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 Young People Can Change the World as Board Directors
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.
Things Young People Need to Change the World 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.
- “Involving youth on boards with elected officials: Core elements of program design” by Jessica Collura and Shepherd Zeldin
- “Students on School Boards Toolbox” by Adam Fletcher for SoundOut
- “Section 8. Including Youth on Your Board, Commission, or Committee” in the Community Tool Box by the University of Kansas
- Youth On Board
- “Youth Board Members: Can minors serve on a nonprofit board?” by Emily Chan on the Nonprofit Law Blog
- “Helpful tips to involve youth on community boards” by Bethany Prykicki for Michigan State University Extension
- “How to engage with youth on boards and commissions” by Seren Pendleton-Knoll
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can assist youth on boards in your community or organization, contact us.