Youth-Led Social Activism



The Freechild Project has found that young people across the nation are leading their communities in activism for social change.


Point to Ponder

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." -  Margaret Mead



The following are websites, organizations and publications that share the power and purpose of youth-led social activism. There are several types of resources listed, including organizations, databases, publications, and other resources.  These are all progressive youth-led or youth-focused activism organizations, websites, and resources that conduct or promote youth activism for broad social justice.


Youth-led Social Activism Organizations


Youth Empowerment Center (Oakland, CA) - This is the youth empowerment center website with information about several Bay Area youth organizing groups.

Homies Unidos (Los Angeles, CA) - A non-profit dedicated to positive organizing among Latino youth gangs. The site includes useful research and other related material.

Ya-Ya Network Youth Activists/Youth Allies (New York, NY) - A NY citywide network of young activists, their adult allies & established youth programs. We are anti-racist, anti-sexist allies with the LGBTQ community. We are an activist organization staffed by youth 15-19, primarily youth of color. We organize around the issues that impact on the quality of life of young people in NYC with a particular focus on counter-military recruiting and the links between militarism and other social justice issues.

Refuse & Resist (New York, NY) - A national youth activist network organizing around a range of issues, including Mumia Abu-Jamal's incarceration, reproductive freedom, immigrant rights, privacy and police brutality.

Ruckus Society (Oakland, CA) - The Ruckus Society provides training in the skills of non-violent civil disobedience to help environmental and human rights organizations achieve their goals. The site offers training manuals for non-violent protest and information about action camps.


Global Youth Connect (Mountain View, CA) - Our mission is to build and support a community of youth working to defend human rights and social justice and to inspire and empower a new generation of youth to act for meaningful social change.


The Young & the Restless - Highlander Center (New Market, TN) - Offers the democratic space and the skills for youth aged 15-21 to find their own voices and leadership. The program works with young people in a number of ways, including extensive outreach, field visits, and ongoing backup to support youth activists in their communities; and an intensive, youth-led camp called Seeds of Fire that gathers 20-25 young activists and provides them with peer-based training and experiences that open up the concepts of youth power, critical thinking about organizing, and ownership of their own projects and organizations.


The Center for Teen Empowerment (Boston, MA) - The mission of the Center for Teen Empowerment is to realize the potential of inner-city youth to build healthier and safer communities and schools. Teen Empowerment hires and trains urban youth, including at risk youth, to be community organizers. Our programs are based on the belief that urban youth represent a valuable, untapped resource and can significantly contribute to the rejuvenation of neighborhoods and local institutions.


Seattle Young People's Project (Seattle, WA) - Seattle Young People's Project is a youth-led youth empowerment organization set up to provide young people with a voice to effect social change.


Youth Struggling for Survival (Chicago, IL) - YSS is a youth-driven and youth-directed social action group that aims to bring youth together along their common interest, and to help divert often violent energies toward self empowerment, social change, and unity."

Just Act! for Human Rights (Washington, DC) - Changing young people's lives by helping them develop the leadership and vision necessary to advocate for meaningful change in their communities.


Youth Speaks (San Francisco, CA) - Building and nurturing the next generation of leaders through the written and spoken word.  Our innovative programs nurture and develop the youth voice and promote positive social dialogue across boundaries of age, race, class, gender, culture, and sexual orientation.  Throughout each facet of the organization, Youth Speak encourages active literacy, honest writing, and critical thought.


Mobilizing America's Youth (Berkley, CA) - An all-partisan network dedicated to educating, empowering, and energizing young people to increase our civic engagement and political participation.


Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice  Founded in 1994, YMPJ works in the Bronx River, Bruckner and Soundview neighborhoods in the South Bronx. YMPJ is a center for urban ministry dedicated to fostering peace and justice through youth and community organization and development.



Collections of Youth Activism Examples


Youth Action Net The stories of young people from around the world who are fighting for social justice, opportunity, and equality in their cities and nations, and globally.

What Kids Can Do This popular website features voices and work from the next generation in news stories from across the US, highlighting the ability of students to plan, deliver, and learn from serving their communities. Includes an extensive link collection and online publications.


Youth Activist Project Youth advocate Wendy Lesko has collected dozens of success stories from youth activists across the nation. The stories focus on dozens of different issues. Examples of powerful youth activism from around the world, particularly focused on anti-globalization and racism.


TakingITGlobal TakingITGlobal (TIG) is an international organization, led by youth, empowered by technology. TIG brings together young people in more than 190 countries within international networks to collaborate on concrete projects addressing global problems and creating positive change.


Idealist - Organizations Started by Kids & Teens Organizations around the world that were started and are run by young people.






Freechild Reading List on Social Change


Freechild Reading List on Tools for Youth Activism



Other Resources for Youth Activists


The Rosenberg Fund for Children Established to provide for the educational and emotional needs of children whose parents have suffered because of their progressive activities and who, therefore are no longer able to provide fully for their children. The RFC also provides grants for the educational and emotional needs of targeted activist youth.


Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing Foundations that specifically support youth activism, particularly focusing on the U.S.


The Freechild Project Funds for Youth Activism page (Website) - Includes grants specifically for young people (12-30) engaging in activist work, as well as a useful listing of foundations renowned for their support of youth activists.


The Freechild Project Resources for the Hands, the Heart, and the Soul (Website) - This page has resources about community-oriented organizations and media that promotes social justice throughout the world.


Democracy Now Democracy Now! is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 450 stations in North America. It is excellent, with host Amy Goodman providing a powerful, insightful and just perspective on the news. DN frequently covers social justice, globalization and even youth activist news.


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