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.   

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

Group image of youth ambassadors

Changed By Youth Ambassador Program

The Changed by Youth Ambassador Program (CBY) was created in 2021 in direct response to what young people shared during the Durham Youth Listening Project. CBY builds on the City of Durham’s long legacy of having an established cohort of young people who have a formal role in the City’s planning and decision-making processes. The CBY cohort is made of 15 young people ages 15-22 who live, work, learn and play in Durham. Learn more about the CBY and what ambassadors do in their positions.

group of young people sit around a table

2021-2022 Durham Youth Leadership Fund

The DYLF is a direct response to the needs and dreams we heard about during the Durham Youth Listening Project. With support from Durham County and the City of Durham, a total of $136,000 was awarded to 13 community organizations and groups to: create meaningful leadership and decision making opportunities for young people; create welcoming and supportive places for young people and their families; and respond to current COVID-19 needs. Learn more about the Fund and awarded projects.

Youth Listening Project Report thumbnail shows group of young people

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.
Decorative image from youth zine

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

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.

Participatory Budgeting team

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, and Participatory Budgeting, as well as several other departments and organizations.

Youth Services Listings

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.