"Youth-adult partnerships happen when young people and adults become engaged together in their communities; they are relationships between youth and adults where there is mutuality in teaching, learning, and action." These relationships usually occur within youth organizations, where they are typified by youth voice, and in democratic schools, where they are typified by student voice. Youth/adult partnerships often display a high degree of youth rights and autonomy, and is often synonymous with meaningful youth participation.
According to the State of Texas, youth-adult partnerships have allowed young people to assume the roles of advisors and consultants to youth organizations, political lobbyists, community organizers, grant (money) decision-makers, nonprofit board directors, and as direct youth service providers.
Youth-adult partnerships are said to allow young people to
- Express themselves publicly
- Gain respect for adult allies
- Find ways to express their creativity
- Work for a good cause
- Think more critically
- Be a valued asset to the project and the community
Research consistently shows that in addition to concrete outcomes, youth/adult partnerships require specific cultural and structural supports within organizations and communities in order to succeed. Youth voice is commonly recognized as an essential element of effective youth/adult partnerships.
By elevating the role of youth voice, the relationships formed by youth/adult partnerships are said to combat ephebiphobia and adultism. A broad number of parties benefit from said partnerships, including the organizations where the partnerships occur, adults who are involved, and youth themselves. Actual benefits range from increased commitment to higher feelings of self-efficacy, as well as increased organizational effectiveness and civic engagement. Youth/adult partnerships have been found to be particularly effective in addressing school improvement, promoting Global Health Initiatives, and integrating technology in the classroom.
Additional practice has identified significant roles for youth/adult partnerships in rural civic engagement projects and in creating effective outreach for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth.
- Intergenerational equity
- Youth participation
- Community youth development
- Positive psychology
- Service learning
- Youth/Adult Partnerships Factsheet University of Arizona website.
- Youth/Adult Partnerships Tip Sheet The Freechlid Project.
- SpunOut.ie National Youth Website, Ireland.
- Zeldin, S., McDaniel, A., Topitzes, D., & Lorens, M.B. (2001). "Bringing young people to the table: Effects on adults and youth organizations," CYD Journal, 2(2) p. 20-27.
- (2002) Youth/Adult Partnerships Guide Texas Network of Youth Services and Prevention and Early Intervention/Community Youth Development, Division of the Texas, Department of Protective and Regulatory Services.
- (n.d.)Dialogues Across Nebraska: Youth Adult Partnerships University of Nebraska Rural Initiative.
- Zeldin, S. and Petrokubi, J. (2006) "Understanding Innovation: Youth-Adult Partnerships in Decision Making," The Prevention Researcher. 131. Pages 11-15.
- Fletcher, A. (2006) Washington Youth Voice Handbook. Olympia, WA: CommonAction.
- Norman, J. (2001) "Building Effective Youth-Adult Partnerships", Transitions. 141, October 2001. Advocates for Youth.
- Fletcher, A. (2005) Meaningful student involvement guide to students as school partners. Bothell, WA: HumanLinks Foundation.
- Family Health International. (2002) YouthLens: Youth-Adult Partnerships Network. 222. Author.
- Goldman, G. & McCombs, B. (n.d.) Using New Educational Technologies to Empower Youth: The Power of Youth-Adult Partnerships in e-Learning. Seattle, WA: New Horizons for Learning.
- (n.d.)Civic Engagement and Youth/Adult Partnerships Arlington, VA: Rural School and Community Trust.
- (n.d.) GLSEN Jump Start: Youth Adult Partnerships New York, NY: GLSEN.