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The Gardner Center partners with youth- and community-engaged practitioners—including community-based organizations, policymakers, civic leaders, community members, scholars, and philanthropists—to conduct research that advances positive and equitable youth and community outcomes.


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The John W. Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities is situated in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Named for the prolific thinker, innovator, and activist John W. Gardner, the center was founded in 2000 by Milbrey McLaughlin as an expression of Gardner’s vision for vibrant civic participation and civic life. At the heart of this vision is a call to ensure that we create the systems, settings, and supports that young people - including and especially those who are most vulnerable - need to develop the skills, knowledge, habits, and relationships that facilitate their full participation in civic life. Out of this vision, and in response to this call, the Gardner Center conducts research in partnership with others, and in so doing, builds our collective capacity to promote positive and equitable youth and community outcomes.

Procedures for Placing Students into Continuation High Schools

The Gardner Center is supporting the California Advisory Task Force on Alternative Education and the Education Options Council of the Association of California School Administrators to develop model standards and procedures for the placement of youth into Continuation High Schools in California. Read the Model Procedures for the Identification, Voluntary Placement, and Induction of Students into Continuation High Schools in California published in partnership with the Education Options Council. 

Housing Instability and Educational Outcomes of San Mateo County Youth

In San Mateo County, about 2,600 students experienced housing instability between 2016 and 2019, making them up to six times more likely to be chronically absent from school and four times more likely not to graduate high school.

How School Communities Can Address Compassion Fatigue & Promote Wellbeing

In this Q&A, Dr. Kristin Geiser prompts Dr. Joshi to unpack the concept of compassion fatigue and offer his thoughts on how school communities can address secondary traumatic stress and promote wellbeing.

John W. Gardner (1912-2002)

Credit: John W. Gardner Papers (SCO908)

"John  W. Gardner’s work and his vision were always about equality, justice, and the promise of human potential. He saw what so many people see as society’s insoluble problems as breathtaking opportunities. His vision for young people’s role in communities will live on through the work of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities."

-Milbrey McLaughlin
Founding Faculty Director

View a Timeline of John W. Gardner's Life