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

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 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

Neutral Zone – A Youth Driven “Discourse” Community

Being youth-driven, we let teens have a voice on the “youth-driven spaces” blog.  I am proud to share this week’s blog with a teen I am exceptionally close with, my son Myles.  Myles was an active teen at… Read More

Give Youth a Seat at the Board and a Space for their Voices

At a recent conference, I met one of the Directors of Youth on Board who asked me if we have youth on our board at Neutral Zone.  I proudly shared that 13 out of our 29 current board… Read More

Uncommon Core: What a Bunch of Teens Can Teach Schools about What they Want in School

For nearly all of our 16 year history, Neutral Zone has been engaging teens in unique literary arts programs, starting with VOLUME – our weekly and summer youth poetry project and weekly Short Story Writing workshops.   In these… Read More

Giving Students Voice in School Reform

High School is a place where many teens feel like their voices are not heard. Because of the vast academic requirements placed on schools, and teachers in particular — many feel like they simply don’t have the time… Read More

Eye of the King – Reflections from a teen on MLK

Being youth-driven, it only makes sense to let teens have a voice on the “youth-driven spaces” blog.  The excerpt below is from an incredible student leader in Benton Harbor Michigan.  Carlos Henderson is one of a group of… Read More