Reducing Barriers for Youth Engagement

Grade Level: 
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Citizenship/Civic Engagement
Problem Solving
Sometimes youth want to engage in community projects or serve in philanthropy, but face barriers that make it difficult to be present. They may need the support of empathetic adults who can provide resources or grace to help them persevere in their engagement.

Competing Demands for Youth Attention

A youth serving on a board or committee may have many competing demands for their time and attention.

  • Some young people are balancing school, a job, and extra-curricular activities.
  • Some youth are giving up time at a part-time job that their family depends on.
  • There may be young people who are the main caregivers at home or who are distracted by hunger, safety, or transportation needs.

You may not know what they are experiencing, so it is important to have grace without making assumptions about someone's lack of interest or commitment. As the adult facilitator, you can listen and build trust to find a path through some barriers.

See the chart below (also printable as PDF below and in the CMF Knowledge Center here) for some common barriers youth may face and potential solutions. This resource from the Forum for Youth Investment highlights How to Pay Young People.