The Research Collaborative on Youth Activism (RCYA) is motivated by the need for research, education, and youth development to address several pressing and problematic issues that young people face. The Collaborative strengthens networks for youth activists and provides opportunities for exchanging progressive ideas, strategies, and resources that support and expand youth activism efforts.
The RCYA is composed of five research teams, each of which engages youth and adults in participatory action research projects directed at solving a local community issue. The RCYA employs youth participatory action research (YPAR) as the primary strategy to inform and shape more effective policies for young people. YPAR is defined as a research methodology in which young people study their own social contexts to understand how to improve conditions and bring about greater equity. Young people in YPAR projects employ a variety of creative methods for documentation, including observations, interviews, surveys and questionnaires, photos, videography, poetry, public dialogues, and digital technologies. Through this participatory methodology, young people become researchers and garner knowledge about how to change local community problems through more effective public policy.
Using a racial justice framework, the work of the RCYA focuses on how the intersection of race and youth relegate young people to Jim Crow-like status in the United States, leaving them little power with which to influence the laws that shape their lives. The RCYA teams study key questions and disseminate information that will provide youth activists, policymakers with strategies for improving local organizing efforts.