Youth development experts, public officials and policy makers know that investing in young people yields generous results for society as a whole. Yet, while the advent of positive youth development has helped spur private and public investment in the development of young people and recognition of youth as assets to their communities, there has not been adequate investment in, and recognition of the leadership of youth of color in low-income urban and rural communities. Furthermore, attending only to the personal development needs of young people can not ensure their healthy development if the communities, public institutions, policies and practices that shape their lives are not supportive of that development. We believe that, in order to allow young people of color from lower income backgrounds to develop as healthy, productive, and engaged members of society, youth development initiatives must also focus on changing public policies, systems and institutions affecting their development. Furthermore, for these changes to be most relevant and effective for young people, the youth themselves need to be at the forefront of these initiatives. Guided by these beliefs, the focus of Hazen's youth development funding during 2005-2009 will be on Youth Organizing. Our grantmaking of the past ten years shows that youth organizing offers middle and high school-age youth in low income communities analytical frameworks, social vehicles and opportunities to become involved in community life, and to develop and use their voice, talents, and power creatively to change public institutions, policies, and social conditions affecting their lives.
By focusing on Youth Organizing as a strategy for youth development and social change, the Foundation seeks to achieve the following goal:
To contribute to the development of young people as leaders for social change so that they can help create policies, social systems, and public institutions that are supportive, responsible, and accountable to youth and their communities.
In pursuit of this goal, during 2005-2014, the Foundation will work to:
• Build stronger, more sustainable, youth organizing groups capable of increasing and supporting the effective engagement of middle and high school youth - youth of color and low income youth in particular - in organizing efforts focused on issues of concern to young people and their communities;
• Create stronger linkages amongst youth organizers, youth leaders, and youth organizing groups, locally, regionally, and nationally, to promote joint reflection and strategizing around key issues that results in greater collaboration and coalition-building;
• Increase the financial resources available to youth organizing groups - particularly from local and regional sources - to expand the scope, scale and impact of their work, and to sustain the field of youth organizing over the long-term;
• Raise the visibility and legitimacy of Youth Organizing as a viable, necessary, and complementary strategy for youth development and social change.
For more info. see the Grant Guidelines.