YPAR is an innovative approach to positive youth and community development in which young people are trained to conduct systematic research to improve their lives, their communities, and the institutions intended to serve them. This website will help guide you along the way: reflecting on your group’s capacity to engage in YPAR, forming a team, planning your YPAR project, and using the findings to advocate for change in your community. With YPAR, young people are the researchers and changemakers. YPAR builds skill development among youth in inquiry, evidence, and presentation. Most importantly, YPAR is action-oriented. It results in research findings that can illuminate the issues and solutions that are important to young people. Explore below for more details about YPAR and if it might work for your group!
What is YPAR?
YPAR is a cyclical process of learning and action – research is done not just for the sake of it but to inform solutions to problems that young people themselves care about. YPAR can be useful for any young people wanting to make a difference, and is an especially powerful approach for young people who are experiencing marginalization due to racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism, or other forms of oppression.
YPAR is one form of youth participation among many! We wrote this paper (link is external) to help folks understand other forms of participation, as well as similarities and differences between those modes of engagement and YPAR.
- Redefine who has the expertise to produce knowledge to our world — not just professional adult researchers but young people who are living the issues they are studying.
- Provide skills in inquiry, evidence, and presentation that are important to young people’s development as students and agents of positive change in schools and communities.
- Generate findings that provides insights into issues faced by young people that they themselves experience, as well as the resources that matter in helping solve those issues.
- Promote young people’s sociopolitical development and psychological empowerment such that they understand the roots of problems facing their communities and have the skills and motivation to take action.
- Evaluate programs, policies, and practices that affect young people.
- Is YPAR something that only people at UC Berkeley can do?
- No, not at all! Many community organizations and schools do some variation of YPAR, and we hope that you will too.
- Can I print out the lesson plans?
- Can I adapt the lesson plans to use in my own group?
- Yes, we strongly encourage you do so. We ask that you credit the site and especially the people who developed the lessons plans. Some were developed by our partners; others were shared by other teams. Let us know if you find them useful, but you don’t need to ask our permission.
- Many of your lesson plans seem to have a school focus. Can I use YPAR outside of a school setting?
- Yes, YPAR can be done anywhere where youth are, including but not limited to schools, neighborhoods, and community organizations.
- I have a story of YPAR that I would like to share. How can I submit to the website?
- We would love to hear from you, you can email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Do you have lesson plans in other languages?
- We are working on a Spanish translation of our lesson plans and would love to work with your groups if you have translations as well.
- I have more questions about YPAR. Who can I reach out to?
- We would love to hear from you! You can email us directly at email@example.com.
Is YPAR a Good Fit For Your Group?
In addition to YPAR, there are other approaches to uplifting youth voice that have different emphases. Although YPAR focuses on youth taking action, actions are informed by investigation that yields data to better target those actions. Other approaches (see below) also gather information but tend to be more focused on immediate action. These approaches can be used with YPAR or on their own. If your group:
- Understands the problem fully and is ready to go straight to action on changing a policy or practice, get inspired to do youth organizing by Forward Together.
- Is most interested in designing a product or a service to address issues concerning youth, check out design thinking with IDEO.
- Is focused on community planning issues and solutions, get inspired by Y-PLAN.
- Is curious about community-environment interactions, check out the CUNY Center for Human Environments
- For even more examples of YPAR, look to the Community Futures Community Lore resource from UC Davis