Community-Engaged Research  

Elevating Youth Voices, Empowering Youth Workers: Bridging Communities in Ontario, through community-engaged research!

Our Focus

In collaboration with the York Research Chair in Youth and Contexts of Inequity, YouthREX’s Community-Engaged Research activities explore research questions on the experiences of youth and youth workers in contexts of inequity.

We’re interested in understanding how factors that determine youth wellbeing extend beyond the experiences of youth to youth work and larger systemic issues, including institutional relationships.

Research Questions

How have these issues been compounded by COVID?

How do these issues impact youth that face multiple vulnerabilities (the contexts of inequity)?

How do youth act/resist/react to these issues?

How are they creating ‘spaces’ to participate in (and lead) conversations about their wellbeing?

What are the systemic issues, gaps, and barriers encountered by youth workers?

How are youth workers responding to the challenges they are experiencing including COVID?

How might we engage and leverage ‘systems’ to better support youth and youth workers?

Our Commitment

We're committed to not just conducting research, but to bringing it to life in ways that truly matter. We will share findings from our research activities with our community stakeholders in timely and accessible formats to energize change and action in Ontario’s youth work sector,and also contribute to the youth work knowledge base through academic publications and presentations.

Our Methodology

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York Research Chair in Youth and Contexts of Inequity

The findings from research and evaluation on these three dimensions will be integrated to inform an understanding of youth wellbeing that rightly focuses attention on the social conditions and institutions that generate multiple barriers and vulnerabilities for youth (contexts of inequity), rather than a decontextualized focus on ‘vulnerable’ youth that pathologizes and blames youth for the systemic challenges and constraints they experience.

The York Research Chair in Youth and Contexts of Inequity will develop a community-engaged research agenda that brings together research questions on three dimensions that are frequently studied in silos, but are not static – rather, they are continuously developing, occasionally in synergy, and, often times, in tension with one another: The Youth, The Work, The System.

Current  Projects

Ontario Youth Sector Compass

The Ontario Youth Sector Compass research project is a collaboration between YouthREX and the York Research Chair in Youth and Contexts of Inequity. This project is focused on understanding what supports young people in Ontario need to thrive and what supports youth workers need to work with young people as healthily as possible. By merging quantitative data from surveys and stories from qualitative interviews, rich insights about youth and youth workers across Ontario are revealed through an equity-based approach.

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Centering Black Youth Wellbeing: Beyond Anti-Black Racism Training to Transformational Action

This initiative encompasses applied research, evaluation, capacity building, and knowledge exchange activities and serves as an extension of the Centering Black Youth Wellbeing Certificate. The project aims to delve deeper into the impact of anti-Black racism training initiatives, particularly in terms of enhancing the capabilities of individuals to drive transformational change within programs and organizations dedicated to serving Black youth. Additionally, the project seeks to explore how Black youth can be authentically involved in endeavors focused on their own wellbeing.

Coming Soon

ON Youth Data dashboard

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Coming soon!

Past  Projects

Economic Empowerment of Black Youth


The Outcomes Framework for the Economic Empowerment of Black Youth in Ontario –developed by YouthREX in partnership with the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities and the Dream Legacy Foundation, and funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community & Social Services –supports both community and government stakeholders in establishing a shared understanding of outcomes for interventions funded under the Economic Empowerment Stream of the Black Youth Action Plan.

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Doing Right Together for Black Youth


Doing Right Together for Black Youth summarizes what was learned from over 1,500 community members during community consultations to co-develop the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan (BYAP) in 2017.

This report shares the top 10 issues for Black youth and their families, ideas on the best ways to engage Black youth in meaningfully shaping the development and implementation of the BYAP projects, as well as the important characteristics of organizations that can meet the needs of Black youth.

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Beyond Measure

In order to inform the development of YouthREX’s services and to have a greater understanding of the evaluation capacity of the youth sector, YouthREX undertook a province-wide survey early in 2015. This study examined the experiences of youth-serving agencies with conducting evaluation of their programs and services, resulting in recommendations to facilitate strategic and critical dialogue and action.

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The New Opportunities for Innovative Student Engagement (NOISE) project was a research-informed model for enhancing the academic success of youth through engaged learning opportunities that energized and supported their civic engagement and psycho-social wellbeing. Initially implemented with youth from Toronto’s Jane-Finch community and social work students from York University, the model was expanded to XXX communities across Ontario by YouthREX.

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ACT for Youth

The Assets Coming Together (ACT) for Youth project was a comprehensive program encompassing applied research, capacity building, knowledge transfer, and evaluation, with a specific focus on youth in the Jane-Finch community of Toronto. This initiative sought to counteract the prevalent negative public discourse surrounding Jane-Finch youth, which brands them as 'problems'. The project was made possible through a significant $1 million Community-University Research Alliance grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

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Apply for FREE #evaluation support!

Interested in requesting an Evidence Brief or developing a Logic Model or an Evaluation Plan, including support with data collection or analysis?

How to apply? Fill out a simple online application, and we'll get back to you within 3 business days.

Who should apply? Youth-serving organizations or initiatives in Ontario.

What is the cost? $0! Our evaluation supports are free.

How will we work together? It is customized so we start where you are. Check out our service pledge.

Not sure what support you need? Book a 1-on-1 call with a member of our team to discuss any of our free Customized Evaluation Supports.

Connecting shared knowledge to youth work, browse our Knowledge Hub today!
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