Webinar Recap: OST Practitioners Can Help Youth Resist Fascism

February 12, 2021

NIOST no neutrality webinar presenters

On Thursday, January 28, the National Institute on Out-of-School Time and Suffolk University’s Youth Equity & Sexuality Lab hosted a virtual workshop titled, “No Neutrality in the Face of Hate: How YOU Can Help Youth Resist Fascism.” The workshop featured four experts from diverse scholarly and educational backgrounds and discussed the ways in which youth development practitioners can utilize their knowledge and skills to help youth resist fascism. Speakers presented strategies from their paper in the Journal of Youth Development titled “Youth Practitioners Can Counter Fascism: What We Know and What We Need.”

Presenter Mimi Arbeit, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Suffolk University and principal investigator of the Youth, Equity & Sexuality Lab, discussed the unique position youth development practitioners have in combating the highly manipulative mythologies of fascism. “While this manipulation feeds on young people's developmental vulnerabilities, we believe that with the right support, more and more young people can resist fascist recruitment and contribute to community building and social justice,” she said.

“Youth generally look for places to fit in and find a sense of belonging,” said Alexandria C. Onuoha, a first-year applied developmental psychology doctoral student at Suffolk University in the Youth Equity & Sexuality Lab. Her primary research focuses on the messages of far-right groups and their impact on the development of Black women college students on campus and online. Onuoha discussed the idea of counter-recruiting youth into movements for social justice, for example, by teaching histories of resistance to fascism and introducing youth to antifascist activists in their communities.

Sarah L. F. Burnham, a second-year applied developmental psychology doctoral student at Suffolk University, discussed immunizing youth against the manipulative fascist messages they may be exposed to, and helping youth identify and debunk fascist lies. Teaching media literacy skills, workshopping responses to far-right and fascist talking points around major events or current issues, and asking youth about what they are seeing and hearing are all critical steps that youth development practitioners can take.

“Everybody deserves a more positive, caring approach, and we need to step away from punitive responses to problematic behavior,” added Duane de Four, an educator with more than 25 years of experience developing intersectional curricula, strategic initiatives, and policies, who spoke about the importance of restorative justice for youth who show warning signs of fascist recruitment. “We have to, as people who work with youth, accept that this is happening and not be surprised by this, because then you can’t intervene if you’re caught off guard,” he explained.

“Even though we know fascism is inherently manipulative, we also know young people have incredible agency -- to recognize and reject fascist propaganda, to intervene when they or their friends encounter fascist messages, and to organize collectively against fascism and for social justice. We do this work because we believe in young people,” said Dr. Arbeit about the importance of sharing her team’s research with youth development and out-of-school time professionals.

To read the presenters’ published article (free to download), visit the Journal of Youth Development. Please send questions about this program to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


    "NIOST has been an anchor for numerous school age care projects we do, including ASQ (After-School Quality) and Links to Learning. They are a nationally respected organization that Pennsylvania has partnered with for over 20 years."

    – Betsy O. Saatman, TA Specialist/SAC Initiatives, Pennsylvania Key

    "NIOST was a core partner in supporting the development of quality improvement systems across the nine cities that participated in The Wallace Foundation Next Generation Afterschool System-Building Initiative. The NIOST team worked well with other technical assistance partners in the initiative, always willing to pitch in and collaborate with others to make our professional learning community meetings a team effort. I truly hope the Foundation has an opportunity to partner with them in the future."

    – Priscilla M. Little, Initiative Manager, The Wallace Foundation


    "NIOST has been a leader in the out-of-school time field for as long as I can remember, and I have relied on their research, tools, and advice to improve my practice throughout my career. Their staff members are good partners and good listeners, and their influence across the country is palpable."

    – Jane Quinn, Vice President and Director of National Center for Community Schools, Children's Aid Society

    "Georgia Hall, Ellen Gannett, and the NIOST team have been instrumental in driving the healthy afterschool movement. Their dedication to quality practice, informed policy, and collective impact is instrumental in our effort to create healthier communities."

    – Daniel W. Hatcher, Director, Community Partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

niost logo white

The National Institute on Out-of-School Time

A program of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College

Wellesley Centers for Women
Wellesley College
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481-8203 USA

Directions to NIOST

Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. By continuing to use our site, or clicking "Continue", you are agreeing to our privacy policy.
Continue Privacy Policy