How to start a youth empowerment program

Youth empowerment programs are a great way to help young people. They help develop skills, confidence, and provide relevant support to succeed in life. This lets young people realize their full potential and actively participate in society as self-reliant, engaged, and responsible citizens.

These programs can be started by governments, communities, schools or private sector entities. Often an empowerment program has a specific focus group, for example at-risk youth, marginalized communities, or those in underprivileged circumstances. An empowerment program helps them change in their own lives and their communities.

Three youngsters in NY wearing business suites, to illustrate empowered youth.

What is a youth empowerment program

There are many ways to support youth with an empowerment program:


Many youth engagement programs pair young people with an adult mentor who provides guidance, support, and advice. The mentor serves as a role model and helps the young person develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed.

These programs often focus on helping young people develop the leadership skills. These will come in handy when they need to take on leadership roles in their communities. This can include training in communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. It can also be an opportunity to explore entrepreneurship, job readiness, and employment opportunities.

Personal development 

Promoting self-confidence, self-esteem, and emotional intelligence can help youth navigate challenges and build resilience. This kind of programs can also address physical and mental health concerns and promote a healthy lifestyle.

More formal programs can addess education, vocational training, and workshops to enhance academic, technical, and life skills.

Civic engagement

Encouraging youth to actively participate in civic activities, volunteerism, and community service helps them become active and responsible citizens. They can start early to advocate for their rights and promote social justice. All of this will raise awareness about important issues that affect their lives and communities.

How to start a youth empowerment program

✅ Research the needs and challenges faced by the youth in your target area. Conduct surveys, interviews, and focus groups to gather valuable insights and data to inform your program design.

✅ Assemble a team of passionate individuals who share your vision and have the skills and expertise needed to run the program successfully. Roles may include educators, mentors, counselors, and administrative staff.

✅ Design a curriculum that aligns with your program’s goals and addresses the needs of the youth. Include workshops, training sessions, mentoring programs, and hands-on activities to promote personal development and skill-building.

✅ Reach out to local organizations, NGOs, educational institutions, and government agencies that share a similar mission. Collaborate with them to pool resources, share knowledge, and gain support. Additionally, explore funding opportunities through grants, sponsorships, or crowdfunding.

✅ Create a marketing and outreach strategy to attract participants, volunteers, and potential supporters. Utilize social media, local events, and community networks to spread the word about your program.

Running a youth empowerment program

The main challenge of running a youth program is engaging and retaining young participants. It’s no secret that young people have a lot of different interests and distractions. It can be really tough to keep their attention for long periods of time. But as a program leader, you want to keep them engaged in the program and ensure that they continue to participate.

Young people can sometimes exhibit challenging behavior. This can include everything from minor infractions like talking out of turn to more serious issues like bullying or violence. As a program leader, it’s important to have clear rules and consequences in place to manage these behaviors. It is important to create a safe and positive environment for all participants.

Youth gamification is a successful way to keep the program moving in a positive direction. With some healthy competition, the group will self-adjust and follow the game rules set by leadership.