What We Do

The Office on Youth believes that youth perspectives and partnership are key to achieving positive outcomes for youth. We work to create new ways for Durham youth to be decision-makers in local government. We also work to improve services and programs so they better support all young people in Durham ages 13-24 years.

We partner with many people to achieve these goals, including: young people and their families; City and County staff; elected officials; and community partners. Our work is guided by the priorities of a City-County “strategic youth initiative”, launched in December 2017 and renewed in 2022.   

Read more about this initiative and our work:

Our Vision

All young people in Durham are their whole, healthiest selves and have the power and platforms to lead positive community change.

Our Mission

  • We create new spaces and structures for Durham youth to be co-creators and decision-makers in local government.
  • We partner with Durham’s young people, their families, and other people who support youth. We work together to find ways that local government programs and systems can better support all young people ages 13-24 years

Key Initiatives

2023-2024 Durham Youth Leadership Fund pink/white banner overtop 6 young people of color at a table

2023-2024 Durham Youth Leadership Fund

The Durham Youth Leadership Fund (DYLF) was created in direct response to the needs and dreams we heard about during the Durham Youth Listening Project. The 2023-2024 DYLF will: create opportunities for young people to explore and find connection through art; enhance and support young people’s mental health and wellness; and curate new safe, welcoming, and supportive "third spaces" and places for young people.

 The DYLF application period ended in March 2023. Learn more about the program and read our 2021-2022 Impact Report!

Changed by Youth banner in pink and white, overlayed on picture of 15 young people of color smiling

Changed By Youth Ambassador Program

The Changed by Youth Ambassador Program helps support young people in decision-making and leadership roles within local government. OOY hires young people (15-22 years) to consult with local government and community organizations on different engagement, program, policy, and planning efforts in Durham. 

The CBY application period ended in August 2023. Learn more about the program and our upcoming 2023-2024 cohort!


Durham Youth Listening Project pink and white bannner overtop 8 youth of color smiling together

Durham Youth Listening Project

We set out to hear from Durham’s young people about their needs and dreams, and about what they think about the resources in their communities. See what they are recommending and read more about the project.

YODurham Text - a one-way text line for young people in Durham under 25

Connecting Young People to Resources

We are constantly thinking about how to connect young people to resources available to them, and we do this a variety of ways. We rely on our trusted network of youth service providers to share resources with the young people they serve. We also work with our youth ambassadors to boost resources to their youth networks. Here are two other ways we try to get the word out: 

  • YODurham Text Line for Young People: Young people in Durham can sign up for one-way text alerts about important resources available to them. Learn more.
  • Office on Youth Instagram Page! Follow us here.
screenshot of Sawubona zine cover

Amplifying the Experiences and Needs of Young People

We do our best to connect with young people to understand their current needs and experiences. We adapt and change what we’re prioritizing in response to what we learn, and partner with young people to amplify their experiences. This has been especially important to do during the COVID pandemic. Here are some examples of how we do this.

Youth Engagement Network pink and white banner on a blue background, w/group photo of smiling adults

Youth Engagement Network (for adults) 

We grow and nurture a large network of adults who work with and support young people in Durham. We’ve hosted a number of gatherings with youth service providers to talk about youth engagement and how we can create more youth leadership opportunities within organizations. 

We also host a resource-sharing listserv for providers, called the Youth Opportunities in Durham (YODurham) Listserv. If you are an adult who works with and supports young people under 25 years in Durham, sign up for the listserv here.

Painting of green tree, set to a blue sky and rollings hills: Youth artist paints their dream Durham

Consultation to City, County, and Community Partners

We advise departments and community partners on how to create authentic youth engagement opportunities in their organizations. We help them create welcoming spaces and systems that share decision-making power with young people. We also help connect young people to these opportunities and support them so they can be successful in their leadership roles. 

We are currently collaborating with the departments involved in EngageDurham, as well as several other departments and organizations.

Youth Services Listing written in pink and white text on a blue background

Inventories of Durham’s Youth Services

We maintain a listing of the many services and programs supported by the City of Durham and Durham County. See the list here.

Durham County hosts the Durham Network of Care, an online inventory of 1000s of resources in Durham. Check out their Youth Services page.