September 5, 2017

Youth-Adult Partnerships

In a youth-adult partnership (often referred to as Y-AP),  adult AND youth assets are utilized, contributions are valued, the learning is reciprocal.  Building authentic youth-adult partnerships in the classroom can take time to build but significantly improve learning outcomes (see research below).  The Earth Force Process is most effective when an authentic youth-adult partnership is formed and students have the opportunity to explore and solve problems in their local community.  The following resources may help you to:

  • Design youth-adult partnership activities, lead clarifying discussions, and scaffold opportunities for authentic student voice and engagement
  • Help students to uncover the answer to questions to which you don’t know the answer
  • Use guiding questions to remain in the “mentor in the center” role

Resources to Understand Youth-Adult Partnerships:

Sociologist Roger Hart wrote a book called Children’s Participation: The Theory And Practice Of Involving Young Citizens In Community Development And Environmental Care in 1997. This groundbreaking work put the work of young people and adult allies around the world in the context of a global movement for participation, offering needed guidance and criticism of many efforts. The “Ladder of Youth Participation,” is one of many significant tools from the book.

Youth Engagement Continuum

Classroom Activities & Resources:

Using Criteria-Based Decision-Making

Democratic Voting Practices

Tips for Adults on Building Y-APs

Y-AP Resource Kit

Y-APs Guide (includes assessment)

Additional Activities to build Youth-Adult Partnerships

Extensive list of classroom resources


The Search Institute provides research on the importance of youth-adult partnerships.

Students at the Center Hub.   This organization synthesizes and adapts for practice current research on key components of student-centered approaches to learning and deeper learning outcomes.