Youth Organizing

Laidlaw Learning: Youth-Led Community Organizing

In analyzing data from funded initiatives there emerged significant insights into the underlying values of youth-led community organizing, youth organizing strategies and tools and implications for funding practices. This series of reports share the Foundation’s learning with the broader community.


Strategies and Tools
Youth-led community organizing builds on the lived experiences of young people and communities to develop and implement interventions, strategies and initiatives that work to improve and transform communities, institutions and social systems. It is a process that nurtures personal growth and fosters broader community transformation. Throughout Laidlaw Foundation evaluation interviews, stakeholders described strategies they use in their work. This report shares candid reflections straight from the experiences of other young people, allies and community partners involved in youth organizing work in Toronto.
Values Driven Work
This report outlines youth-led community organizing practices and builds on insights that youth organizers and their partners shared that illuminate values underlying this work. This is a reflective exercise to stimulate broader sector dialogue around the values that we embody as individuals and that are inherent in our work.
Impacts & Challenges

Youth Organizing endeavours to break down traditional hierarchical power structures by subverting the position of leader, understanding that the leader is also a participant and that every participant is also a leader. In youth-led groups, participants have the power and potential to share their knowledge. The creation of safe spaces in Youth Organizing dismantles the divisions between leader and participant to address the individual needs of the community group. It is through this holistic approach to organizing and structuring advocacy that youth-led models make a distinct and meaningful contribution to social change. Youth Organizing, however, is not without its challenges. Many youth who are engaged in this type of work face real obstacles such as homelessness, violence, mental health issues, personal pain, and social trauma. The following document highlights the challenges and impacts of Youth Organizing through the voices of many Youth Organizing leaders and participants.