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ACT for Youth

Youth-Adult Partnerships for Change

Over the past few years, ACT for Youth and the University of Wisconsin have worked together to create a solid foundation for the practice of youth-adult partnership (Y-AP). Based on research, as well as work with policy makers and practitioners, the following resources will be helpful to audiences with a range of experience supporting youth and adults in partnership:

Preparing for Youth Engagement
Shepherd Zeldin, Jill Gurtner, and Brie Chapa (2018)

When preparing organizations for youth engagement, even the most experienced professionals often wonder if they are doing it correctly. Fortunately, there are research-based guidelines to help us. In this edition of PrACTice Matters, the authors discuss youth voice, youth-adult partnership (Y-AP), and youth organizing, and provide a practical checklist to aid planning for Y-AP.

The Psychology and Practice of Youth-Adult Partnership
Shepherd Zeldin, Brian Christens, and Jane Powers
American Journal of Community Psychology (2012)
doi 10.1007/s10464-012-9558-y

This article summarizes the literature on youth-adult partnership from historical, empirical, and practice perspectives. It makes the case that Y-AP is a core practice -- an active ingredient -- underlying positive youth development and youth civic development. The article highlights the positive influences that Y-AP has on young people, staff, organizations, and community leaders. Such influences occur, however, only when Y-AP is designed and implemented with quality. Quality is demonstrated when youth:

  • are involved in authentic decision making,
  • interact with and are coached by "natural mentors,"
  • are expected to teach adults and learn with them through reciprocal activity, and
  • have opportunities to connect with community residents and institutions.

Youth-Adult Partnerships in Evaluation: A Resource Guide for Translating Research into Practice
Shepherd Zeldin, Libby Bestul, and Jane Powers (2012)

Over the past decade, a solid body of research has been conducted on the processes and outcomes of youth and adults working together on evaluation projects. Building from the research, this Resource Guide offers:

  • Tip sheets that identify the leverage points most critical to the success of youth-adult partnerships in evaluation
  • Comprehensive list of data analysis strategies
  • Recommended reading for field practitioners
  • Annotated bibliography of Y-AP research

Being Y-AP Savvy: A Primer on Creating and Sustaining Youth-Adult Partnerships
Shepherd Zeldin and Jessica Collura (2010)

Being Y-AP Savvy is the companion piece to the presentation listed immediately above. This action-oriented manual identifies the six most important questions that groups have to ask and answer in order to design high quality Y-AP. It provides tools for youth and adults to identify their own principles and practices of Y-AP. Equally important, the manual helps organizations discover and leverage their collective expertise and insight to implement Y-AP.

Youth and Adult Leaders for Program Excellence (YALPE): A Practical Guide for Program Assessment and Action Planning
Linda Camino, Shepherd Zeldin, Carrie Mook, and Cailin O'Connor (2004)

YALPE is a comprehensive toolkit for organizations that are ready to assess the quality of their youth development programming and the participation of youth in organizational governance and planning. The YALPE toolkit provides assessment instruments and practical guidance for collecting and analyzing data. It also contains clear directions on how to collect, analyze, and interpret data and use it to strengthen organizations.