Voicing Our Future: Surveying Youth on their Priorities for 2021 and Beyond


May 26, 2021

By: Jack Mullan

In February 2021, youth advocates and Citizens’ Committee for Children launched a survey that collected responses from more than 1,300 young people (ages 14 to 24) across New York City. The survey was designed and distributed in collaboration with hundreds of youth who wanted to hear from their peers on the issues that matter most to them in the build up to the 2021 municipal elections for mayor, city council, and borough president. Today, the results of the survey are released publicly in the form of an interactive report that outlines key findings on youth priorities for the next administration, and presents maps, tables, and tools for the public to explore data from the survey – diving into the experiences, opinions, and voices of youth by zip code, age, gender, and more.

The results of the survey capture responses from more than 1,330 young people, with a representative share from all five boroughs. Key takeaways include:

Youth lack extracurricular, mental health supports and many are involved in racial justice work

  • Less than 50% of youth report receiving extracurricular support for academics and tutoring or career, internship, and job opportunities
  • More than a third (35%) of youth report wanting or needing mental health services from a professional, particularly youth in the Bronx and Manhattan
  • Among youth who want/need mental health services only 42% reported receiving these services
  • More than 60% of youth report that they demonstrated support for racial justice campaigns over the past year

Youth feel strongly about climate change, educational equity; many feel they don’t have a say in government

  • More than 80% of agreed that government must take more serious action against climate change and public, non-specialized high schools deserve more resources
  • Youth in Manhattan are most likely to feel that their schools are not reflective of NYC’s diversity
  • A majority of female and non-binary or gender fluid youth report that they feel disadvantaged because of their gender identity
  • Only 40% of youth agree – and 35% disagree that they have a say about what the government does

Youth report a need for more educational, mental health resources and challenges with economic security and public safety

  • Youth voiced many concerns and recommendations in the open-ended section of the survey, which are spelled out in pages 11 through 14 of the report
  • When asked about resources that they use or need, more than half of youth respondents cited educational, mental health, and non-cash (housing, health care, food) resources
  • When asked about the challenges they face, education and mental health were also at the top of the list, as well as challenges around economic security, public health and safety, and finding a voice and community

CCC’s 26 YouthAction Members launched Voicing Our Future, an initiative to survey a broad sample of NYC youth about their priorities in advance of the local elections, in September 2020. During weekly Zoom meetings, they worked with CCC staff to design a participatory process that engaged over 150 additional youth in focus groups on survey design, implementation, and unpacking preliminary findings.

Over 1,300 youth responded to the survey via SMS (text messaging) and on Google Forms, completing both closed- and open-ended questions that were generated from focus group conversations with dozens of young people. Every participant who completed the survey received a $5 gift card to CVS and was encouraged to share the link to the survey with their peers and networks. Data were collected from February 10 to March 17, 2021.

To learn more about these results and explore data from the survey, you can view or download a PDF of the report, embedded below, or click the box below to view the Google Data Studio in full.

View Full Report: Voicing Our Future 2021 >

Scroll down in the PDF to navigate the report. Note that the visuals are not interactive in this embedded version, but can be accessed in the full report here.

Watch Our Voicing Our Future Webinar

Explore Related Content