Generation DIY: Young people to the front.
Young leaders will forge the path to a more equitable future. As the experts in their own experience, young people must be at the center, through genuine youth leadership and youth organizing practices, of any efforts to tackle the inequitable policies and systems that impact their lives. Acknowledging that they are the leaders of today, not just tomorrow, is the key to unlocking a future where everyone can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.
We know that young people have been behind every successful movement to transform communities, culture, narrative, and policy in our nation’s history and around the world. Their experiences, insights, energy, and ideas are transformative. Genuinely involving young people in decision-making can lead to a deeper understanding of challenges and solutions that are more effective and sustainable.
We also know that tokenizing “youth voice” is not the right path forward. Rather, striving for genuine youth-adult partnerships that make space for young people to develop and hone their own power is our approach. We must build the confidence and ability of today’s young leaders to lead, and at the same time address the historical and structural causes of inequity and injustice in our communities.
Youth leadership by the numbers.
of the global population is under age 25
of the global population are Millennials
of young people under age 25 say being socially engaged is important to their identity
Our commitments to equip and support young leaders.
To help build a more equitable future for rising generations, our commitments center around enabling young leaders to find and grow their power.
Minimize the tokenization of “youth voice” and stories.
We commit to enabling young people to shape campaigns, strategies, missions, and approaches. We also commit to elevating and uplifting the voices of young people leading social justice efforts, and the allies working to support them.
Provide capacity-building infrastructure.
We commit to providing young leaders with tools, data, information, stories, and skill-building to engage key decision makers, launch and run creative campaigns, and share the lessons and impact of their work with peers and broader audiences.
Look within and continue to do better.
We hold ourselves accountable for authentically sharing power with young people at every level of our own decision-making, strategy planning and execution. We commit to listening to, learning from, and resourcing young leaders, especially those who have first-hand experience and new solutions to key challenges facing their peers and communities.
Real efforts, real impact
We partner with organizations and campaigns working to prioritize youth leadership.
Young leaders mobilizing against poverty, racism and voter supression
Since the founding of Opportunity Youth United, the youth-led movement to end poverty and increase opportunity for all in America, SparkAction has supported its young leaders with training in storytelling, digital advocacy and communications, and social media mobilizing. We are proud to power OYUnited’s web and social presence, and support its leaders to produce and amplify stories of its wide-ranging impact.
Midwest youth on the move
In Minneapolis, the Youth Congress is an example of an authentic youth-adult partnership. Among its many local successes: working with the transit authority to turn school library cards into free transit passes to help young people get to school, after-school opportunities, and jobs. We profiled its work for Youth.gov.
The SparkOpportunity Challenge
Working closely with youth advisors and advocates like Jon Bon Jovi, SparkAction launched a national video contest supporting youth-led ideas to increase access to opportunity. The winners received a small seed grant, access to a mentor, and acknowledgement at the White House.
Celebrating youth changemakers
Together with the youth-led Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council, SparkAction built and hosted a crowdsourced challenge calling for nominations of young people (ages 13-24) working locally to strengthen their communities or change policies. The winners, selected by their peers, received local and national recognition from mainstream news outlets.