Youth Participatory Action Research Toolkit

Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) is a community-based social justice research framework that inclusively supports the leadership and knowledge of youth most impacted by disparities to develop solutions for social, cultural, and political transformation.

Within the YPAR Toolkit are activities, handouts, tips, and reflections that facilitate lessons on building authentic relationships, co-creating with community, defining YPAR, creating a YPAR proposal for funders, outreaching to community, collecting data, analyzing with community, building solutions with community, and making action plans that move data into transformative action.


YPAR comes out of Participatory Action Research (PAR), an innovative approach to building knowledge that involves the people most affected by a particular issue. YPAR includes those most affected by the issue conducting research and analysis to develop solutions that are better able to bring about social, cultural, and political transformation. YPAR offers young people training and support to conduct and lead systemic research to improve their lives, their communities, and the institutions intended to serve them. This process honors relationships and builds community trust by establishing mutual reciprocity and respect between researchers and the community.

The Youthprise Action Research Team is building a statewide network of YPAR practitioners through funding research projects in Minnesota and providing technical assistance.


Youthprise Principles of Youth Participatory Action Research

RESEARCH INFORMED BY COMMUNITY INTERESTS

When exclusive, research can bring harm to communities, reinforce power imbalances, or wrongfully appropriate the knowledge(s) of marginalized groups. Instead, YPAR research is based on the needs and interests of community. Young people and their communities establish how they are active experts on their own conditions, experiences, values and culture.  

CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE

YPAR honors relationships and builds trust by establishing mutual reciprocity and respect between researchers and community. Research design is a mutually engaged learning process with culturally appropriate methods influenced by different worldviews, ceremony, deep listening, and oral histories.  

PROJECT GUIDED BY YOUTH AND PARTICIPANTS

YPAR challenges hierarchical forms of research design: all researchers and participants have equal roles in planning & conducting research and interpreting & evaluating data. Research that starts by identifying the issues about which participants have strong feelings and can relate to from their own experiences will go further in reaching people.  

RELEVANT AND APPLICABLE KNOWLEDGE

By engaging in a research action project that follows the needs and stakes of community members, knowledge gathered by researchers benefits the community. Data and findings can be shared via various mediums: public art, poetry series, and theatre or any other creative application of findings recommended by those directly involved in the project. By collaborating with community partners, data gathered can inform programs, community development, and policy–shifting public debates and expanding local expertise.

SYSTEMIC CHANGE

YPAR centers the decision-making and critical dialogues of youth most impacted by inequality. YPAR addresses the root causes of problems and works to transform the quality of each person’s life, the environment, the community, and the whole society. Research for social change is not an individualistically-driven academic practice, but a dynamic combination of community research and action that catalyzes systemic change.  

REFLECTION AND ACTION

Through ongoing exploration, reflection, and action; researchers, organizers, and community members build community when celebrating successes and troubleshooting challenges. Conflict is a natural part of this process and can build relationships that share power. 

WHY YPAR ?

YPAR is suggested for organizations who model positive youth development and value youth voice, youth leadership, and youth action. Projects should be aligned with Youthprise’s three Impact Areas:

LEADERSHIP AND LEARNING

Promote the learning, leadership, and social-emotional development of youth and seek to shift how programs engage youth in leadership and governance.

ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

Create opportunities for economic prosperity by supporting programs and initiatives that build workforce skills, promote youth entrepreneurship, and expose youth to career pathways.

RESOURCES PLANNING

Champion programs that promote the holistic health & safety of young people by meeting basic health needs and ensuring young people are safe and not criminalized in their communities.

Within the Impact Areas, projects should focus on one or more of the following topics:

• Out of School Time

• Disability Justice

• Creating Alternatives to Youth Incarceration

• Addressing/Healing Trauma

• Increasing Accessibility

• Addressing Mental Health Needs

• Improving Water and Food Access

• Youth-Centered Learning

• Stabilizing Housing / Ending Homelessness

Learn more through our YPAR/Youthbank webinar:

To purchase a toolkit, schedule a training, or learn more:

Please contact Irina Barrera at irina@youthprise.org