Youth Empowerment Center

youth empowerment center

A center connecting young people and their families to a network of services.

The Youth Empower Center (YEC) is a shared vision of Denver's young people and community-based organizations, which will offer a unique and safe space for youth and their families to access support services ranging from workforce development, vocational and entrepreneurial training, education, mental health, recreational activities, wrap-around services and youth violence prevention.

Current Status of the Center

Through a competitive request for proposal (RFP) process, the city will release a request for proposals in September 2021 to select said vendor for operation of the space. An operations vendor will be selected by early November. In collaboration with youth, city agencies and community-based organizations, OCA will then create a long-term oversight committee which will work with the vendor operator to ensure that wrap-around/trauma-informed programming continues to resonate with youth and families in the community.

Programs and Services Provided

A Youth Empowerment Center would include services for families and/or caregivers with the bulk of available services intended to serve youth between the ages of 12 – 24. 

The Youth Empowerment Center model addresses protective factors the city aims to build, recognizing that safe community spaces and protective community environments are at the core of that effort. For that reason, OCA has developed a process that is youth informed, community- led and City supported: to design programs, recruit and engage youth, and design trauma- informed services that remain relevant to young people. Through this partnership model, we will achieve: (1) stronger representation of the young people and families we aim to serve; 2) gain trust from young people who see authentic, youth-centered services being delivered in their communities, and (3) the strengthening of caring adult relationships.

A Public Health Approach to Youth Violence

Since 2019, Denver has implemented a public health approach to youth violence in Denver through a large, multi-sector coalition supported by Mayor Hancock called the Youth Violence Prevention Action Table (YVPAT). This group was encouraged to take a public health approach because it aligned with two core values. The first is that by tracking trends and understanding the issue, collectively, we can make an impact. The second is that the issue of youth violence has root causes that far precede an incident; rather, it is the nature and structure of communities, the assets and barriers youth experience, and the normalization of violence that also need to be addressed if we are to make a meaningful impact.

Strategies for Youth Violence Prevention

Recently, the YVPAT released its Comprehensive Strategy 20201, which outlines the public health approach and specific strategies this coalition will take to addressing youth violence prevention. In partnership with YVPAT, The Office of Children’s Affairs (OCA) now serves as the anchor organization to support the strategies developed by YVPAT. These strategies are meant to be used in combination and across sectors to prevent youth violence before it starts and to support protective community environments that reduce exposure to community-level risks.

About the Building

The roughly 9,600-square-foot building is located on the southwest corner of Bayaud Avenue and S. Platte River Dr, just northwest of Alameda and I-25. The building is less than one mile from Alameda Light Rail Station and within three blocks of RTD bus routes 3 and 4. The proximity to transit helps to mitigate some of the potential transportation barriers for youth.