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YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN EVALUATION AND RESEARCH: Urban Youth Building Community: Social Change and Participatory Research in Schools, Homes, and Community-Based Organizations

Increasingly scholars and policy makers are paying attention to the role of meaningful youth participation (O’Donoghue et al., 2002; McLaughlin et al., 1994), youth civic engagement (Youniss et al., 1997, 2002), and marginalized youth of color organizing for social justice (Ginwright & James, 2002; Ginwright & Cammarota, 2002). Our recent experiences as adult allies in efforts to engage youth in social change have helped confirm our long-held beliefs that “urban” youth-a euphemism for underserved, poor, marginalized, ethnic minority youth-can be important actors in shaping their schools and communities.1 Despite a dominant discourse that frames urban youth as disengaged or troubled, our experiences suggest that these youth, if given the opportunity, can become competent citizens (Checkoway et al., 2003), active participants, and powerful agents of social change.