YES! empowers youth, in partnership with adults, to create community change.
YES! was founded in 2007 and became operational Jan. 1, 2008. YES! was the shared concept of five visionary young adults who, after realizing success in creating and implementing youth-led tobacco prevention advocacy efforts across North Carolina for seven years, saw an unmet need for a holistic approach to adolescent health that included youth-adult partnerships and policy advocacy. The YES! Youth Empowerment Model grew from this and has become the framework that the organization is centered on.
Q. Who do you serve?
YES! equips high school-aged youth and their adult allies with the tools they need to take a stand in their communities and create change that will positively impact adolescent health. We believe that youth should have a voice on the issues that impact them and work to ensure that they have opportunities to take action by providing training and support to our partners. In many nonprofit organizations, the work that is being done is generally for youth and not with youth. At YES!, high school-aged students are hired as staff members who work in conjunction with adult staff.
Q. What is your proudest accomplishment?
Our biggest accomplishment is the diverse revenue mix that we have achieved. In order for any business to survive and flourish, it is important to have a healthy mixture of funding. When YES! was founded and became operational in 2008, virtually all of our funding came from one source — and it was government funding. The team at YES! has worked really hard for the past five years to diversity our revenue so that we have a very healthy funding mix, including unrestricted funds, that allow us to be innovative in our programming.
Q. What is Youth Empowered Solutions’ greatest need?
In order for us to achieve our mission, we need ADULTS to not only understand youth empowerment but to adopt a youth empowerment framework in the work that they do. It may seem odd to say that we need adults to support our mission, as we are a youth empowerment organization, but we believe that the burden of equity shouldn’t rest on the shoulders of the disenfranchised group.
Q. What is your organization’s plan for the future?
YES! is working on a project now that would enhance our ability to serve our clients by providing consulting and other resources, in addition to our traditional youth and adult trainings. We are striving to find creative ways to meet the demands we are experiencing while continuing to provide excellent, outcome-oriented service.