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LAWG Week: Centering Youth by Claire Dunlap
American Evaluation Association (AEA) American Evaluation Association (AEA)
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Washington , DC
Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Claire Dunlap
Claire Dunlap
My name is Claire Dunlap. I serve on the Minnesota Evaluation Association (MNEA) board as program co-chair and work at Youthprise as director of organizational effectiveness. I’m here to share how and why we engage youth in our processes and decisions at Youthprise, and it starts with our mission.
Youthprise’s mission is to increase equity with and for Minnesota’s indigenous, low-income, and racially diverse youth. We envision a Minnesota where outcomes for youth are no longer predictable by race, geography, and social economic status. Youthprise strives to center youth in all of its work.
For us, centering youth looks like people between the ages of 16-25 serving on our board and staff, and leading and co-leading philanthropic giving, research, evaluation, communications, and trainings. Our 20-member board of directors is made up of 50% youth, and operates using a youth-adult co-chair model, meaning the board and its four committees are each co-chaired by a youth and adult.
In 2017, Youthprise elevated its focus on youth-centered evaluation. We worked with students at the University of Minnesota to recreate our theory of change and corresponding logic model. We brought it to stakeholders (of which, about 50% were young people) to make further revisions. Since then, we have hired two strategy and impact youth fellows focused solely on evaluation efforts, Ladan Ghedi and Simone Woods. Together, we are implementing three strategies to improve how we measure impact: revising our grantee report to be aligned with our logic model, conducting grantee interviews to add narrative, and issuing a State of MN Youth report to show growth and gaps for Minnesota youth.
Our next step is to bring youth-led evaluation to the program level at Youthprise; we look forward to sharing this work in the near future!

Hot Tips:
  • Center the people who are most impacted in the processes and decisions!
  • Strive to understand the systems of power that give certain folks privilege while marginalizing others (white supremacy, patriarchy, ageism, etc.)
  • Always check your privileges (act!):
    1. Mind the space you take up
    2. Uplift folks who are marginalized by the very systems that give you privilege
    3. Change laws and policies that sustain systems of power
    4. Organize to abolish systems of power
***These were created by youth on the YPAR team! (See: Rad Resources)
  • When you can’t act, advocate!
Lessons Learned:
  • Don’t tokenize young people [sub: your audience] – this will have a negative effect.
  • Pay for young people’s [your audience’s] time and knowledge!
  • Centering youth [your audience] will take longer – BUT it will also yield better results!
  • Only commit to what you can do well – say no when saying yes will further harm youth [your audience].
Rad Resources:
Hot Tip for visitors to Minneapolis for Evaluation 2019:
If you are looking for an evening fun activity, some of our local gems include mini-golfing at Can Can Wonderland, bowling at Memory Lanes, or taking in some of our local sounds and internationally recognized music artists at the world famous night club First Avenue.
We’re looking forward to the fall and the Evaluation 2019 conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.

About AEA

The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association and the largest in its field. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products and organizations to improve their effectiveness. AEA’s mission is to improve evaluation practices and methods worldwide, to increase evaluation use, promote evaluation as a profession and support the contribution of evaluation to the generation of theory and knowledge about effective human action. For more information about AEA, visit www.eval.org.

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