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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Youth Activism Project

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Civil Rights, Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy, International, Promotion of International Understanding, Youth Development Programs

Mission: We spark teen activists and support them in becoming leaders that drive sustained local and global impact. We envision a world where all young people can participate fully at all levels of decision-making.

Results: We have activated over 1000 teens, who pushed for 32 policy changes at the local, state, federal and international levels; mobilized over 4,500, and raised over $70,000 for various causes. 93% of our participants believe the Youth Activism Project helped them contribute to real social and political change as a young person. 86% identified as an activist after our program. And 58% discovered what they want to study in college due to our program.

Target demographics: teens lead advocacy campaigns

Direct beneficiaries per year: 120 students

Geographic areas served: the United States

Programs: online advocacy, leadership, and communication trainings, networking between teen activists across the country, mentorship from adults

Community Stories

32 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Emily W.5

Client Served

Rating: 5

As young activist, it can often times ben hard to find resources. Being mentored by the Youth Activism Project was a huge help and I truly believe I have become a stronger activist because of this organization. My organization, Sophrosyne Mental Health, organized a mental health rally on the Boston Common and it was filmed by Brave New Films, and we would not have had the success we did without their assistance. Thank you for your help, Youth Activism Project!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Youth Activism Project does really important work for creating young change-makers in the United States. I had the opportunity to volunteer in the creation of their YOUth ACTivism Guide to Change and I was very impressed with the teens and their leadership. I'm hoping one day to bring something like the Youth Activism Project to Nicaragua, my home country!

1 Iris Z.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Youth Activism Project has helped me with my activism and taught me alot especially about oppression and privilege. Their programs are very empowering and helpful and they are always there to help you.

Donor

Rating: 5



I am a proud donor to this incredible organization that helped my two daughters become the leaders they are today. Every child interested in activism should get involved with the Youth Activism Project, I cannot recommend this organization enough.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As someone who's been involved in activism since I was a teen, I was eager to get started as an Adult Ally with the Youth Activism Project. Their process to train allies is really well though-out and focuses on allies developing a truly collaborative relationship with teens. This isn't about what solutions adults think teens should do; they push us to listen and challenge teens to come up with their own solutions that work best in their communities. Furthermore, the Youth Activism Project's "Guide to Change" provides a clear and easy-to-follow framework to help teens develop an effective project and for allies to keep things on track. It was a good refresher on not only how to build an activist project from scratch but also, more importantly, how to keep it going. Moreover, I cannot say enough good things about their leadership team. Wendy, Anika, and Anna all have unique stories and perspectives on activism, and constantly push me to be a better a ally. Finally, I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be paired with an amazing group of teens that inspires me every day. What the Youth Activism Project does is ground breaking work and needs more support to get it out there!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization helped me give my activism structure and direction!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Youth Activism Project is a phenomenal initiative. As a mother of a motivated son who had an idea but didn’t know how to get started, Anika and her team have put together a real step-based program that develops the leadership and activism potential in youth. It is also not only a self-paced program with materials but provides toolkits, workshops for the youth, and a lot of advice along the way!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Youth Activism Project has given me the voice that I assumed didn't even matter. It is teaching me not only the importance behind advocating, but exactly how to use the things I am passionate about to help others. I am given the opportunity to share my story, improve my writing, and receive support and knowledge all throughout the process! To be presented with such resources has truly given me a purpose in my pain.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Have you ever had an experience in one moment in your life where you just know that experience will somehow change the course of your life forever and will always be engrave in your life? Well, that was Youth Activism Project. It was one of the best experiences in my 16 years of life, through Youth Activism Project I had the opportunity to fully develop my strong passion of using my youth and my voice as a way to create change. I came in contact with Youth Activism Project in freshmen year. I wanted to be part of a club that promote girls education especially in developing countries, and that is how I came across School Girls United (part of Youth Activism Project). Through this club I had the ability to impact several girls in a sister club in Mali, the club help me became a better leader and better person. In sophomore year, I became part of another Youth Activism Project club. Through, this club I had the chance to advocate for various issues, especially for stricter guns control laws. Couple club members and I went testifying in Annapolis against a bill for teacher having access to guns and reducing the number of hour of gun training. This experience was thrilling, we had the opportunity to learn the process of testifying. We had the chance to meet several lawmakers and people with compelling life stories. I would never forget all those experiences and it wouldn’t have happened without Youth Activism Project. So thank you Youth Activism Project for changing my life for the better and many others.


