YES!’s definition of youth empowerment is the outcome by which youth, as change agents, gain the skills to impact their own lives and lives of other individuals, organizations and communities.*
Youth that are empowered using the YES! Youth Empowerment Model continue to create community change throughout their lives.
YES!’s definition of youth empowerment at the individual level is exercising power over ones life by being skilled, critically aware, and active in creating community change.*
YES!’s definition of youth empowerment at the organizational level is the implementation of a culture, vision, and system that supports youth empowerment at the individual level.*
The Model is a three-pronged approach that effectively engages young people in work that challenges them to develop skills, gain critical awareness, and participate in opportunities that are necessary for creating community change.
- Skill Development: The process of strengthening skills and increasing knowledge to improve equitable decision-making, authentic peer and community engagement, and community change through advocacy and activism.
- Critical Awareness: The ability to identify, analyze, and share information and resources in order to center the lived experiences of historically marginalized youth, change the narrative, and have a deeper understanding of the “how” and “why” of racial equity, youth empowerment, and community change.
- Opportunities: The actions taken to achieve sustainable community change through the lens of racial equity and youth empowerment.
YES! applies The Model to youth ages 13-21.
* This definition is a result of adult and youth staff collaboration, April 2011