Supporting Youth Through Transitions

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In youth led social change work, adult allies wear many hats. They are often administrators, secretaries, and advocates. But they’re also more than that. Mentors sometimes step in and open doors that ensure that young people have as many opportunities available to them.

They also support young people personally through tough transitions.

Toni, a youth board member at Youth as Resources in Baltimore, Md., explains how adults supported her in transition.

Often pipelines are created for former high school organizers to continue to within their organization and giving them opportunities to develop new skills sets and grow in the fields of youth development and community change.

Crystal, former Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) member and current supervisor, talks about her experience returning to BSAC.

“I think over the years,..., the majority of the staff that typically worked at Urban Underground were staff that were in Urban Underground,” Sharlen co-founder of Urban Underground  reflects, “So there was a pipeline with Public Allies which is an AmeriCorps program for young people that didn't want to go to school right away, or that wanted an opportunity to get an education award to go into the school the following year. Public Allies was a great synergy for young people who have graduated from high school.”

Even once a youth organizer has left an organization or the program, adult allies still support them. Just as the young people dedicated time to the work or the organization, their mentors dedicated time to making sure that they grew as leaders. Sometimes adult allies help young people turn big ideas into new realities.

Imani, a former program participant at Urban Underground in Milwaukee, Wisc., started a business “Natural E Beautiful” with the support of her mentor.  “She believed in me. She believed in the brand before I did. She believed in the ideas that I had right off the bat,” Imani said, “she would call ‘What do you need? How can I support you?’. She was the first person to buy a huge order of shirts and pass them out to the young people here at Urban Underground. There was just constant support since day one when I shared my idea.”

And DeAndrea, former program participant at Youth Empowered Solutions in Charlotte, N.C., talks about the role her mentor played in helping start up her nonprofit.

That’s just the thing about this work; no matter where youth organizers end up their mentors will always be there to guide and support them.

by Becca Folkes-Lallo