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Civic Impact

Youth workers get new hub to find and share information

A new information hub for people working with marginalized youth in Ontario aims to demonstrate that a little knowledge can go a long way.
Launched last week, the eXchange for Youth Work is a project of York University’s School of Social Work for the provincial Youth Research & Evaluation eXchange (YouthREX). YouthREX sets out to create an evidence-based strategic framework for improving youth outcomes—that is, ensuring that programs and services really do have an impact on their lives and communities. The hub will make it easier for youth workers to access and share information to deliver and improve their offerings to Aboriginal, newcomer, racialized, disabled, LGBTTQ and other special-needs youth. The search function of the eXchange allows users to zoom in on what’s most important for the youth they’re working with.
The curated library already contains more than 500 resources, including research summaries that can help workers more quickly determine if a document is relevant and helpful. Though mainstream resources may be getting better at including data and insight on marginalized communities, they may not highlight information that’s especially relevant, overlooking issues like intersectional identities or using language that is not especially inclusive. The hub will include everything from academic papers to blogs to relevant personal stories.
“One of the things we’re careful about is not using a lot of the exclusionary language that exists within the research community. Language is powerful for so many different reasons and can be another tool that magnifies divisions,” says Uzo Anucha, provincial academic director of YouthREX.
YouthREX emerged, in part, from increased pressure for community service organizations to share knowledge and increase cooperation, as well as find common tools for evaluating and measuring success. A for-profit business can just look at its bottom line. But when your job is, for example, to empower youth and build stronger communities, hard numbers can be hard to come by. Youth feedback is one method, but may not tell the whole story. So the eXchange website also includes an evaluation toolkit that helps workers come up with methods to determine if a given program is making the impact it’s striving for.
“It’s important we think of evidence as coming from difference sources, from research, from practice, from lived experiences to make sure we are giving voice to all the different voices within the circle,” says Anucha. “We have to do more to democratize who can do research and who access that, so that different people can actually tell their own stories.”
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Uzo Anucha
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