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Hill Day

1:45 – 3:00 pm | Policy + Practice Track

Speakers: Covenant House International & MDRC | David B. Howard, MSW, Ph.D., Regina Holden Jennings, Niko Leiva, + youth presenter

Covenant House International and MDRC are collaborating on a research project that uses participatory methods to center the experiences and needs of young people facing homelessness as they navigate the labor market. The research team recruited youth to work as Research Fellows to shape research questions. In addition to providing valuable input along with various steps of the project, the Fellows learned about research, survey design, interview protocols, and more.

Youth empowerment strategies can allow young people to meaningfully participate in organizational leadership and program design – and can also play a critical role in research and evaluation. A participatory research process not only helps strengthen the overall research design and lend legitimacy to findings but also can empower and lend voice to the people involved by giving them the opportunity to build a valuable and transferable skillset in social science research design and execution. Our session seeks to highlight the importance of participatory processes, describe the approach that we adopted, and allow members of the research team – including young people – to describe key lessons learned challenges, and successes. Our aim is to encourage other youth-serving organizations to adopt similar approaches and illustrate an effective model that can be used in both formal research endeavors as well as internal research and evaluation practices.

Attendees will:

  1. Gain a better understanding of the value and importance of participatory research processes and including youth voice in research design.
  2. Learn about effective practices for recruitment, youth engagement, and skill-building within a participatory research project.
  3. Be able to articulate organizational learning goals that could benefit from incorporating participatory strategies in their own research and/or program evaluation work.