Transforming Worlds

at AMC: Youthprise &


This quote is from Allied Media Conference’s 2013 opening ceremony. Self-described as a “collaborative laboratory of media-based organizing strategies for transforming our world,” AMC is an annual convening of youth, media makers, artists and organizers in Detroit. Over the course of a few days, 2,000 people come to Wayne State University to strategize about how to make the world a better place, to learn together and to play together. AMC is place-based in nature, and many of the sessions are rooted in specific communities, from Detroit to New Orleans to Minneapolis.

This year, in partnership with Detroit Future Youth, Youthprise worked to cultivate and support youth-centered spaces, sessions, and movement building at the conference. With that in mind, we designed the “Youth Media & Movements” track. We know that youth are essential to movement building and we asked for session proposals that were youth-centered. This means sessions were designed and facilitated by and for youth; were accessible and hands-on; and promoted the diversity of voices, skills and wisdom that youth around the world have to offer.

In total, the youth track received an overwhelming number of 40 session proposals for 8 spots. Twelve of these session proposals were from Minnesota-based organizations, many of which are Youthprise partners. After the coordinators narrowed down the accepted proposals, four of the eight proposals accepted in the youth track were from Minnesota. They were:

  • Akicita Teca: Decolonizing Education
  • Juxtaposition Arts: Arts, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability
  • Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center: Illuminate Your Cause
  • SPNN: Youth Advisory Councils (General track)

In addition to supporting session proposals from other organizations, Youthprise’s Youth Research team coordinated a session as part of the Research Justice track, which offered an opportunity to share innovative work Youthprise is spearheading in Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) and research justice. In collaboration with Uhuru Black Scholars, Neighborhood Hub’s Health Disparity Project and Akicita Teca, Youthprise’s research team provided hands-on activities to show how youth-led research can be done.

Youthprise prioritized participation in AMC to achieve five goals:

  • Build capacity for Youthprise grantees, partners and the field in Minnesota,
  • Elevate Minnesotan organizations as a leaders in youth/adult partnerships on a national level,
  • Create collateral for Youthprise’s media campaign designed to build capacity around youth/adult partnerships; and
  • Grow internal capacity around the use of innovative technologies.

Our Vision for Research

YPAR in Minnesota


This June Youthprise’s research team brought their vision for research justice to Detroit at the Allied Media Conference. In collaboration with Minnesota research partners Neighborhood Hub, Uhuru Black Scholars and Oyate Nipi Kte, the team presented a session under the Research Justice track called “Youth-Led Participatory Action Research.”

This session offered an alternative approach that seeks to harness the collective power of youth voices and give youth the legitimate means to question “official” representations of their communities in creative and empowering ways: Participatory Action Research (PAR). The Minnesota organizations presenting at the session offered their experiences in centering PAR around young people in their communities: Youth Participatory Action Research, or YPAR.

Oyate Nipi Kte (The People Shall Live) is a Dakota organization dedicated to the revitalization of Dakota language, land, culture and lifeways, focused through a lens of decolonization.  As such they are trying to take a multi-pronged approach to issues faced in Dakota communities across the United States and Canada.  They are working to launch a new program called Wakanyeza Tehindapi (Beloved Children), focusing on improving perinatal outcomes in Dakota communities, through preconception/reproductive counseling and reproductive healthcare, childbirth education classes, breastfeeding support, infant and early childhood parenting classes and a broad spectrum of midwifery care (prenatal, intra-partum and postpartum).  This is all in an effort to return to traditional healthcare systems, in which healthcare practices were collectively owned, managed and joined.

The qualitative research aspect of this project (interviews and community data collection) will be performed by female youth, either just prior to or early in childbearing years, so they can set up a system they think will be useful to them in the coming years.  This summer, they will be interviewing Dakota people, eventually creating a media presentation to give in Dakota communities about collective experience and available healthcare options.

Neighborhood Hub has invested in Youthprise to create a YPAR team to investigate health disparities in North Minneapolis. This group consists of seven high school age youth from North Minneapolis who work closely with Youthprise’s research team to engage in YPAR. They seek to examine the prevalence of health disparities between the predominantly Black community of North Minneapolis and elsewhere. This process involved interviews, focus groups, readings and group discussions with Black youth from the Northside.

In 2013 and 2014 Uhuru Youth Scholars’ research focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Specifically, they investigated how much access youth in St. Paul have to HBCUs. Part of the research design was to interview alumni, current students, guidance counselors, and admissions representatives from HBCUs to figure out why youth in St. Paul did not get a lot of information about them. Their findings showed that misconceptions about the quality of HBCUs led to a lack of information and even intentional covering up of these schools.

