YouthACT Team Profiles

Introduction to the YouthACT Team Profiles

The Youth Action Council on Transition (YouthACT) is a national initiative to get more youth with disabilities and their allies involved as leaders who partner with adults and organizations to improve opportunities for youth to succeed in life. “Transition” is the process and period of change that youth go through to become adults. Transition typically occurs between ages 12 and 25. During transition, youth need a variety of opportunities and supports to learn and develop skills and experience, set and achieve goals, and make personal decisions about school, work, and life.

Many organizations and government agencies are responsible for helping youth transition to adulthood. These include schools, employment and training programs, afterschool and recreation programs, health and mental health services, housing programs, disability services, courts and juvenile justice agencies, and child welfare and foster care programs. Too often, youth do not have a voice when agencies and organizations are deciding what youth services and opportunities to offer. It is important for agencies and organizations to hear from youth about what they need and want during the transition years so they can provide the right opportunities, services, and supports. For this reason, YouthACT aims to increase positive youth-adult partnerships where young people and adults work together, share power, and support and learn from each other to build stronger communities. All individuals in the partnership have the opportunity to engage in planning, decision-making, and action consistent with their own interests and skills.

YouthACT works with youth to develop skills and knowledge in leadership and advocacy so they can speak up about what all youth need to be successful during transition to adulthood. YouthACT also supports youth in learning how to partner with adults and work with peers as a team to advocate for improving youth opportunities and services in their local communities. YouthACT teams consist of two youth, an adult partner, and a supporting organization, which must have a designated supporting organization contact. At least one of the youth must have a disability or chronic health condition to ensure that youth with disabilities are included as leaders along with their allies. Adult partners work in partnership and share equal responsibility and decision-making with the two youth team members. The organization contact is committed to supporting the YouthACT team and increasing youth voice and leadership within the supporting organization, as well as providing resources like meeting spaces to the team.

YouthACT has had three cohorts of teams chosen through a competitive application process that each served two-year terms. The profiles feature Cohort 2 (2014-2016) and Cohort 3 (2015-2017) teams. Cohort 1 teams acted before the creation of these profiles, and their valuable contributions helped lay the foundation for later cohorts. Since teams started at different times, they are at different stages in their development and accomplishments. The teams work on transition related issues in their communities, promote youth voice, and develop a peer network. They also work together on some national YouthACT projects, like the following NCWD/Youth publications that the cohorts wrote together with support from YouthACT staff: By Youth For Youth: EmploymentHitting the Open Road: How to Choose Your Own Adventure to Success, and A Young Person's Guide to Healthcare Transition

In their own words, the YouthACT teams describe each of their team members and their supporting organization. The teams also share their activities in YouthACT, which they outlined twice each year with action plans. They also offer advice and tips for other youth and youth-serving organizations on building a peer network, promoting youth voice, and bringing about positive change in the community. Finally, they reflect on their time in YouthACT, the importance of youth-adult partnerships, and what they plan to do following their two year commitment with YouthACT.

YouthACT is led by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). 

Team Profiles

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