Our Model

Our Model

An innovative and adaptable approach to training and support

We adapt our trainings to meet the needs of young people

Our approach to training has developed iteratively over seven successive and successful years of delivery by our sister project, YouthCAN. In nine cities, across four countries, our tailored Youth Innovation Labs and follow-up support have supported young people to achieve tangible, positive impact in their communities. We pioneer new methods of engagement every year based on the needs and feedback of young people to help them best meet the challenges they face in their communities.

Our Process

Understanding the challenge

We conduct analysis to support young people as they develop projects to address the issues facing their communities.


Our three-tiered approach to analysis enables us to understand the challenges facing young people in their communities.

Conducting surveys to gather information on public perceptions of young people and other community members.

Leading focus groups with local government officials, civil society organisations and youth activists to capture local voices and experiences and map the local environment.

Employing our in-house social media analysis tools to visualise key data and trends.

This research is integrated into our design of programmes, as well as into public reports for local policymakers, practitioners and international partners.

Creating strategic partnerships

We partner with local organisations and experts to provide tailored support to young people, utilising community-based knowledge and skills.

Local Organisational Support

We identify local organisations to partner and build long-lasting relationships with. They provide us on-the-ground support in the design, development and delivery of youth-led projects, and the coordination with local officials.

Local EXPERT Support

We ensure that youth-led projects are always given the necessary support to help young activists realise their vision. This includes partnering with graphic designers, video producers, photo editors and others – always from the communities in which we are working.

Government partnerships

Young Cities builds upon relationships fostered by the Strong Cities Network to build meaningful partnerships with local government. We leverage these relationships to connect young people with local leaders and to help improve local youth policies and programmes. By drawing from YouthCAN’s model of youth empowerment and the Strong Cities Network’s legacy of municipal support, Young Cities is working top-down and bottom-up to build partnerships between young people and local government.


Young people can be the best mentors for other young people. They are credible, passionate and empathetic to the issues they face collectively. We harness those strengths by partnering young people who have successfully completed a Young Cities programme with our newer members, through our Young Cities ‘Coaches’ and ‘Ambassadors’ programmes.

Training youth

We deploy evidence-led training to provide a rich and engaging capacity building programme, which enables young people to plan and develop their own projects.

Youth Innovation Labs

Young people have extensive and in-depth experience of the issues most affecting their communities. We help them apply these experiences through structured training sessions we call ‘Youth Innovation Labs’ that last between 3 and 4 days. The sessions lead them from the identification of the issues to taking tangible steps to address them. The planning phases of the training hone the young activists’ practical skills in budget-setting, risk mapping and timeline building.

Building local networks

From design and production to dissemination and amplification, establishing and supporting local networks bolsters the impact of youth-led projects. In each of the cities we work in, we help and encourage young people to connect with their peers, local creatives, and civil society organisations.

Youth-municipal engagement

At the end of all of our Labs, representatives from the local government are invited to take part and to collaborate with young people. By listening to the concerns of young people and the solutions they propose, local governments take steps to understanding the issues relevant to young people, and begin to formulate policies and programmes that bear in mind those issues.

Implementation of the projects

Young Cities offers seed funding and continued support to help young people transform their ideas into impact. Since 2018, we have provided nearly £250,000 in financial support directly to young people.

Large-scale Impact

Our six-month, evidence-driven impact model places emphasis on extensive youth-led planning and research. We work with groups of between 20 and 30 participants in four or more teams. With our flexible approach, Young Cities is enabling the future of preventing and countering hate, polarisation and extremism in these communities and helping to drive positive impact.


We work with young people on an ongoing basis, offering continuous support and training along the way. Our local partners are essential to this process: they share their skills, experiences and networks with our young people to make sure they get the most out of their Young Cities experience.

seed funding

Of course, without funding, a great project idea will remain just that: an idea. It is not enough to offer young people training; they must also have the opportunity to utilise the knowledge and skills they gain. Young Cities supports young people with small-scale grants of up to £6,000. This financial support combined with ongoing mentorship enables young people to transform their ideas into impact.

Cooperation with cities

Cooperating with local government in our trainings and through City Initiatives gives young people a platform to directly influence local decision-making.


Each Youth Innovation Lab includes additional training for representatives from local government to share research, build their capacity to engage with young people, and share best practices from other city contexts. The workshops also include joint sessions with the young people to discuss issues and find opportunities to work together.

City Initiatives

In addition to helping our activists work more closely with cities, we work directly with local representatives to help them develop new policies and programmes for youth engagement. By providing funding and guidance, we enable local initiatives that improve youth-related policy and practice. These have included research projects, trainings, and involving young people in policy-development.

Long-term engagement

Our support to young people does not stop when their initiatives stop. We continue to work with young people, year-on-year, to ensure they continue to have significant impact in their local communities.


Every year, in every city we work in, we collaborate with cities to hold events for young people to showcase their projects to a range of community members, including local and national government, civil society organisations, and media outlets. These showcase events provide an invaluable opportunity for young people to network, advocate for specific policies, and gain further momentum for their projects.


Our ‘Ambassadors Grants’ give young who have previously participated in the Young Cities programme – and who have excelled in delivering projects – an opportunity to lead more projects or amplify existing ones. This is one way of ensuring successful projects continue to have much-needed impact.

Developing best practice

We continually seek to improve our own understanding and the understanding of those we work with: young people, community groups, local government and international partners.

models & publications

We run and adapt multiple research projects every year. This research is led by our team of experienced researchers across the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, and often, in partnership with community groups and young people who are trained on collecting data and analysis.  This collaborative research approach seeks to enhance young people’s understanding of the challenges they face while contributing to overall community understanding of youth issue sets.  Our policy papers and reports are then made available to the public on our website.

What is Young Cities?


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If you would like to find out more about our impact, or would like to discuss future opportunities, we would love to hear from you.

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