YOU+LEAD: Building Youth Participatory Evaluation Teams in Your School

Unlocking the potential of students and educators improving their schools together

Are you curious about starting Youth Participatory Evaluation in your school? Want to learn how?

What is a Youth Participatory Evaluation (YPE) Program?


A Youth Participatory Evaluation (YPE) team is an innovative approach that engages students in evaluating the programs, organizations, and systems designed to serve them - in this case, their student and school experience. The program brings together diverse students and school leaders to elevate the students' voices, with the goal of improving schools and the overall student experience. Participants learn research methods, collect data, and partner with school leaders to bring forward and act on workable recommendations for improvement.

Over the past two years, Impact Florida partnered with two school districts, Pasco County Schools and the School District of Palm Beach County, to pilot YPE programs at four schools. The You+Lead cadre pilot programs were tremendously successful, and now Impact Florida is encouraging school leaders across the state to implement a You+Lead program in their schools.

Impact of YPE Programs on Students and Schools


Our You+Lead Cadre participants greatly benefited from their experiences with YPE, gaining invaluable insights and a stronger appreciation for each other and their schools.

  • Students thrived on being heard and grew in leadership skills, resilience, sense of belonging, self-confidence/self-efficacy, and elevation of unheard voices.
  • School Leaders and Youth Advisors reported seeing students' sense of belonging and students' perceptions of school climate improve.
  • School Leaders reported increased respect for student insights, greater recognition of student potential, and positive shifts in their perceptions of student self-confidence/self-efficacy.
  • Students reported greater confidence that they had the skills needed to create positive changes in their schools
  • Administrators reported that students' presentations and findings were well-received by faculty, even when students' recommendations included potentially sensitive issues, such as the lack of consistent policy implementation.


"I'm excited about presenting this information to people who could institute concrete changes and who might listen to our proposed solutions."

"Because [of YOU+LEAD] I believe that I can finally contribute to the decisions that run my school."

"It's harder and harder for people to see things from another lens, and they they did it by looking at data themselves. They also did it as they were listening to their colleagues presenting. They were out looking at other experiences."

"I really can appreciate the intent behind YPE - giving students an opportunity to have a voice could give them super meaningful opportunities for involvement on campus."

"A lot of times we're like, OK, we did this. We did that. How can we make it better? Well, we had the fountain of youth, no pun intended, sitting right there with us the whole time. The whole time when you thought, OK, we tried everything we can. Well, we forgot there's a whole set of people sitting in the room or sitting in the environment that we haven't even spoken to. And I think it's going to make us better, be better and us better as a school so that we can address these things."

Introducing "Unlocking Potential: Building Youth Participatory Evaluation Teams in Schools"

"Unlocking Potential: Building Youth Participatory Evaluation Teams in Schools" is a FREE online course available to all educators and school leaders who are interested in implementing a YPE program at their school.

The 2-hour course introduces you to You+Lead's Seven Steps of Youth Participatory Evaluation and presents each step's milestones in more detail. At each step in the process, you will receive appropriate guidance, instructions, and resources to set up YPE in your school. In addition, the course provides a workbook and templates you can use to facilitate the implementation of the program accurately and effectively.

If you are interested in learning more about YPE or would like to receive additional support and coaching from our team to bring YPE to your school, please email Alan Coverstone or Kelly Zunkiewicz.

Youth Participatory Evaluation (YPE) Program at the District Level

While YPE work can be established in any individual school, we also learned from the Districts that supported the You+Lead cadre schools. The experience in Florida showed that Districts can find synergy across school teams of students learning program evaluation techniques and giving real voice and agency to the students in their schools.

"The [cross-school connections] were really instrumental. The first one was essentially when our group started. I had met with those kids a couple of times, but hey got to see another school who was doing the same project. So I would definitely try to keep that as the best bang for your buck."

"It does help [the school-based Youth Advisors] to have somebody who does the coordination efforts and the check-ins. Definitely in the beginning, because I think it's harder in the beginning than if the school was in a second year, and they kind of know how to run it a little bit better. The logistics support [for shared learning and cross-school connections] is what they want. Hey, can you plan this for us? Can you set this up?"

There are great advantages to starting more than one You+Lead programs in a single school district. Teachers and staff can form a community and learn together. See this page for some guidance if you are considering a multi-school or district-wide You+Lead effort.


The Power Of Community

Join our community of education leaders committed to elevating student voices in schools. If you are interested in, or have implemented, a YPE Program or other youth voice effort in your school, we want to help you connect, collaborate, and learn from each other. Ask questions, offer advice, share experiences, and more!

Send us your comments and questions to learn more.
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To read more about the results of the You+Lead Cadre, see more detailed results from the pilot implementation.

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