CDC DASH Youth Empowerment Project

Multiracial students studying in library

Empowering youth to address structural barriers to adolescent health and well-being within schools and communities is an important part of realizing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) vision of “a future where all youth in the U.S. will be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and resources for a healthy adolescence and adulthood.”

Schools and communities are stronger when youth develop essential life skills, work together, and partner with adults—such as through effective youth advisory councils (YACs)—to shape environments so all youth can thrive and counter adverse childhood experiences.

To support youth and community leaders’ capacity to improve the vital conditions necessary for adolescent health and well-being in their community, CDC funded AIR to provide training, technical assistance, and coaching as well as monitoring and evaluation to school districts to demonstrate and learn about best practices for engaging youth as partners through YACs. These YACs comprise a body of diverse youth who vocalize adolescent health needs and engage in planning and implementing projects to address structural barriers to adolescent health in their schools and communities.

AIR is also funded to support the creation of professional development tools and materials on YACs and youth empowerment that can be found on CDC’s Healthy Youth website for school staff, teachers, and administrators to use to implement YACs as a youth empowerment strategy based upon research, best practices, and lessons learned.