Youth Driven Spaces: 4 Simple Ingredients to our “Secret Sauce”

Lazy, obnoxious, incompetent, disinterested – these are some of the traditional stereotypes that drive how adults interact with or consider youth.   Because of these beliefs, youth are rarely invited in as partners, co-creators or leaders into the spaces… Read More

Amplifying Youth Voice & Acting on it

Students and youth have a voice. Much of the time, however, their voices are drowned out by adults at schools, in their families and in the broader community.   Why do we fail as a society to hear those… Read More

Measuring teamwork: a new way to assess Youth Adult Partnerships

Unlike traditional afterschool programs in which youth are viewed as service recipients, the youth-adult partnership (Y-AP) model emphasizes that youth serve in meaningful leadership roles in an organization or program. This model has gained increasing popularity in out-of-school-time… Read More

Youth Driven in Kalamazoo: Kalamazoo County Youth Council

Meet Doreisha Reed: high school student, project coordinator, future performer and foreign delegate. As a member of the Kalamazoo County Youth Cabinet (KCYC) in Kalamazoo Michigan, Doreisha is working to make a difference in her community. KCYC is… Read More

Giving Permission: The First Step to Youth Empowerment

While visiting one of our partner schools in Detroit I had a small epiphany.   The group is starting a student advisory, a group of students who are undertaking projects and initiatives of their own choosing, to help support… Read More

Code Switching: The Trouble in Communicating Youth Development Outcomes

At a recent convening of our Music and Youth Development Alliance (MYDA) members I revealed that I “code switch” when talking about youth development outcomes.   I admitted that, depending on the (external) audience I am communicating with, I… Read More

Talk Differently: Youth Development vs. Education

“You talk differently to students than we do”. This is what a teacher recently told one of my Neutral Zone colleagues who was visiting their school in preparation for our student engagement work. I mused reflecting on this… Read More

Intrinsic Motivation – A Key to Being Youth Driven

Neutral Zone recently launched a new weekly program ‘Jam Sessions’ an opportunity for youth musicians to drop-in and improvise with other budding rap, rock or folk performers. We modeled our program after a program offered at RYSE Youth… Read More

Why being Youth Driven is Positively Deviant

Over the past week we hosted a group of four students from the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organization program. Their charge was to conduct an action learning study on Neutral Zone’s “youth-driven” approach and to determine… Read More

Why Involving Teens in Staff Hiring is Good for Everyone

At Neutral Zone we follow a number of program and organizational practices that define us as a “youth-driven space”.  One of those practices is involving teens in all staff hiring.  Yes when I say “all”, we do mean… Read More