YouthPower-created videos:

YouthPower, St. Paul Youth Services' youth-led organizing hub

Kids changing systems
vs. systems changing kids

St. Paul Youth Services’ YouthPower Program offers an organizing hub where youth of color can gather, reflect, express themselves, build skills, organize, and advocate for serious change on issues that affect their lives.

The program was initiated as a pilot program in the summer of 2017 for Black boys and Black young men. Programming for Black girls and Black young women was added during the 2017-2018 school year.

Since that time, the youth involved in our program have achieved remarkable goals, including the creation of a YouthPowered space; a strengthened sense of identity, culture, and community; creative and critical thinking through powerful storytelling vehicles; and a youth train-the-trainer and community building model. Our youth have also advocated to elected officials and other decision-makers on youth-designed policy changes impacting their lives. 

Our motto is: Kids Are Changing Systems vs. Systems Changing Kids. We believe that it is THE most promising and proportionate approach to dismantling systemic racism, but that by engaging youth in shaping and promoting solutions is a largely untested yet effective and strategic approach to change.

Goals for the program:

• Immediate and long-term improvement in how Black youth are treated at and experience school

• Broader awareness -- not just of educational inequities -- but of solutions identified, prioritized, and designed by Black students themselves

• Engagement of Black youth throughout the systemic change process and compensation for their effort, leadership, and creative and intellectual capital

• Use of multiple strategies for achieving systemic change so participating youth gain first-hand exposure with multiple community problem-solving approaches

• Demonstration of a pioneering and sustainable model for community change (YouthPower) to dismantle systemic racism and white supremacy and create educational equity


In THE YOUTH's own words...

YouthPower centers youth and young black men to let our voices be heard. It’s important because we are not heard and are considered less than when that is not the case.
YouthPower is great because it teaches young men about their culture and the American challenges we have to face.
YouthPower is a program that focuses on the youth and our needs and it’s important because not a lot of programs are built for African American youth.
YouthPower is a safe place for African American boys to talk about and fix problems in the community. We give our input on the community through the youth lens to adults. It will lead to policy changes for the better.