Youthprise’s Youth Innovation Team Facilitates National Conference on Re-Imagining Afterschool

Youth-led teams from six cities determine how to divide $100k to support their projects

Youthprise’s Youth Innovation Team spent December 2nd to December 4th in Chicago, facilitating the Youth Powered: Coming Together to Re-imagine Afterschool Conference in partnership with Every Hour Counts and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Young people from six cities across the country participated in a youth-led, youth-driven philanthropy process on how to redistribute $100,000 among themselves to re-imagine afterschool. From January to November 2022, Youthprise led teams from Kalamazoo, Chicago, Flint, Nashville, Providence, and Palm Beach County through an online design thinking process to re-imagining after school.

As a component of the project, Youthprise launched a national survey with Informed Change Consulting and Hamai Consulting, which conducted a nationwide survey of over 1,000 young people to look at what they need from afterschool programs. “You would feel the love when you walked in” was a quote from one of the young people in the focus groups. The youth have been working for the last seven months to form a program that aligns with the themes extracted from the youth focus groups. Youthprise’s Youth Innovation Team worked closely with young people and their staff members to develop site-specific plans to re-imagine after school.

The December convening in Chicago allowed the teams to meet each other in person and see all of the presentations created by the young people showcasing their big idea! During this time together, attendees participated in art shares, storytelling, and much-needed in-person time. The young people also voted on how to redistribute the $100,000. They decided each team should walk away with a portion of the funding and that no team could vote for itself. Kalamazoo emerged with the 1st place prize of $30,000, with Palm Beach County placing second, winning $200,000. Nashville, in third place, received $15,000, and the remaining $30,00 was split equally among Chicago, Flint, and Providence.

The young people made the space their own! They engaged in spirited discussions about equity and fairness and processed the challenges that come up when money is on the table. After a long day of negotiating, they celebrated their decision and walked away feeling confident! On the last day, attendees reflected in a circle together about the process. Some youth shared that they “were proud everyone stood their ground and voiced how they felt.” They recounted, “we had to make some hard decisions, but we were all able to go out and have fun together later!” They also expressed how good it felt to be in control of decision-making on issues that impact them. One of the young people stated, “We didn’t know that we would actually be deciding on who gets the funding!”

It was an amazing conference! The event was made possible by generous funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Special shoutout to Every Hour Counts and Youthprise’s Youth Innovation Team for their leadership!

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