1

Advisor

Rating: 5

The Youth Activism Project has been a supporter of our Howard County G/T Program's School Girls Unite/ Global Equality Now chapters. Through this support, students have learned advocacy skills that have empowered them to develop their own campaigns to address access to education for girls around the world. These youth-led campaigns have included movie and discussion nights to raise awareness, postcard campaigns to support legislation, and book study groups to educate peers, among others.
As a teacher, I have benefitted greatly from learning strategies for being an effective ally and supporter of my students.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been privileged to follow Youth Activism Project for a little more than 13 years. This non-profit organization is being led and served by a group of dedicated individuals whom I believe have a deep commitment towards social equality and justice. From pure fund-raising to raising awareness to critical socio-political issues facing the youth of our society, and identifying and training future leaders, they have done it all (and prepared to do more). They are audacious, progressive, inventive and very much ready to be at the forefront of “The Change” that we are yearning for! I have tracked a few of their initiatives/projects for the last few years, and seeing the results have renewed my faith on the next generation. Our “Blue Planet” will be in good hands if organizations like YAP are provided all the material and financial support that is required to run a non-profit efficiently and productively. I wish them more success!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a teacher and advisor to School Girls Unite for the past 10 years, the support my students and I have received from the Youth Activism Project has been invaluable. The Youth Activism Project has empowered my students with specific strategies they can use to make their activism goals a reality. One example of this is from 2013, when a School Girls Unite group I was advising from Hammond Middle School in Laurel, Maryland, wrote to President Obama asking him to recognize October 11 as International Day of the Girl. The group soon learned that one letter was not enough, and under the advisement of Wendy Lesko and the Youth Activism Project, my students employed a persuasive campaign of persistence, reaching out to advocates within the White House who would support their request. The students' hard work paid off, and they cheered and cried when they learned of President Obama's signing of the proclamation recognizing the International Day of the Girl in the United States. Many of these students are now in college studying political science, and all of them plan to work in fields promoting social justice, thanks in large part to their experience with the Youth Activism Project. As a teacher, my goal is create opportunities for my students to be agents of change, by providing hands-on real world experiences as change makers. That is why I will continue to use the tools, strategies, and support provided by the Youth Activism Project with my students as long as I am teaching. Youth Activism Project has been instrumental to my students' success!

Donor

Rating: 5

Youth Activism is an inspiring example of the power of youth voice for change. I've followed this organization since 2005 and watched the original pre-teen founders successfully advocate for the social change they believed in, and effect change at a global level with the passage of legislation at state and federal levels. I then watched a second wave of Youth Activism's leaders emerge, who were passionate about creating a movement and expanding their programs to meet more ambitious goals and include more youth leaders. And then the third wave, and fourth wave of Youth Activism leaders each stood up to the challenge of strengthening their mission and refine a model for developing young leaders with real political clout.

Youth Activism's young women and men are not "tomorrow's leaders," they lead now, effect change, and inspire others to do the same. My association with this organization has changed my own career path and interests, and transformed my world view about the vital role of youth in political, social, and economic justice.

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

My students and I have started working with them in April. My students voiced a concern about wanting graduation outside. Anika helped give them the confidence to speak at school board meetings. Thanks to their efforts and feeling confident to setting up meetings with the superintendent and building director they were able to change policy and get the approval of the superintendent. Additionally they were able to get the city council to secure funds to protect the field and have graduation outside on the football field. Additionally, they have helped me work with one of my classes which each group has chosen their own community service project. They came to the school and helped get them started, they have supported them with mostly phone calls, and given them help with researching their topics. They have been invaluable group to me and my students.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been part of Youth Activism Project since I was in middle school, and it taught me SO MUCH! To this day (many, many years later), I feel a pull towards social service and making systemic change, and I think that's so, so important, not only for citizens building a healthy, strong society, but for young people. I learned that as a teenager, I could have an impact on the world. Youth Activism Project gave me something to care about and belong to, which I think is especially important for young people.
Besides the do-good things, I'm also comfortable with writing, public speaking, and taking a stand for things I believe in, and I give all the credit to Youth Activism Project for giving me the experience and tools to become the person I am today.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Youth Activism Project has given, and continues to give, the tools to young people to speak out about topics they feel strongly about. They give the tools and knowledge to educate themselves on policy, attend powerful leadership summits, and create groups with like-minded individuals. They continue to impress us every day. The more people they have the ability to reach out to, the better they will continue to make the world!

2 Danielle J.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Be part of this organization has been positively influential on my life and has allowed me to understand that it's important to be vocal about social injustices. The leadership has been amazing and influential and I was able to grow from the experience throughout my middle school and high school career. This organization has been able to positively impact many lives.

1

Board Member

Rating: 4

YAP does not accept the status quo or the belief that political agency or leadership is confined to the elite or adults. Instead, YAP democratizes political engagement and provides resources and support—from coaches, its Guide to Change, to webinar—to help youth make a difference. Unlike other programs that are focused on localized interventions or grant-funded initiatives targeting youth, YAP enables youth to brainstorm their own plans of action, matches them with allies that have the requisite skills, and then trains adult allies to empower youth to steer the ship, and provides digital resources and check-ins so all youth have access to their services. I’ve been fortunate to be an ally to a team in Washington who have taken the organization’s advice and support and turned it into action, and they have attested to the organization’s impact. The Executive Director's decade+ commitment to the organization since being a teenager only further proves that the organization truly embraces empowering youth. YAP is thoughtful, responsive, and creative, which is even more impressive during this critical time as they continue to pilot new programs and scale resources so youth of all ages around the country (and eventually, the world) have access to the tools to enact political and social change. While the organization will have growing pains as it grows, YAP will certainly handle it with the utmost grace and open mindedness.

