Next Generation Community Leaders Initiative: Collaborating With Youth to Develop Leaders and Healthier Communities


  • Robert L. Atkins New Jersey Health Initiatives, Rutgers University-Camden
  • Daniel Hart Institute for Educational Effectiveness, Rutgers University-Camden
  • Susan Altman Institute for Educational Effectiveness, Rutgers University-Camden



youth, partners, urban, community, equity


Central to addressing the social determinants of health and challenges to health equity in the United States is the growing acknowledgement among solution seekers of the importance of cross-sector collaborators and partners. Youth are an underutilized and overlooked partner, especially in vulnerable urban communities, who bring diverse perspectives on their communities. Provided the opportunity and resources (e.g., coaching, compensation, and connections), youth can add value as partners to solve problems and achieve goals to benefit their communities. In this paper we review and discuss the Next Generation Community Leaders initiative (NGCL) a $2.8 million initiative funded by New Jersey Health Initiatives, the statewide grantmaking program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We also describe findings from an independent evaluation of NGCL that explored how investments in youth through youth-serving organizations benefitted the youth who participated and increased health equity in their communities. Finally, we share 5 principles of youth engagement that we identified through our work as practitioners and scholars.

Author Biography

Robert L. Atkins, New Jersey Health Initiatives, Rutgers University-Camden

Director/Associate Professor


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