Confident futures: Community-based organizations as first responders and agents of change in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic

Soc Sci Med. 2022 Feb:294:114639. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114639. Epub 2021 Dec 17.


This comparative study of community organizations serving marginalized youth in New York City and Amsterdam utilized a novel ethnographic approach called reverse engineering to identify techniques for social change that are active in each organization, adaptable and translatable to other contexts. It found that youth-serving organizations led flexible responses to the crisis of COVID-19 as it affected those marginalized by race, immigrant status, housing instability, religion and gender. The organizations employed techniques that they had previously developed to cultivate youth well-being - among them connectivity, safe space, and creativity - to mount tailored responses to COVID-19 related crises. In New York City, these groups addressed crises of material survival resources (personal protective equipment, food, housing) whereas in Amsterdam, youth-serving organizations focused on social connections and emotional well-being as the government met more of participants' material needs.

Keywords: COVID-19; Community-based organizations; Ethnography; Youth resilience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • COVID-19*
  • Emergency Responders*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • SARS-CoV-2