Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Scot Evans

Advisor Role

Thesis Co-Supervisor

Second Advisor

Colleen Loomis

Advisor Role

Thesis Co-Supervisor


Youth engagement (the meaningful participation and sustained involvement of a young person in an activity outside of him or herself; CEYE, 2003), in particular with organizations that affect young people’s lives, has positive effects on both youth and organizations (Driscoll, 2002; Hart, 1992; Zeldin, McDaniel, Topitzes, & Calvert, 2000). Research on youth engagement has identified that successful and sustainable youth engagement requires a combination of local, interagency, and political level structures (Caputo, 2000). Waterloo Region (Ontario, Canada) has isolated pockets of youth engaged in decision-making; however, no regional youth engagement initiative exists at the interagency and political levels. Regional efforts to improve the lives of young people do exist, however. One such initiative, the Alliance for Children and Youth of Waterloo Region, has made a commitment to youth engagement and strengthening youth voice. Using a collaborative ethnography approach, the current study works within pre-existing organizational structures of the Alliance to develop a youth engagement strategy. Using participant-observation and interviews with Alliance member representatives, this study examines how member organizations define youth engagement, explores the unique opportunities and barriers associated with youth engagement within the Alliance context, and articulates a vision for how the Alliance can advance youth engagement in Waterloo Region. Findings from this study have implications for how the Alliance can develop a youth engagement strategy. Additional insights around organizational development are explored.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Psychology Commons