Youth engagement is a shift in thinking that challenges us to look at youth differently and include their voices and input into plans, strategies, and services to support them. Successful youth engagement strategies take a view of youth not as being “at risk,” or a set of problems to be fixed, but as resilient, resourceful people who can partner with adults in a joint effort to solve community problems.
There are many opportunities for youth to engage with TNOYS— from storytelling and the chance to join our Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC), to opportunities on TNOYS’ staff. Our Youth Engagement Roadmap illustrates the many ways we work with young people.
Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC)
The YALC is TNOYS’ flagship, 12-month leadership development program open to youth
and young adults ages 16 – 25 who have lived experience in systems such as foster care, housing and homelessness services, and juvenile justice. Learn more about the YALC here.
Texas Emerging Leaders Board (TELB)
The Texas Emerging Leaders Board (TELB) is a 12-month, paid leadership experience geared towards “Opportunity Youth,” or young people who have experienced a disconnection from school and/or work. TELB members are required to have first completed a youth leadership development program such as TNOYS’ Young Adult Leadership Council. As TELB members, participants use their leadership skills to advise on the creation of better pathways to career and academic success for systems-impacted youth and young adults.
TNOYS believes that youth-serving organizations play a critical role in promoting youth engagement. Often youth and their families know best what they need and how to make services work for them, and incorporating youth voice and youth-adult partnerships can help make youth service organizations stronger and more relevant.
Youth engagement happens most effectively when youth are empowered and involved at multiple levels, from service provision to evaluation to policy development. TNOYS provides its members and other organizations with tools and resources to help make that happen, including our Youth Engagement Toolkit, a compilation of materials and resources for organizations looking to launch or enhance their youth engagement efforts.
TNOYS’ trainings and conferences promote youth involvement, and when possible include youth speakers and presenters. TNOYS also has several major projects and programs focused on youth engagement, including our annual PEAKS Camp, and the biennial Youth in Action Capitol Day.