a year-round educational employment program for underserved teenagers
Youth Ambassadors provides trauma-informed programming for Greater Kansas City youth (ages 14-18) through social emotional learning, trauma healing, and anti-violence programming. Our youth receive specialized training in Health & Wellness, Youth Entrepreneurship, Community Development, Life & Job Skills, and Creative Expression. Ambassadors who have mastered social emotional learning curriculum are promoted to participate in paid work on community impact projects and internships. Our Teen Empowerment Project helps youth strengthen existing skills and uncover hidden talents, while unlocking their potential to serve as impactful citizens and future leaders of Greater Kansas City.
Specialty Activities include, expressive art and writing projects, violence prevention workshops (focusing on teen dating violence, restorative justice, conflict resolution and community violence), building employment portfolios, participating in mock job interviews with career professionals, and leading public conversations on major issues impacting our communities.
Examples of community impact projects include maintaining community gardens in food deserts, public art murals, neighborhood clean-ups, leadership on community health initiatives, and revitalizing urban green spaces.
Youth Ambassadors provides strength-based programming during the school year on Saturdays. Our team uses small-sized training groups, with a teen/instructor ratio of 10:1 to facilitate positive and impactful youth/adult mentor relationships.
Summer programming at Youth Ambassadors occurs during the week from Monday – Thursday through a six-to-eight week summer program session. Teens develop and grow their skills through project-based training activities in collaboration with civic leaders and community members throughout Greater Kansas City.
Our work is bolstered by the use of an evidence-based, nationally recognized, social emotional learning curriculum, SPARK™, which is endorsed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). SPARK™ is provided to all youth engaged in YA programming.
Teens participating in our Group Chat programming get support for their emotional wellbeing and mental health. Group Chat curriculum is guided by licensed child clinicians using the evidence-based intervention model Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress (SPARCS) using Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), an established method of applying mindfulness meditation to stop the cycle of recurring anxiety and depression. Youth can obtain up to six individual therapy sessions as needed or by referral, all free of charge.
Our S.A.V.E. Program (Suicide and Anti-Violence Education) is provided to youth in partnership with the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department. The S.A.V.E. Program is a youth- led peer-to-peer violence prevention mentor program where youth learn the devastating impact of violence in our communities using evidence-based curriculum and materials. YA collaborates with child health experts, community members, civic leaders, and anti-violence content experts, to help teens identify the potential for violence in social situations, learn how to report violence once it occurs, and de-escalate conflict in a safe and effective manner.
Through the S.A.V.E. program, our youth participate in youth-led, monthly anti-violence workshops and an annual PEACE Teen Summit where they discuss issues such as teen dating violence, restorative justice, suicide prevention, conflict resolution, and community violence prevention in collaboration with community partners such as the Center for Conflict Resolution, Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA), Higher M-Pact, KC Common Good, Soul Purpose Counseling LLC, and the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project. In 2021 the S.A.V.E. program reached approximately 77,000 individuals through targeted anti-violence messaging on social media.
Our Group Chat program provides increased access to mental health services that support psychological well-being for our teens. Group chat sessions are led by licensed child therapists using an evidence-based intervention model. The goal of Group Chat is to support youth who are seeking to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Our youth can take advantage of up to six individual therapy sessions as needed or by referral, all free of charge.
Youth Ambassadors outcomes are strengthened through three intertwined paths designed to address the whole student: Social Emotional Learning Competencies, 21st Century Transportable Skills Training, and Social Support. In 2021…
*Evidenced by a 1 point increase on the Social Emotional Assets and Resiliences Scales- Adolescents (SEARS-A) when measuring self regulation, social competency, responsibility, and empathy