Youth Organizing: Young People Engaged in Collective Action Can Affect Social Change

February 5, 2018

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Leslie, a Sophomore at Oakland Unity High School, was originally very shy, didn't participate much in discussions, and was unsure of her responses. Enter CCSA Youth Organizing. After working with members of our team, Leslie is now more open, voices her opinions, and is developing her leadership skills while learning to take charge. Leslie's story is one of many that demonstrate how youth organizing impacts our communities, fostering development and affecting social change.

Many youth organizing programs like workshops, trainings, and support groups are youth-led. The Student Organizing and Civic Engagement (SOCE) club is an in-school initiative created by CCSA to empower students to become civically engaged leaders in their communities. SOCE clubs are in upwards of ten schools in the Bay Area and Los Angeles and growing. Maria Ramirez, a Youth Organizer at CCSA, works with students in SOCE clubs to encourage them to become civically engaged and spread the word that youth are partners in change. Maria explains, "There should be more focus on Youth Organizing in general. We have adults making all of the decisions. Youth are seen as less empowered -this is not the case. Youth need encouragement and empowerment and Youth Organizing can provide this."

Youth organizing is an effective strategy that trains young people to engage in collective action to improve aspects of their community that directly affect them, including the education system, immigration system or the juvenile justice system. Youth organizers also work to change policy and practice in issues such as economic and environmental justice. In Leslie's case, youth organizing has empowered her to become a leader. Young people--just like Leslie--have the power to create change and be partners in change, and we believe there is an opportunity to recognize and respect this idea.