To address the persistent failure of schooling to support underserved students, youth participatory action research (YPAR) has emerged as an alternative and critical paradigm for educational practice. YPAR re-centers authority on marginalized voices and understands research as a tool for social change. Grounded in critical pedagogy, such projects enable students to collaboratively critique oppressive structures and envision more equitable possibilities. In this article, the authors analyze a YPAR project on educational inequities conducted with high school students in a college access program. Through case study analysis of in-depth interviews with student-researchers and participant observation of the research process, the article suggests that the YPAR model moves students towards praxis by helping them develop more authoritative voices, renegotiate identity as part of a social process of belonging, and begin to envision their roles in creating a more just world. We argue that the tensions inherent in critical pedagogical processes like that of YPAR present fruitful challenges for continuing reflection on working both within and against existing educational systems.