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Creating Community Change: Challenges and Tensions in Community Youth Research

Maria Fernandez
Publication Date: 
October, 2002

This paper describes the promising practice of community youth research in the context of a live example in Redwood City, California. The paper illustrates how community youth research was defined, approached, and used, and how participants worked to overcome challenges. Rather than providing a model or framework for what community youth research should look like, the author, the lead adult facilitator of Redwood City’s community youth research project, takes the reader through the city’s journey in supporting meaningful youth involvement. The paper outlines potential challenges and strategies other youth and adult researchers, policymakers, and funders may encounter and apply in this work. Through this process, youth and adults are learning by doing and coming closer together in ways that continue to re-energize themselves and others in the community—from parents to service providers to teachers, policymakers, and other young people. Redwood City is working to make community youth research its own and has opened itself to take a candid and reflective look at its efforts and work to strengthen its approach. The results are showing not only in greater resources and services but also in the number of opportunities that are surfacing for young people and that youth themselves are creating in playing a more active role in shaping their community. 

Suggested citation: 

Fernandez, M. (2002). Creating Community Change: Challenges and Tensions in Community Youth Research. Stanford, CA: John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities.

Bay Area
Policy area: 
Families, Communities, and Schools