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Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR)

What is YPAR

Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) is one way places serving youth (such as schools, local public health departments, community-based organizations) can engage youth in policies and programs that impact their lives.

YPAR offers a structure for centering youth voice. Rooted in liberation and anti-oppression practices, YPAR switches up who has the power and know-how to produce knowledge and influence change. Youth and adults work as partners to learn research practices so they can work as a team to identify and learn about an issue that impacts their lives, their peers and their communities.

Benefits of YPAR

  • Youth can expand their “real-world’ skills, such as learning to plan and manage projects and conduct research
  • Supports social-emotional learning by building skills in problem-solving, group work, communication, and empathy
  • Strengthens ties to peers and trusted adults

Learn more at YPAR Overview

YPAR in Action: Examples of Youth-led Projects in Oregon

 ​​This webinar provides an overview of Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR). It covers the history of YPAR and how YPAR differs from “traditional research”. It also offers things to consider if you want to ​use YPAR in your organization or community.​​

 YPAR Webinar


With its roots in liberation and anti-oppression practices, and focus on relationships and skill-building, YPAR is a worthy strategy for any youth-serving system, organization, or movement. Below are some things to think about before starting a YPAR project.

  • De​fine the purpose: Clearly name why the program will use YPAR. Will the findings be used to decide on a policy, program shift, or funding? Is there an issue or topic that the YPAR process will focus on? Is the aim to build greater youth-adult partnerships with less focus on topic area or research projects?
  • Clarify the fit: There is no “one way” or “best fit” for using YPAR, but being clear and up front about how youth will fit into the overall system and their role on the project is important to avoid tokenizing young people.
  • Ensure adequate staffing and support: Identify adults who are ready to engage with youth as partners, are flexible in their approach and are given time to show up. Facilitating a YPAR process requires time and energy on “behind the scenes” work to ensure that time spent together with the youth team is meaningful.
  • Compensation: Consider how young people will be compensated for their energy, time and expertise. Let youth partners know that their wisdom and skills are valued.
  • Timeline: The YPAR model is flexible and can be adapted to many settings and timeframes, but the focus on building relationships and reflection does “slow down” the process. YPAR projects supported by OHA funding have lasted anywhere from a few months to an entire school year. A few have even spanned more than one school year.

​​​​Ready to start building support for YPAR in your community or organization? These​ ​​Talking Points​​ ​can be used to communicate the main pieces, benefits, and key considerations for any YPAR project.

More YPAR resources can be found at the YPAR Hub​​​ co-created by UC-Berkeley and SF Peer Resources.

The YPAR Curriculum was developed with the Institute for Community Research (ICR) as a tool to support youth-adult partnerships and help youth-serving organizations integrate youth voice into their work. The curriculum:

  • Provides step-by-step instructions and activities for guiding a group of young people through the action research process.
  • Is meant to be adapted to meet the needs of the sponsoring organization or entity, including the needs of the youth participants, timeframe, and specific social or health topic.
  • Is based in research conducted by the ICR, and experiences of the Adolescent & School Health Program.

D​ownload YPAR Curric​​ulum​YPAR Curriculum
​​Additional YPAR lessons and resources can be found at the YPAR Hub​ ​co-created by UC-Berkeley and SF Peer Resources.

201​9-20​21 YPAR Evaluation

​​OHA’s Adolescent & School Health Team partnered with Matchstick Consulting to conduct an evaluation of YPAR projects that received OHA funding. The evaluation included YPAR projects that took place in both classroom and club settings. The ​Executive Summaryoffers some key learnings and recommendations.​​​

2015 Evaluation of YPAR Pilot Project

​​School-based health centers and youth-serving organizations across the state were awarded funds to take part in a pilot project to implement a Youth Particpatory Action Research (YPAR) project with a focus on mental health using the YPAR Curriculum. Projects ran from February to June 2015.​​

The Final Evaluation Report​​ ​describes the training and technical assistance provided to sites, as well as successes, challenges, and key learnings for future projects.