AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators



YFE Week: Katie Richards-Schuster on a Declaration for Youth Participation

Hi, I’m Katie Richards-Schuster from the Michigan Youth and Community Program at the University of Michigan School of Social Work.  Over the last 10 years, the Michigan Youth and Community Program has been working to engage young people in community-based participatory evaluation.   Much of our work has focused on capacity building activities—training and education—but also documenting the process of youth participation, creating conceptual models for practice, and developing best practices for the field.

Hot Tip: For this blog, I want to share a declaration of practice principles developed in collaboration with youth and adult participants during a Wingspread symposium on Youth Participation in Community Research and Evaluation. The declaration outlines core principles and provides a guiding framework for the field.   I think it remains a valuable set of concepts for anyone interested in engaging young people in evaluation.

Wingspread Declaration of Principles for Youth Participation in Community Research and Evaluation

  • Youth participation in community research and evaluation transforms its participants. It transforms our ways of knowing, the strategies we devise, the methods we employ, and our program of work.
  • Youth participation promotes youth empowerment. It recognizes the experience and expertise of all young people, and respects their leadership capacities and potential contributions.
  • Youth participation builds mutually liberatory partnerships. It values the assets of all ages, and fosters supportive and respectful youth/youth and youth/adult working relationships.
  • Youth participation equalizes power relationships between youth and adults. It establishes a level playing field clarifying for participants the purpose of the process and the power imbalances between groups. It structures environments that respect the involvement of young people, and train adults in supporting genuine youth decision-making and leadership development.
  • Youth participation is an inclusive process that recognizes all forms of democratic leadership, young and old. It involves diverse populations and perspectives, especially those who are traditionally underserved and underrepresented.
  • Youth participation involves young people in meaningful ways. Young people participate in all stages of the process, from defining the problem, to gathering and analyzing the information, to making decisions and taking action.
  • Youth participation is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Participants continuously clarify and reflect upon its purpose and content. Research and evaluation are viewed as an integral part of knowledge development, program planning, and community improvement.

Rad Resource: For more information about the Wingspread Declaration or other resources on participatory evaluation with young people, please visit our website:  Among other papers and information about projects, you can download two workbooks:  Participatory Evaluation With Young People and Facilitator’s Guide for Participatory Evaluation With Young People.   The workbooks are available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Youth Focused Evaluation (YFE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the YFE AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our YFE  TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


  • Becca C. · March 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Thank you for the workbooks! These are powerful resources, and very timely for me as I begin an evaluation of a youth program. What amazing work you all are doing.


  • Stella SiWan Zimmerman · March 7, 2012 at 11:49 am


    The list of bullets are very helpful for me. We are trying to frame indicators for a youth program we are working with. Thanks for the post!


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