Youthprise’s approach to research is twofold. As an organization, Youthprise makes investments in projects that we want to support, like Oyate Nipi Kte and Uhuru Black Scholars. We invest in training young people to do research on issues important to them and we receive contracts and grants from larger institutions to do youth-led research on topics like holistic indicators and health disparities.

Outside of our revenue producing projects, Youthprise is working with local partners to build a statewide research network of young people. This network will be used by young people to collect, share and strategize about data and how it can impact communities across Minnesota.

We were excited to bring our learning to Detroit and learn from our counterparts nationally in the Research Justice network. In addition, Youthprise is sponsoring a Minnesota research conference in July called “What Went Wrong?” that seeks to bring new thinking to the field of research and share lessons learned on partnering with communities to do large-scale data gathering.

Youthprise’s strategic focus areas include Innovation in Youth Engagement and Systems Building. Our research team engages youth through the research process by positioning them as researchers and experts in training who will then inform the systems that impact their lives. The Youthprise strategy is to influence change in all three aspects of “systems” work: coordination, data and quality. We use youth engagement as a tool to create more inclusive and influential systems by improving the process by which these systems are built. Research is just one example of how we impact systems building in Minnesota – and nationally.

Juxtaposition Arts'

Entrepreneurial Approach to


The definition of the term juxtapose is to place close together for contrasting effect, in other words, to look at things side-by-side. For the non-profit organization Juxtaposition Arts, youth development and employment opportunities are put side-by-side. Taking into account the fact that there are not many organizations that provide free art programs and employment opportunities for youth, we know that Juxtaposition Arts’ work and mission are integral for the success of Minnesota youth, particularly in North Minneapolis.

Shelley Martin, Juxta’s Youth Engagement Coordinator, says about their work, “ the fundamentals are to create opportunities for youth in arts and developing young people’s problem solving skills with creativity. ”

The organization began with classes and workshops on arts such as graphite, photography, and stencil art, which then lead to the relatively new youth employment piece of the organization’s mission. Juxta now provides youth with the opportunity to become entrepreneurs with their arts and talents by giving them the teachings and space to create and sell their work.

As part of our “Youth Media & Movements” track at Allied Media Conference, Juxta presented a session called “Art for Sustainability and Enterprise.” Four youth apprentices, accompanied by Ms. Martin, facilitated a conversation that offered youth and adult perspectives on using arts for self-sustainability.

They spoke with young people on how to use their talents and skills to build capacity for themselves and gave them tools they need to be leaders in youth entrepreneurship. But since this was Juxta’s first time presenting with youth, they were not sure about the change they would create.

Juxta plans to expand their work by connecting with all types of people with varied interests from all types of places. In the future, they hope to keep the four labs they have available on arts, and also create more programs for youth - whether that will be multiple workshops or new projects. Their ultimate goal is to provide opportunities for youth they have not yet reached.

Juxta has high hopes that young people will be inspired to be self-determined, find the capacity and creativity to do for themselves, and become problem solvers by looking at the world through critical perspectives. They will continue to work beyond AMC so that young people will be sure to have tools and knowledge they need to work with whatever medium they choose.

To learn more about Juxtaposition Arts and ways to collaborate with their work, visit or contact Shelley Martin at

SPNN: Youth

Take Documentation into Their Own Hands

For the past few months, the countdown to the Allied Media Conference AKA #detroittakeover AKA #everyone2thedancefloor has been in full effect.

Prior to leaving, “excited” did not even begin to describe my feelings towards our trip to AMC. I anticipated having my mind blown multiple times by new ideas, people, and content, not to mention being in one of the most uniquely complex and culturally rich cities in the United States- Deeetroit!! As if those weren’t enough donuts to eat, I had the delicious pleasure of traveling with close to 50 people from some of Minnesota’s most awesomest youth organizations and institutions. (Yes, most awesomest.)

So what does one do whilst this beautiful chaos erupts for three days on the Motown, Motor City turf? One must ensure there will be responsible parties in charge of capturing this high pace, unfolding media mosaic. Enter SPNN!! With an operation of five Comcast cable channels, a 52,000 household reach, and a pillar when it comes to youth media - it was a no-brainer to partner with St. Paul Neighborhood Network to capture our shenanigans at AMC.

