How do our grantees advance racial equity and or youth engagement in their programs?
Toward the end of 2018, the Youthprise Research and Evaluation Team conducted grantee interviews to investigate that question. We were purposeful about making the interview process more interactive and comfortable for our grantees, and intentional about selecting grantees that we had not typically highlighted. The Research and Evaluation Team designed an interview template that followed our theory of change, and the themes throughout the interviews were racial equity and youth engagement.
One goal of the interviews was to strengthen our relationships with our grantees and to elevate and share their stories of impact. In 2019, the Team compiled the data and wrote the stories, which will now be highlighted on our website and social media.
Navigate / Unidos MN
Navigate is an intersectional, women-led, millennial-led, Latinx-based organization that builds power for gender, racial, and economic justice. Navigate prioritizes leadership development, capacity-building, and community organizing to achieve justice across various systems that impact marginalized communities.
We'll be highlighting two of Navigate's greatest strengths: youth decision-making and preserving youth voice.
Youth leadership and youth decision-making is practiced through having the majority of the staff as young people. Youth are at the center of the organization making decisions on issues that impact their lives.
What better way to learn what young people need than listening to them?
One of the Navigate programs we are highlighting is the Poder Fellowship.
Janett Casillas, a 19-year old Poder Fellow, participates in the organization through community organizing, public policy, facilitating, and conducting research projects such as “Protest to Power: Truths told and community vision through research.” This project is one of many created by youth, for youth.
Youth researchers have the ability to decide the direction and budget of the project that truly reflects their values while “operating on a system of participatory democracy.”
“Young people know the problems that affect them better than anyone, and giving them the capacity and agency to take leadership and decide how to address them without patronizing or dismissing them is what youth leadership is to me.”
-Janett Casillas, Poder Fellow
PRESERVING YOUTH VOICE
Navigate expresses their passion for racial equity through their mission and values. They practice racial equity by “applying an intersectional lens to examine the multiple ways identities cross and shape a person’s life” because this welcomes young people to come as their full self. Providing a safe space that allows young people to have dialogue about their feelings, identity, goals, and what impacts their daily lives builds a foundation and system of individuality, understanding, and trust.
Not only do these conversations preserve youth voice, it provides insight to organizations like Navigate and other “policy makers on the issues affecting the community and provides insight as to how to address youth issues through public policy.”
Practicing active listening provides more solutions to the issues that impact young people.
At a time where hope may seem unattainable, Navigate’s vision reminds us that hope is still in reach. “Our youth represent the promises of ancestors past who dared to dream a better life was possible. Our youth represent the present, because we unapologetically believe in our full selves and our potential now. Our youth are the future, the promise that a better world is possible”.