“Amplifying Youth Voice and Engagement in Policymaking”
From the AYPF E-Bulletin, January 2022
(Funded by the American Institutes for Research)
With the belief that those closest to the problem have a unique understanding of solutions, AYPF is partnering with young people to provide insights from their lived expertise to help shape policies and programs that directly impact their lives. For lawmakers to create policies that reflect the strengths and realities of our young people and achieve positive outcomes—especially including the goals they have for themselves and their communities—their voice must be at the center of the policymaking process.
The young people who serve as Youth Policy Consultants to AYPF have an array of lived experiences such as being young people of color, involvement in the child welfare or youth legal system, having lacked a safe place to live, and much more. Their unique perspectives help widen our understanding and impact on various policy issues facing young people marginalized by systemic inequities.
A significant aspect of the Youth Policy Consultants’ work these past few months has been in partnership with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) Equity Initiative. They meet regularly with AIR staff to discuss education equity, hurdles to employment, much-needed police reforms, and other pressing issues that impact youth. In these meetings, AYPF Youth Policy Consultants share what effects these issues have on their lives and propose and analyze compelling solutions.
Additionally, Youth Policy Consultants assisted in drafting the Educational Equity Through Policy Implementation request for proposals and reviewed letters of inquiry from potential grantees. And they will continue to do similar work on future grants.
Youth Policy Consultants have taken a particularly strong interest in the work of credible messengers. Credible messengers are mentors who have similar lived experiences as the youth with whom they work. While the term “credible messengers” has been used mainly in the youth legal system, AYPF Youth Policy Consultants are interested in expanding the implementation of credible messengers in other settings, such as the child welfare system, K-12 education, and colleges.
Therefore, in partnership with AIR, the Youth Policy Consultants are working on a podcast series focused on expanding the credible messengers model and exploring relevant research, which will be released in 2022.
“AIR’s partnership with the AYPF Youth Policy Consultants better aligns us with our aspirations to embed the perspectives of young people—and especially those directly impacted by the areas of work we pursue—in our daily thinking and work. It is essential, not optional. Our ongoing work together has caused us to shift our ideas and take greater care with our language. I am confident that the research and evidence use supported by the AIR Equity Initiative will be more useful because of the insights offered by the AYPF Youth Policy Consultants.”
–Dr. Kim DuMont, Vice President and Managing Director of the AIR Equity Initiative
AYPF will use its expertise, skills, and connections to more squarely elevate the voices of young people to inform federal and national policy. In the coming year, AYPF will provide opportunities for policymakers from both sides of the aisle to hear directly from the young people most impacted by the policies they are working to develop and improve. The lived experience of young people will be the North Star for these discussions and create a shared understanding among policymakers.
This approach will drive policies to be more equitable by ensuring that marginalized youth are heard and valued for their expertise and providing them more opportunities to positively impact their communities. AYPF looks forward to growing our collaboration with the Youth Policy Consultants through our project with AIR and other organizations.
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