Project Description

a youth-led research project

High School Scholar

Together with the “C Program” venture philanthropy fund, this project had 27 high school students become researchers to discover “what youth really want”. It was completely planned, led, and conducted by the students and ran from March to August 2017.

Wouldn’t teenagers know what they want best?

This was the first study “for youth, by youth”; instead of being the subjects of research, we gave the participants the role of “researcher”. The process of research, feedback, and cooperation with adults—a first time experience for many of the students—allowed the youth to hear voices other than their own and share their findings to the world. We believe the process of finding one’s interests and strengths which was highlighted in this project is one that youth should continue participating in in the future.

Project Processes

  • Youth studied youth.
  • We wanted to create a safe space for the high school researchers. We developed a “high school scholar ecosystem” by facilitating conversations between researchers and promoting research processes and mindsets.
  • We published a report called “High School Scholar: Studying My Own Life”. It contained our observations on the research process and the results from the participating research teams.

Project Insights

Here is the process we used when working with these young researchers:

  • Imbue identity (“You are a researcher, not a student who researches”)
  • Create a safe space and ecosystem
  • Show, not tell  
  • Allow connections to naturally form instead of creating teams in advance
  • Guide the process by asking good questions
  • Give feedback, reflect often, and record the process


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