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Principal Investigator: Maren King, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Community Partners: Sarah Reckess and Leah Russell, Near Westside Peacemaking Project, a project of the Center for Court Innovation

Title: Raising the Next Generation of Community Leaders: A Participatory Research Process with Teenagers of the Near Westside Neighborhood of Syracuse, New York

The Center for Community Design Research (CCDR) is an outreach program within the Environmental Science and Forestry Department of Landscape Architecture at State University of New York (SUNY), located in Syracuse. CCDR partners with communities, elected officials, agencies, not-for-profit organizations, and other academic programs to provide technical assistance, educational programs, and research projects that build community capacity to manage sustainable futures. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, in collaboration with Westside Peacemaking Project, a project of the Center for Court Innovation, are investigating how to “Rais[e] the Next Generation of Community Leaders".

Neighborhood youth are "growing up quickly" amidst a backdrop of poverty, gun violence, and drug sales, and have few opportunities for growth and skills-oriented activities, relatable mentors, learning job skills, and earning a good wage. Adult research team mentors and neighborhood teenagers as co-researchers plan to investigate, better understand, and communicate the issues that are affecting young people's lives and develop plans for actions that provide pathways for positive growth as individuals and as community leaders. 

The findings will inform a Youth Community Impact Team that will work in collaboration with partners; two or more additional action projects that communicate positive change, teen leadership skills, and civic engagement; and youth participants with choices stemming from their participation for continued education and higher wage employment.

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