We recently facilitated a 2-hour Theory of Change workshop with 30 youth and adult members of the Minnesota Youth Council, an initiative of Minnesota Alliance with Youth that empowers youth to exercise their voices, opinions and ideas to take action on youth issues across the state. The purpose was to gather their input as to which issues concern Minnesota Youth Council, what its strategies are to address them, the expected long-term outcome of their work, and ultimate vision of a better world.
The workshop began with a simple definition of a Theory of Change, complete with examples and a breakdown of its main components. With a discussion facilitator at each of the small group tables, we did three 15-minute rounds of data collection to answer: “What is the problem the Council is trying to address?” “What are the expected changes the Council hopes to see from addressing these problems?” and “What strategies does the Council take to address the changes they hope to see?” Using post-it notes, markers, and poster boards, the results were a wonderful flurry of ideas that the facilitators coaxed into organization to answer the questions.
This participatory data collection provides rich information to articulate the Minnesota Youth Council’s theory. We had a lively discussion, but most importantly, this format allowed for all voices to be heard from youth as they shape their own Theory of Change.