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Democracy Lab

Garden Project

Developing Urban Leaders for Civic Engagement​

A New Democracy Coalition project in partnership with the Center for African, Caribbean, and Community Development, UMass Boston.

Democracy Lab Fellows Project

“Exploring civic ideas with tomorrow’s urban leaders”

Director: Kevin C. Peterson



Phone: 617.304.5068

The Democracy Lab is a Congressionally recognized youth literacy program which is a collaboration between local institutions in Boston. The six-week program employs the application of the latest research and application of teen youth development leadership strategy. Public speaking, group design training, public reading, political analysis, and social media engagement comprise some of the teaching tactics used at the Democracy Lab.  Youth people also engage community leaders and are encouraged to raise questions of social, civic, and cultural practice.

The core components that make up Democracy Lab are:

  1. Youth,

  2. The City of Boston’s Youth Fund and/or ABCD, and

  3. Community leaders.

For the summer of 2022, we are preparing for “re-partnering” with UMass Boston.

Program Objective

The objective of the program is to provide high school aged youth with an opportunity to build leadership and critical analysis skills through the study of history. The project engages a small number of intellectually curious and socially conscious youth to study, discuss and debate aspects of local and national American history for the purposes of building their capacity to understand democracy and engage in social justice activities. High school students will engage the meaning of concepts such as justice, democracy, freedom, community development and civic participation.


The Democracy Lab is designed to inspire young people toward participating in community life and civic engagement. It focuses on encouraging a new generation to participate in governance and community organizing. It provides an opportunity to use the city’s resources and institutions for purposes of enriching community life.


The Democracy Lab uses traditional and non-traditional methods of teaching and instruction. Through seminars, group conversation, and field practice, the Democracy Lab inspires thoughtfulness and reflection.

Key Components of the Democracy Lab

Each session will be complimented with a mixture of films, group meetings and discussions, building public speaking skills, developing individual initiative and visits with guests. Each session will also require daily journaling and the development and implementation of a community service/action project.

The Program will focus on the following key components:

  1. City, state, and Federal Governmental Structures

  2. Voting Rights and Social Justice

  3. Voter Registration and Education

  4. Youth Leadership Development

  5. Media Analysis

  6. Computer Literacy

Key Components of the Democracy Lab

All youth participants are required to do the assigned Readings, attend all sessions, participate in all activities and complete all assignments.

  • Occasional writing

  • Weekly reflection writing on Thursdays (for group fed back on Mondays)

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