Supporting Youth Leadership for Change

Innovations series number 6

Intentions of this website

This (continually evolving) resource is intended to serve two primary purposes:

  • To inform potential Coady youth participants and partners about the work we do, and
  • to provide information that may prove helpful to others who are also working to support youth leadership for social change.

The first phase of development will primarily consist of populating the site with the information, methods and practices currently used in Coady youth leadership programming. Subsequent phases will use these details to attempt to create a holistic framework that can be utilized by those supporting youth leadership for change to optimize their work.

We hope that you find this site useful, and look forward to any feedback you may care to offer. Thanks for visiting!

Supporting Youth Leadership for Change

Today, more than half of the world’s population is under the age of 30. In community development and social change work, and in society more broadly, there are increasing numbers advocating for the meaningful participation of youth and for young people’s voices to be heard. In many instances however, this sentiment seems to come either from a place of charity (to incorporate the voices of marginalized populations) and/or from a desire to ‘mentor tomorrow’s leaders’ – seeing young people as ‘having future potential’ rather than as being able to offer meaningful, important and unique contributions in the present. However, events around the world throughout history demonstrate that young people are at the heart of social justice and social change, and that young people are disproportionately represented at the leading edge of these movements. They form the core of those addressing today’s great strategic opportunities and challenges, from rebuilding the global economy to combating violent extremism to building a sustainable environment.

There are many individuals and organizations around the world striving to enhance the capacity of young leaders and enable them to optimize their potential to realize their visions for a more equitable future. With so many leadership development programs, trainings and workshops available for young leaders, this website was developed from the idea that it may be helpful to identify some of the fundamental elements involved in Coady youth leadership programs that, in combination, make these programs somewhat unique. Further, utilizing and building upon these foundational and underpinning philosophies that inform Coady youth leadership learning opportunities, some specific examples of program practices, principles and methods are offered that have established the conditions for many participants in these programs to experience some form of personal transformation. And along the way, some of the frameworks and models that support or inform this work will be introduced and referred to.


Underpinning Philosophies

Before starting curriculum design and development, it is important to be aware of the values, principles and philosophies that will be brought to the work and that should inform and underpin every aspect of the participants’ learning experience. Read more

Program Practices, Principles and Methods

Our observations and experience have shown that through employing certain practices, principles and methods, we are able to establish the conditions for many participants in our programs to experience some form of personal transformation. Read more

Frameworks and Models that Support/Inform our work

There are many moving parts within a Coady youth leadership educational program. Over the years, content and methodology has been borrowed from a broad spectrum of sources and combined in various ways to produce the offerings currently available. Read more

Descriptions of Coady Youth Leadership Programs

In addition to ongoing research and dissemination of knowledge in this field, and in line with the Coady Youth Strategy 2019-24, we have in recent years offered the following educational programs Read more


Here you will find the resources referred to throughout the website, and some further reading. Read more

Coady Youth Strategy

Coady Institute recognizes both the need for and the capacity of youth leaders to play a pivotal role in community change. We are dedicated to providing a diversity of experiential leadership education opportunities, and meaningful contributions to knowledge development in this field, to support the aspirations of young leaders for social change and those who work with them around the world. Read more


It is important to note that the views expressed within this website are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the broader institutional perspective of Coady International Institute. Additionally, this website is intended to be a continually evolving entity, with regular updates and revisions. If you as a reader have any thoughts, concerns, questions or ideas you would like to share about anything contained herein, please send an email to Your input will help to further develop this as a useful resource for those who work to optimize youth leadership for social change.

The Coady International Institute’s Innovation series, launched in 2015, showcases the work of Coady faculty, associates, and partners. Acting as a bridge between academic and practitioner worlds, the Coady Institute contributes new ideas, new ways of putting ideas into practice and innovative ways of creating transformative experiences in our educational programs. The publications in this series are colour coded to identify these three aspects of innovation using the “Coady colours” : blue for “innovative thinking”, green for “innovative practice” and orange for “innovative teaching”.