Our Effective Youth Group

Grade Level: 
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Team Building
In this activity, the group discusses what makes a strong youth council. The team determines what is important to them and their mission. They brainstorm ways to overcome barriers.

Whether youth are forming a new group or solidifying what is important to an existing group, it is valuable to discuss what brings the group together and the traits that make the work effective. 

Defining the Ideal:

The group leader begins by stating the main purpose for the group, such as, "The reason we are here together is to make an impact on youth in our community through grantmaking."

Ask the youth to reflect quietly and then in pairs on this question: What do you think are the qualities or behaviors that make up a strong and effective team (or grantmaking group)?

After several minutes of discussion in pairs, bring the group together and brainstorm their ideas on a chart. Here are some things other youth have come up with:

  • Work together 
  • Honor our values
  • Stick to our mission 
  • Respect differing opinions 
  • Practice stepping up or back
  • Active participation 
  • Procedures are clear
  • Have tools for decision making  
  • Delegate to committees 
  • Participants are committed and show up 
  • Expectations are clear
  • Made up of diverse (in various ways) people and perspectives 


It may be helpful to put these in priority order or group them. One method is to have the youth step up to the chart and put a checkmark by the three that are most important to them. After everyone has indicated what they value, list them in order of number of checkmarks.

The group may discuss whether their list falls into natural categories. They may also find they can combine or make their list more concise. 

Overcoming Barriers:

Ask the group to brainstorm things that might get in the way of the work they want to do together. Their ideas may come from experience, or the leader may suggest some categories to start their discussion and ask them to give examples of specific barriers.

Example categories:

  • structures like time, transportation, or money (can't find a good meeting time)
  • adult expectations/attitudes about youth (same youth are involved)
  • youth skills/attitudes about their role (limited voice or experience)

Split the group into small teams of 2-3 people to each discuss how to address one of the identified barriers. Give them time to discuss and get ready to share their ideas with the whole group.


  • What are some ways to respond to barriers that come up?
  • Which of their ideas would they like to try? 
  • What other skills or resources are needed, and how do they acquire them?