Critical Consciousness is the ability to recognize and analyze systems of inequality and develop a critical lens to navigate and challenge these systems. This is a core component of the way youth organizing is approached yet it is a core competency missing in many youth development programs. We see this as a long-term process that plays a fundamental (though seldom recognized) role in supporting youth’s meaningful growth, development and success. Please be aware that PFF is currently providing multiyear support to a core group of grantees and is not in a position to support new applicants. However, if you are engaged in Youth Led Social Change work that you would like to share with us, please send an introductory email to Program Associate Mercedes MacAlpine at 

To be eligible for this grant funding organizations must meet the following guidelines and criteria:

  • Youth are validated and supported in their decision-making processes; youth analyze concepts of power and systemic oppression through engaging and relevant programming.
  • Youth develop a deeper understanding of their identities and the connections to systems of power and oppression. Youth explore and embrace their unique lived experiences and layers of identity as assets.
  • Youth envision themselves as leaders and develop relationships with adults as allies and mentors; youth voice is centered in the decision making process and all stakeholders view this as a necessary and core component of institutional practice.
  • Staff demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning and implementation of a racial justice lens..
  • Youth value community engagement and commit to supporting social justice efforts.
  • Staff develops an analysis of critical consciousness and operationalizes the concept into youth work and organizational culture; staff critically unpacks the advantages of youth development with a critical consciousness lens versus traditional youth development practices. 
  • Institutional leadership, staff and board are reflective of the communities they serve and operate through a racial justice and equity lens.


Youth Organizing

Critically conscious youth development