Youth Engagement as Board Directors

The Freechild Institute Youth Involvement Toolkit

Healthy nonprofit organizations and government agencies consider their entire communities or populations when they are determining organizational leadership and stewards. Engaging youth as board directors can ensure relevance to the people being served and healthy relationships between young people and adults.

Ways Youth Engagement as Board Directors Happens

Youth on Boards — When young people serve as regular members of boards, they can raise issues, vote, advocate and critique the policies, processes, programs and any other part of an organization the board is responsible for.

Youth School Directors — As those most directly affected by school board decision-making, young people can serve as full members of boards of education. As school directors and school trustees, students add current, real time data, energy and much more.

Youth as Advocates — When adults won’t make room for youth as full members, young people can advocate in public organizations and entities, including public nonprofits, community groups, government agencies and other places.

Needs for Youth Engagement as Board Directors

Opportunities — In adult-led youth-serving organizations, young people may feel alien to the decisions that affect them most. They need real opportunities to participate fully as board directors without being manipulated or tokenized.

Education — Learning about nonprofit boards, policymaking, advocacy and organizational leadership is essential for youth on boards. Aside from training on the skills necessary for action, young people also can learn about the issues, activities and outcomes of their boards and organizations, too.

Inspiration — Children and youth aren’t regularly involved in the decisions that affect them most. In order to get a sense of the democratic possibilities in society, they may need inspiration and motivation to take action. Whether stories of their peers, stories in history or otherwise, children and youth can be moved to action.

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Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how Freechild Institute can assist youth on boards in your community or organization, contact us.

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