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Revery Barnes and Kaira Espinoza of Rising Youth for Social Equity share the results of their youth-run organization serving as the youth evaluation team on a project to reform San Francisco’s juvenile justice system.

In 1997, Delancy Street Foundation developed a comprehensive action plan to reform San Francisco’s juvenile justice system. In response, Rising Youth for Social Equity (RYSE), a youth-run organization, wrote a policy recommendation advocating for youth participation in developing and evaluting the plan’s programs. RYSE staff served as the youth evaluation team on this project.

One weakness of many programs designed for young people is that youth themselves are rarely involved in project creation and implementation. While projects often use the language of partnership, collaboration, and ownership, such rhetoric often masks unequal power relationships. Participation by young people is generally limited to single events, after which they become the subjects of interventions planned, implemented, and evaluated by others. Adults, particularly those working within institutions such as schools and law enforcement, are often unaware of the ways in which power shapes their relationships with young people. In contrast, young people are often acutely aware of their own powerlessness.

The goal of our project was to include youth voice in the restructuring of San Francisco’s juvenile justice system. We saw this as an opportunity for adults to learn what youth thought about the issues in our communities and lives. We knew we had valuable information to share, and this was our chance to be taken seriously.

We went through a one-year process to design and conduct our evaluation. First, we had to gather youth to form the Youth Evaluation Team. Twelve youth evaluators were selected by a youth-led hiring committee to carry out these important tasks. Those of us chosen to be evaluators went through training, discussions, and meetings with supportive adult mentors to learn the necessary skills to organize our project. Creating the survey, testing it, and collecting data were probably the most time consuming tasks. We created a database, and then professors at the University of California at Berkeley transferred our data into statistical software (SPSS). We then analyzed the results, researched background information, and put together our report.

Our final step will be to present this information to the Delancy Street Foundation. We will also distribute our report to people interested in making this society more youth friendly. Ultimately, we will let policymakers know what youth are concerned about so they will make more informed decisions that truly fulfill our needs.



Hart, R. (1997). Children’s participation: The theory and practice of involving young citizens in community development and environmental care. New York: Earthscan.


Center for Young Women’s Development
965 Mission Street, Suite 450
San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: 415-487-8662
The Center for Young Women’s Development is an organization by and for young women involved in the street economy. The Center uses evaluation as an internal tool and as a tool for monitoring services for young women in San Francisco.

Center for Youth Development
Youth Mapping Project
1825 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
Tel: 202-884-8000
The Center for Youth Development provides training and facilitation in community mapping.

Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth
Youth Making a Change (YMAC)
459 Vienna Street
San Francisco, CA 94112
Tel: 415-239-0161
The Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth is a youth advocacy organization that uses evaluation as an advocacy tool for youth issues in San Francisco.

Community LORE
2017 Mission Street, Suite 302
San Francisco, CA 94110
Tel: 415-621-1402
Community LORE provides Youth Empowerment Evaluation curricula, training, and coaching to youth-serving organizations and schools. It has published a Youth Empowerment Evaluation curriculum guide for youth leaders and adult educators. It also publishes a newsletter with articles, activities, and resources.

Community Network for Youth Development
657 Mission Street, Suite 410
San Francisco, CA 94105
Tel: 415-495-0622
This organization provides training, coaching and network development around youth development.

Girls Best Friend Foundation
900 North Franklin, Suite 608
Chicago, IL 60610
Tel: 312-266-2842
Girls Best Friend Foundation publishes“Mapping a Path to Evaluation,” an evaluation guide for staff in organizations that work with girls.

Rising Youth for Social Equity
2068 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Tel: 415-863-1100
Rising Youth for Social Equity is a youth-run organization that provides training in youth leadership, popular education, and youth involvement in reforming juvenile justice systems.

St. John’s Educational Thresholds Center
3040 - 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94013
Tel: 415-864-5205
St. John’s Educational Thresholds Center has published a workbook for elementary and middle school youth in evaluation.


Revery Barnes

Kaira Espinoza
Community Building Director
Rising Youth for Social Equity

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