Leading With Youth of Color: Organizing for Educational Change


  • Rachael Lee Ficke Clemons Rhode Island College




social justice youth development, youth organizing, youth worker


In the United States, young people of color are under attack. The school-to-prison pipeline, poverty, and racism are some of the systems of oppression that young people of color navigate. The challenging conditions that youth of color face have historically been met by their powerful resistance. Young people of color have fought for educational equity for decades. In the community in which this research study was situated, social justice youth development (SJYD) workers supported youth as they resisted unjust educational policies. I set out to answer the research question: In urban communities, how do youth workers engage adolescent youth in social justice activism? I found that adult youth workers at People for Change, a SJYD organization, maintained a consistent and multi-layered approach to supporting youth as they engaged in social justice activism. This paper highlights the ways in which adult youth workers (a) networked adult and youth supporters, (b) engaged in action, and (c) co-constructed knowledge with young people of color.

Author Biography

Rachael Lee Ficke Clemons, Rhode Island College

Youth Development Field Coordinator 



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