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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.

Thomas Dee

Gardner Center Director Honored for Communication of Education Research

Thomas Dee, who serves as the faculty director for the Gardner Center, received AERA's Outstanding Public Communication of Education Research Award, which honors scholars who excel at communicating the importance of education research to wide audiences.


Gardner Center Awarded Funds to Support Youth Research Program

The Gardner Center has been awarded $7,500 to engage high school and college students as researchers within its research-practice partnerships and to investigate topics important to them and their communities.   


Creating School Environments that Foster a Sense of Belonging

How can schools create spaces in which youth of all backgrounds can thrive academically and socio-emotionally? Researcher Sebastian Castrechini shares what he's learned from in-depth studies of a diverse school district and its debate league. 

Case Study

Preparing All Students for Bright Futures

Not all teens thrive in traditional high school environments, so alternative high schools like San Andreas in San Bernardino have developed innovative ways to support students to succeed academically and prepare for college and careers.


New Data Sheds Light on California Alternative Schools

The Gardner Center has released the first publicly available data on alternative schools and youth in more than a decade, revealing that over 11 percent of California's students are enrolled in these high schools statewide and the kinds of schools that are succeeding in serving this population.

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