SPNN’s mission is “ To empower people to use media and communications to better lives, use authentic voice and build common understanding - a perfect alignment with AMC’s mission to connect, create and transform neighborhood and communities around the world. While this isn’t Youthprise and SPNN’s first collaboration, this was the first time our teams traveled together outside the state. Our collaboration was intended to not only capture our epic conference experience, but to showcase the awesome work Minnesota organizations are sharing at AMC, as well as delivering some unique research content for our Youth Participatory Action Research team.

But the SPNN Youth team didn’t stop there. In addition to documenting our trip, they led two events at AMC as well. The first was on mobile phone practices, which provided hands-on advice on how to use mobile devices for creative documentation, and the second was a session on Youth Advisory Councils as a model for institutionalizing youth voice in an organization. In other words, they worked haarrd and shared their expertise with a national audience of youth and adults.

Before we left Minnesota, I wanted to find out from this incredible team of creatives what they were looking forward to at AMC and if they were nervous, excited, confused, or (like me) over-caffeinated.

I’m really looking forward to connecting with the Detroit Future Youth team and looking at the similarities and differences between our Minnesota Youth. That’s Darartu Tashoma, a junior at St.Paul Central and a three-year member with SPNN. I’m the president of a woman empowerment group at Central called SHE. I’ve seen some workshops on the AMC website specifically pertaining to women and social justice issues so I’d like to bring back some of that information to my girls and break some of the barriers between youth and adults in the high school.

Destiny Roberts, a four-year SPNN member and sophomore at University Wisconsin Stout, is really excited about making new contacts for her personal and professional network. I’m looking forward to building a strong network with people and discovering new perspectives and different views on social justice issues through media. I think AMC will be a great space to work on my overall professionalism and speaking with industry experts. Another area I’m passionate about besides film is music. I rap, sing, and make beats. I connect with people on a music level and I’ve always been really low key about my music but I’m excited since there will be so many different types of artists represented at AMC.

Darartu: “ I think the mobile phone practice workshop SPNN is putting together will be really helpful for organizations with less funding, but also useful overall for everyone involved in education and working with young people. We will be sharing new ideas with one of the most accessible tools around- a cell phone- and we want people to walk away saying, ‘Wow, I didn’t even think I could do that’.

Destiny: “ I was thinking about a documentary on how the young people at Youthprise conduct their research, showing the process of what (Youthprise) goes through and how they find the information and interview the subjects. For example, while Youthprise does the FRISK work, we can go out and interview the kids and see how they feel about being harassed by police or have them share their story about being arrested.

Darartu: “ Equipment is my primary concern, getting everything there, deciding what we can bring. Capturing Youthprise’s YPAR workshop is probably going to be the biggest challenge since we need to cover an entire workshop with clean sound and clean shots so I hope our adults will help us with that. Overall I think we will work well together though.

Destiny: “ I’m hoping we have great communication with each other because if we aren’t on the same page then we aren’t going to get out what we need. Hoping people stay open minded about ideas and listen to each other... the reason why we are there in the first place is to be open to new ideas and listen so I hope we are all on the same page and communicate well.


Soooo....It’s pretty safe to say that while we were in Detroit, we were in awesome hands. Stay tuned for photos and videos of AMC from Youthprise, SPNN, and all our friends (even the ones we just made). #youth4change



the  Art  in

STE  A         M

The core purpose of the Kitty Anderson Youth Science Center (KAYSC) is to “empower youth to change the world through science.” KAYSC has a Teen Technology Center where youth have opportunities to learn about Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) in ways that are relevant to them – through music, environmental justice and issues relevant to their communities. They conceptualize STEM as STEAM – the “a” stands for arts.

When I spoke with Oanh Vu, the Climate Change and Teen Tech Crew Manager, she highlighted some of the core areas of interest for KAYSC:

  • Empowering youth through technology,
  • Providing drop-in centers for youth in the community, and
  • Creating opportunities for youth who don’t get to geek out and get creative.

At the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, KAYSC presented a session that incorporated STEM, arts, and social justice into a youth-friendly format. “Illuminate Your Cause” taught participants how to build a light sculpture to represent a cause that was important to each participant. Youth kept participants engaged and worked with people to connect batteries and wires and eventually create an illuminated light. The session was hands-on and participants walked away with a light sculpture they built in partnership with KAYSC youth.

Like their mission, the KAYSC session involved a great deal of conversation around social justice and issues important to communities. KAYSC took something that seems complicated and made it simple, and more importantly, meaningful. This was one of the only sessions that allowed participants the opportunity to walk away with something--both mentally and physically.

Ultimately KAYSC is a cool program that engages youth and encourages them to think outside the box and build strong connections. This youth-led hands-on session really displayed how important intergenerational learning opportunities are for youth and adults alike.



youth to change

the world

through science.