YES! for Equity

Building Youth-Led Movements

Our Nation's Challenge

Young people under the age of 18 make up more than a quarter of the U.S. population, yet their potential as a generation to contribute to a better society is systematically ignored. Young people have been excluded from the development of policies, systems and environments, designed by adults to benefit them. As an age cohort, youth are rarely involved in governance and decision-making processes, due to economic, political, and procedural barriers that prevent their participation.

As a result, youth experience marginalization due to their membership to undervalued demographic groups, including: Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+, persons with disabilities, refugee, migrant, and economically disadvantaged. This marginalization fueled by white supremacy and adultism, not only infringes upon the overall well-being, rights and agency of young people, but also has negative effects on the communities and societies in which they live.

Our nation is suffering economically, creatively, and civilly as a result.

However, there is a clear solution, YES! for Equity.

A Clear Solution

YES! for Equity is a national training and movement-building force built on the belief that racial equity and inter-generational power-sharing are essential to creating community change. Founded in January 2008, as Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!), YES! developed the nationally recognized YES! Youth Empowerment Model® (The Model) for social change. YES! for Equity applies The Model to support the development of youth as civic leaders and to support adults and organizations to change harmful policies and practices that negatively affect youth. Through The Model, youth and adults gain the knowledge, skills and opportunities to name, analyze, and dismantle structural racism and adultism, which perpetuates systems of oppression.

YES! for Equity believes that our collective power as youth and adult allies to achieve the change we seek in the world depends on recognizing the history of structural racism that exists in the United States. We embrace the responsibility to work toward organizational and societal change in service to creating more equitable, thriving communities for all.

YES! for Equity Model

Since YES! inception, YES! has trained more than 20,000 youth and adults to apply The Model to further equitable policies.

Between 2011 and 2018, YES! alongside our partners have helped to change 230 systems, policies and environments, across more than 24 states, impacting and benefiting over 28,286,306 people.

The Model

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.

Building on previous success in Georgia and North Carolina, The Model was developed specifically to engage youth as civic leaders to advocate for local and state-level policies to address teen tobacco use in North Carolina and the south. YES! Youth staff led local advocacy efforts within their own school districts and then trained their peers on advocacy strategies to enact tobacco-free school policies. YES! Youth staff and Youth Leaders trained by YES! met with school personnel, local school board members, policymakers and business owners to advocate for additional local and statewide tobacco-free policies. Nationally, the Model has since been applied to issue areas from environmental justice to access to health care to achieve policy, system and environmental change.

Services & Support


YES! for Equity offers customized trainings and consultative coaching and technical assistance to help adults, youth, organizations and communities to further their mission and goals by applying the YES! For Equity Model® with an explicit racial equity framework. Our Custom Services are rooted in the outcomes of our Partners. Our services can be packaged for optimal results or can be selected based on our partner’s, needs, capacity and budget. Call YES! for Equity today to find out more information about our offerings, scheduling and pricing.

Organizational Change

Focus: Adult Allies (adults who partner with youth)

Adult Leader Trainings

  • Youth Empowerment and Racial Equity
  • Recruitment and Retention of (People of Color/Indigenous) BIPOC Youth and Staff
  • Youth Equity and Adultism
  • Understanding the Generations
  • Strategy Development & Action Planning to Center the Voices of Historically Marginalized Youth
  • Facilitation Skill Development Adult Allies for BIPOC Youth

Organizational Assessment/Audit

  • Youth Empowerment and Racial Equity Assessment and Recommendations
  • Organizational Coaching

Consultative Technical Assistance & Coaching

  • Youth Leadership Team Development
  • Recruitment and Retention of Youth Leaders
  • Application of the Racial Equity Approach to Youth Empowerment
  • Organizational Infrastructure to Support Youth of Color and their BIPOC Allies
  • Moving from Programs to Advocacy

Community & Regional Change

Focus: Youth Leaders

YES! for Equity youth staff train groups of youth to become competent community advocates to address the policy, systems, and environmental changes they would like to see happen in their communities.

Youth Leader Trainings

  • Structural Racism and Its Impact on Social, Environmental & Health Justice
  • Advocacy and Action Planning
  • Media Literacy, Campaign Messaging and Social Norming
  • Community Assessment and Asset Mapping

Youth Councils and Events

  • Advocacy Campaign Action Planning
  • Advocacy Event Hosting
  • Youth Conference and Summit Planning and Implementation

Community Organizing

  • Media Design and Advocacy
  • Consultation on Prepared Spaces for Effective Youth and Adult Partnerships
  • Establish or Enhance local or statewide civic engagement on Youth Councils
  • Advocacy Campaign Resource Development
  • Access to the YES! Youth Network of trained youth advocates

Youth-Led Movements

YES! for Equity focuses on engaging youth as community leaders to create solutions that penetrate the root causes of unjust issues that impact their lives and futures. We call their work ‘movements’ at PSE, the current Youth Leader Movements include:

These movements serve as a pipeline for the YES! for Equity Youth Staff - paid, part-time staff positions that facilitate peer-to-peer youth leader trainings and technical assistance for other youth leader teams across the American South. Historically, YES! employed over 100 youth staff, who have advocated to bring about policy, systems, and environmental changes in the issue areas of childhood obesity, healthy eating and active living, underage drinking, access to health care, tobacco use prevention, voter and civic engagement, environmental and climate justice. As members of PSE’s YES! for Equity Youth Staff, youth gain valuable work-based learning opportunities of participating in and leading the community systems change process. These opportunities include:

  • Researching an issue;
  • Organizing community support;
  • Advocating using social and traditional media and influencing policy makers.

This process leaves youth feeling more powerful in their own lives, more invested in their communities, and more equipped and motivated to pursue workforce opportunities and future success.