Community Action Research / Surveys

Since 2014, Youthful Cities has surveyed thousands of youths aged 15-29 years old to help cities and organizations understand and engage this often underheard group.

What is Community Action Research?

“Community action research is also known as participatory action research. It’s a non-academic method of collecting data — research —  from communities, but it’s using community members. It’s using people who are impacted by the issues being studied. It’s also about ensuring that as you bring affected community members in, you’re providing them opportunities to have their voice heard on why should we be conducting research in this area in the first place, and it’s about bringing their voice into the process, into the design of the research questions, the survey questions, which is really pivotal. And it’s also about ensuring that we utilize community knowledge in outreach. So who should be taking this survey? Who should be answering these questions? And then most importantly, it’s about ensuring that we use those same community members to help analyze the data and tell a story.”

Ginger Gosnell-Myers, Fellow at SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue; Decolonization and Urban Indigenous Planning; Quote from Pivot 2020 Training Video


Youthful Cities uses the community action research model to collect public opinion data, which can take the form of surveys or interviews. We hire youth from local communities and involve them in the process from start to finish. This research provides valuable insights for stakeholders and can spark real change.

Results of the Global Millennial Survey 2016 ranking what millennials felt were the most important urban attributes.
Results from the 2016 Global Urban Millennial Survey
“Designing effective public policy and implementing high impact projects to generate development in Quito requires a better understanding of our citizen’s needs and of our current reality. Youthful Cities’ vision and work provides valuable data analysis about our cities and have become strategic allies of the youth, organizations and municipalities to generate social innovation around the world.”

Carolina Pozo Donoso, Former Secretary General
Planning and Open Government, City of Quito

Case Study

Pivot 2020

In 2020, Youthful Cities surveyed over 3000 youth (15 – 29) in 27 cities across Canada as part of the Pivot project. This survey underwent extensive review by Simon Fraser University’s Research Ethics Board (SFU REB), as well as review by youth employed in the project. Ginger Gosnell-Myers, quoted above, was part of the consultation and analysis process. Over 300,000 data points were collected, which are now freely available to access on THE GRID.

The interview process underwent similar review by the REB and resulted in over 350 hours of recorded interview time from 500+ youth. The transcribed quotes reveal youth experiences and unique stories in each youth’s own words. Visit THE GRID to read them.

Case Study

Global Urban Millennial Survey 2016

This survey reveals a comprehensive view of the big issues youth want cities to focus on. It showcases the benefits of cities being youthful and it highlights a looming youth retention problem cities may face. We asked young people 15-34 about how they see their cities and their municipal governments. This report also offers a unique perspective on the lives of urban millennials – from work to play and in between.

To complete one of the biggest surveys of its kind, we recruited and trained 50 Millennial Research Fellows around the world and let them loose in their cities. Their goal: capture the voice of young people. This report represents the opinions of approximately 15,000 youth from 34 cities across all global regions.