May 27, 2004
Youth-Led Social Activism

The Freechild Project, PO Box 6185, Olympia, Washington 98507-6185

INTRODUCTION: Across the nation young people are leading their communities in activism for social change.

POINT TO PONDER: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

RESOURCES: The following are websites, organizations and publications that share the power and purpose of youth-led social activism. There are several types of resources listed, including organizations, databases, publications, and other resources. These are all progressive youth-led or youth-focused activism organizations, websites, and resources that conduct or promote youth activism for broad social justice.

Youth Activism Organizations

Youth Empowerment Center
(Oakland, CA) - This is the youth empowerment center website with information about several Bay Area youth organizing groups.

Homies Unidos
(Los Angeles, CA) - A non-profit dedicated to positive organizing among Latino youth gangs. The site includes useful research and other related material.

JustAct: Youth Action for Global Justice
(San Francisco, CA) - JustAct is a national non-profit organization which seeks to promote a powerful and unified global youth movement led by young people of color and working class youth in the U.S. and around the world.

Refuse & Resist
(New York, NY) - A national youth activist network organizing around a range of issues, including Mumia Abu-Jamal's incarceration, reproductive freedom, immigrant rights, privacy and police brutality.

Ruckus Society
(Oakland, CA) - The Ruckus Society provides training in the skills of non-violent civil disobedience to help environmental and human rights organizations achieve their goals. The site offers training manuals for non-violent protest and information about action camps.

Global Youth Connect
(Mountain View, CA) - Our mission is to build and support a community of youth working to defend human rights and social justice and to inspire and empower a new generation of youth to act for meaningful social change.

The Young & the Restless - Highlander Center
(New Market, TN) - Offers the democratic space and the skills for youth aged 15-21 to find their own voices and leadership. The program works with young people in a number of ways, including extensive outreach, field visits, and ongoing backup to support youth activists in their communities; and an intensive, youth-led camp called Seeds of Fire that gathers 20-25 young activists and provides them with peer-based training and experiences that open up the concepts of youth power, critical thinking about organizing, and ownership of their own projects and organizations.

The Center for Teen Empowerment
(Boston, MA) - The mission of the Center for Teen Empowerment is to realize the potential of inner-city youth to build healthier and safer communities and schools. Teen Empowerment hires and trains urban youth, including at risk youth, to be community organizers. Our programs are based on the belief that urban youth represent a valuable, untapped resource and can significantly contribute to the rejuvenation of neighborhoods and local institutions.

Kids Can Make a Difference
(Maine) - An educational program for middle- and high school students, focuses on the root causes of hunger and poverty, the people most affected, solutions, and how students can help. The major goal is to stimulate students to take follow-up actions as they begin to realize that one person can make a difference. KIDS and World Hunger Year (WHY) publishes Finding Solutions to Hunger: Kids Can Make A Difference.

Seattle Young People's Project
(Seattle, WA) - Seattle Young People's Project is a youth-led youth empowerment organization set up to provide young people with a voice to effect social change.

Youth Action
(Albuquerque, NM) - Youth building power, demanding justice, and creating change. YouthAction's vision is to prepare the new wave of youth who are, and will continue to be, the lifeblood of community improvement efforts for the coming decades.

Youth Struggling for Survival
(Chicago, IL) - YSS is a youth-driven and youth-directed social action group that aims to bring youth together along their common interest, and to help divert often violent energies toward self empowerment, social change, and unity."

Just Act! for Human Rights
(Washington, DC) - Changing young people's lives by helping them develop the leadership and vision necessary to advocate for meaningful change in their communities.

Youth Speak
(San Francisco, CA) - Building and nurturing the next generation of leaders through the written and spoken word. Our innovative programs nurture and develop the youth voice and promote positive social dialogue across boundaries of age, race, class, gender, culture, and sexual orientation. Throughout each facet of the organization, Youth Speak encourages active literacy, honest writing, and critical thought.

Listen, Inc.
(Washington, DC) - LISTEN believes that effective youth leadership exists on street corners, in crowded classrooms, in juvenile detention centers, in youth development organizations and in street organizations.

Ya-Ya Network
A NY citywide network of young activists, their adult allies & established youth programs. They connect groups & individuals, share information & resources & help youth programs collaborate on projects & issues.

The Freechild Project Funds for Youth Activism
(Website) - Includes grants specifically for young people (12-30) engaging in activist work, as well as a useful listing of foundations renowned for their support of youth activists.

The Freechild Project Resources for the Hands, the Heart, and the Soul
(Website) - This page has resources about community-oriented organizations and media that promotes social justice throughout the world.

Youth Activism Databases

Future 500
A huge database of youth activism projects across the U.S., focused on the hip-hop movement for social justice.

Youth Activism Project
Resources on funding, examples, and more.
Examples of powerful youth activism from around the world, particularly focused on anti-globalization and racism.

Our aim is to provide a virtual space where young people can share lessons, stories, information and advice on how to lead effective change.

TakingITGlobal (TIG) is an international organization, led by youth, empowered by technology. TIG brings together young people in more than 190 countries within international networks to collaborate on concrete projects addressing global problems and creating positive change.

Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
Foundations that specifically support youth activism, particularly focusing on the U.S.

Idealist - Organizations Started by Kids & Teens
The organizations listed here were started and are run by young people.


Global Uprising
By Neva Welton and Linda Wolf. "Global Uprising is an exciting piece of contemporary history. It brings us the voices of some of the finest young people of this generation, accompanied by the commentaries of veteran activists and scholars. There are inspiring personal stories and thoughtful reflections on the tactics of direct action. For anyone despairing of the rule of money and power over human life, here is a testament to the spirit of resistance, a reason to hope." - Howard Zinn, historian, activist, and author of A People's History of the United States

The Co/Motion Guide to Youth-Led Social Change
By the Alliance for Social Justice. The Co/Motion Guide to Youth-Led Social Change, is designed to empower young people to be community problem-solvers and ignite a lifelong commitment to social justice activism. This 250-page guide outlines the processes and steps of working for change, including: research, campaign planning, organizing meetings, making and meeting a budget, and working with the media. Throughout are profiles of actual youth-led campaigns in the U.S. and Canada, and illustrative proverbs from a variety of cultures.

The 26% Solution: Youth
Wendy Lesko And Emanuel Tsourounis Ii.
Activism 2000 Project, 1998.

The Future Is Ours
This book brings together a dozen young activists to offer their experience and advice to young people who want to change the world. Their message "We can change the world. Here's how."

Reading, Writing, and Rising Up: Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word
By Linda Christensen. This book helps teachers who want to teach for change and action. It joins a small collection of books about using pedagogy for social justice by writers like bell hooks, Paulo Freire, Ariel Dorfman, and others. Reading, Writing, and Rising Up is an welcome addition to a continuing conversation.

Youth activism articles clipping service
Information from around the world.

Other Resources for Youth Activists

Freechild Consultation
The Freechild Project offers training and technical assistant to organizations throughout the United States and Canada in several areas.

Youth in Focus
is a non-profit consulting and training organization dedicated to institutional change and social justice.

The Rosenberg Fund for Children
Established to provide for the educational and emotional needs of children whose parents have suffered because of their progressive activities and who, therefore are no longer able to provide fully for their children. The RFC also provides grants for the educational and emotional needs of targeted activist youth.

The Learning Institute for Non-Profits