participants   
 *
All  participants are 
protected by IRB research protocol and
 are pseudonymously referenced throughout.*
            

abstract

This research study, the Drop Knowledge Project in New York City (DKPNYC), documents the critical literacy praxis of five urban youth organizers. The youth involved in the study are all alumni of the Human Rights Activist Project (HRAP), a social action-oriented youth organizing program run by Global Kids (GK). Global Kids is a community-based youth development organization in New York City that offers a wide variety of international education and leadership development programming. All five participants are in their early twenties, come from historically under-resourced New York City neighborhoods and share the context of involvement in HRAP when they were public high school students.

As post-structuralist educational research, this research is designed firstly as a cultural studies project. As a study of learning, the interview data from the five participants is read through a taxonomy of critical literacy praxis to explore two central research questions:  

(1) How do urban youth organizers engage in critical literacy praxis as they become activists? 

(2) How do urban youth organizers articulate a vision of themselves as activists? 

These questions were answered through an ethical-political approach, designed as a cracked narrative research methodology, using qualitative data to produce a polyvocal portrait of the participants. The data collection and analysis takes a hybrid approach to critical discourse analysis. The representation of this data is written rhizomatically to explore polyvocality (Alvermann, 2000; Deleuze & Guattari, 1987; Lather 2007). Click here for works cited in this study. 

There are practical implications from the transgressive conclusions of this research for youth, educators, researchers and activists. Youth organizing programs, like the Human Rights Activist Project, can offer a generative space from which to engage young people in critical reflection upon their social and political contexts, to envision and take action for positive change. As a space not congested by external measures of academic achievement, organizing projects provide an informal youth development platform through which critical literacy learning is more fully realized. The DKPNYC participants all called for further creation of such safe spaces for ethical, intersubjective, social justice-oriented youth activism. The conclusions of this project point to the need to develop a space for youth to share their stories and their counter-narratives: a counter-space

To learn about the future of this work, visit the global Drop Knowledge Project at www.dropknowledgeproject.org