2 Seika B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Youth Activism Project has done much more than opening eyes. As a 16 year old girl from a small a town, YAP is able to reach out and make a difference within all of us. They have given me and my friends the opportunity to do things, to get up and make a change. Innovation and Invention is gifted to people by the ones who can enlighten mindsets. Even at 16, I have been guided and encouraged and supported to reach out to talk to my state legislators and assist them in making a change for mental health within my state. The Youth Actvism Project creates an upbringing for so many teens across the nation, from Maryland to Washington State, their impact spreads within communities, counties and states. The willingness and support given to me by the adults who are the makers of YAP has not only given me and my friends an opportunity but my school, district and state the ability to have young voices speak and participate in events that affect every generation. The Youth Activism Project has broaden teens ability to voice social change and work towards it. They teach us dedication and work ethic with something we love doing. They have open arms and welcome new and fresh ideas to the table. Supply assistance but also freedom. They do not dominate but encourage our minds to reach our goals of innovating the world around us. For me, the Youth Activism Project has inspired my school district to take action to support their students more hands on. It made the community realize that it is simple to work towards a goal. YAP is able to open my eyes and the eyes of all my close friends, willing and accepting to any idea. Teaching us skills and assets that will be meaningful regardless in what we are doing. From running a meeting to helping write a bill, YAP is able to fill our aspirations. They push us to strive for the unknown and be happy with that. They are the opportunity that many are waiting for.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Without Youth Activism Project and School Girls Unite, I would not be the person I am today. Working with inspiring and driven people helped me find a voice and feel empowered even at a very young age. This is an amazing organization that will continue to do great things for youths in the US and around the world.

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

The Youth Activism Project rolls up their sleeves and stands by as a resource to so many passionate students who crave a structure where their passion, creativity, and experience is honored. The students have the control of their advocacy direction, and they achieve greatness with that freedom.

I cannot wait for this program to reach California schools. Our country, and the world, is better off because of YAP’s impact.

1 ADen I.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for this organization for a few weeks and I believe they not only truly care about the young people they serve, but are also incredibly impactful. Young people want to be heard. They want to get involved. However, they need to be given opportunity and support to grow into civically engaged adults and leaders. And, that is exactly the mission of Youth Activism Project.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Youth Activism Project is leading the way in youth engagement and is transforming the way students become interested in expressing their civic duty. The organization empowers young people to be heard and provides awesome opportunities for them to explore this with their own autonomy.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Excellent concept and action plan! This project is a lever to greater political awareness and then action on the part of disconnected young adults. Support. Volunteer. Get Involved. This is that idea/concept that you have always wanted.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with Youth Activism Project is truly a blessing for someone interested in creating change, especially young people. I personally have been able to grow as an activist and become more confident in my skills and identification as an activist. The very welcoming and supporting community Youth Activism Project provides is one that really allows you to be yourself and voice your opinions. Everyone’s passions and opinions matter and will be addressed. I was able to learn and gain skills relating to activism in a friendly but professional manner. This is an organization that I truly think is exceptional and one that every young person who is interested in creating change should work with!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Youth Activism Project has heavily supported me in my activism. They are beyond transparent and all relations have been extremely enjoyable. I plan to continue my work with Youth Activism Project for many years to come.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Youth Activism Project has provided me with opportunities never accessible without my involvement with the project. As a two year serving board member of the Youth Activism Project I have been given the role of making important budget, marketing and other crucial decisions for the project. Serving as a board member has given me the opportunity to voice my opinion in a space where youth voice is valued. My experience being an activist with Youth Activism Project has given me leadership and public speaking skills which will I will carry with me through my life as an activist. The Youth Activism Project prioritizes youth driven involvement and has defiantly shaped how I feel about youth involvement and activism.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This nonprofit has done so much to help youth. For example they have provided scholarships to girls who would not otherwise receive an education in Mali, and has lead many youth lobbying initiatives. This organization is critical in building youth involvement in decision-making.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I really enjoyed my experience working with the Youth Activism Project. They were able to help me make a difference and inspire change in the world! I had a lot of creative freedom and am very grateful I was able to work alongside some amazing activists.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Before I got involved with Youth Activism Project, I was very close minded towards social issues occurring in society; my mindset was that "I'm too young to make a difference", "This doesn't involve me". Upon getting involved with Youth Activism Project, Ms.Wendy & Akil Patterson made my colleagues and I aware of how big the sugary drinks epidemic was in general, not only in Prince George's County. Ms.Wendy educated us on the various targeting schemes made on minority children by these big corporations, how to write appealing towards government officials, and even improved our linguistic & public speaking skills. Everything she instilled with came in handy when we went out to different events to support our cause and spread the message. My biggest moment was when I had to give a speech at an American Heart Association forum, in front of people for several different states. It was a nerve-racking experience in the heat of the moment, but as I look back, I am ever-grateful for the experience. It definitely was a positive step in the right direction, and made me who I am today. I believe all youth should be able to get this experience, it is truly life changing.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This experience has been wonderful! I would highly recommend to young people who have time to make these wonderful experiences their own. I thank this organization for sparking self growth in me.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Youth up Health has shaped me as a growing adult. An experience that will stay with me for a life time.