Youth Leadership & Advocacy Network
Facilitating network activities, collective actions, training, and the dissemination of information relevant to the success of Baltimore’s young people.
In 2014, the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health decided to strengthen its capacity to support youth development and leadership by expanding its, then, Youth Advisory Committee. The Center’s goal was to create a citywide youth leadership network, designed to connect youth leaders across the city and assist them in leveraging resources to empower their voice in the decision-making processes that impact their well-being and healthy transition to adulthood.
Launched in 2014, the Youth Leadership & Advocacy Network (YLAN) began as a partnership with the Mayor’s Youth Commission, a body of youth and young adult leaders that represent the City’s 14 Council Districts, whose purpose is to inform the Mayor and City Council of the youth related concerns and needs of the City’s youth; make recommendations as representations of youth in their districts to the Mayor and City Council; and support youth related policies and activities throughout the City, especially those sponsored by the Mayor.
Other members of the initial network were youth representing well-known youth-led organizations which had long awaited an opportunity to work in collaboration with City government and established institutions such as Johns Hopkins.
Today the Youth Leadership & Advocacy Network is comprised of 45+ member organizations and individuals dedicated to collaboration and resource sharing in order to impact three defined areas of interest: Youth Opportunity, Youth Violence Prevention and Education Relevancy and Application.
- Youth Opportunity: the network seeks to positively impact youth employment and career exposure through recommendations to enhance YouthWorks, Baltimore City’s Youth Summer Jobs Program and through planning and implementation of college fairs, career fairs, and mentoring supports.
- Youth Violence Prevention: the network works hard to support the annual Youth Violence Prevention activities throughout the city, and to provide youth-led solutions to issues such as school climate, community violence, and the social determinants of youth-related crime such as lack of afterschool programming, mentoring supports, and meaningful service learning options and peer education opportunities for older adolescents to work with younger adolescents. Youth Violence Prevention also includes advocacy for greater mental health supports in schools and in communities for youth; fitness and stress management services and supports and advocacy on healthy food choices in communities.
- Education Relevancy and Application: the network membership believes that one of the greatest impacts on decreasing drop-out, increasing school connectedness and empowering students to be lifelong learners is to provide opportunities for young people to make connections between the core subjects they learn in school and the careers they aspire to achieve. This is done through internship opportunities, college preparation and exposure, school day and school based field trips to partnering organizations that provide real-life application of skills learned and project-based opportunities that help demonstrate learning and inspire students.