaluation research.  We used this resource to help train the original YWAT members in how to conduct community research.  It was a great help.  It can now be downloaded from GBF’s website:

The Free Child Project has a terrific listing of useful resources that address the importance of involving youth in research.

McIntyre, Alice (2001).  Inner-City Kids: Adolescents Confront Life and Violence in an Urban Community.  New York University Press. [$21.00]This is a good illustration of the promise and pitfalls of engaging youth in community research.

Participatory Action Research Curriculum for Empowering Girls ($85.00) – This is published by the Institute for Community Research which uses the tools of research to build community capacity and foster collaboration community-based partnerships.  This is tailored for girls ages 11-15 but can be adapted for high schools students.  They also have a curriculum that can be used for mixed gender groups.

Something is Wrong: Exploring the Roots of Youth Violence (2010) — A couple of organizations (Mikva Challenge and All-Stars) offer specific curricula that focuses on supporting youth to conduct participatory action research. Click here to access the guide.

Youth REP – Step by Step: An Introduction to Youth-led Evaluation and Research. (2002). Available through Youth in Focus. – 510-251-9800 ($10.00).

This guide provides a detailed introduction to youth-led research and evaluation.  Readers will find descriptions and profiles of youth-led projects; an overview of youth-led research and evaluation project stages (The Stepping Stones); and critical insights from project facilitators, youth evaluators, and community members.  It does not present a prescribed set of activities and lesson plans.  It is very readable.

Y.E.L.L.: A Handbook for Supporting Community Youth Researchers.

Youth Engaged in Leadership and Learning (Y.E.L.L.) is a participant-led research program intended to make young people’s voices heard.  This curriculum was designed by the Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities (Stanford University).  You can download their excellent guide HERE.

A Guide to Facilitating Action Research for Youth by Matthew Goldwasser (May 2004).

This is a useful resource if you are new to the idea of action research and how to work with youth to implement a project.  This can be downloaded for FREE.

The Girls’ Best Friend Foundation (which closed in 2007) provides incredibly useful information about how to encourage social activism in young girls.  The site also includes valuable downloadable worksheets created by Catlin Fullwood that can be used in youth-led participatory evaluation research project.

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