Engaging Youth and Families

At many of the SBHCs in middle and high schools, youth are the primary stakeholders. Youth engagement enhances quality and operations of SBHCs and is an opportunity for young people to become empowered about their health. The resources below can help you start and run school-based youth engagement programs.

At the same time, it is important that SBHCs reach out to families and community members. Visit our Family and Community Engagement page for resources to help you build and maintain these relationships.

Finally, with all stakeholders, it is important that SBHCs develop and display cultural humility. Visit our Cultural Humility page for resources and links to other organizations that can support you in this work.

Youth Engagement Resources

Lead the Way: Engaging Youth in School-Based Health Care

The national School-Based Health Alliance published a web-based toolkit on youth engagement in school-based health centers. Filled with information, tips, resources, and case studies, Lead the Way: Engaging Youth in School-Based Health Care offers support to any person or organization committed to upholding youth voice in school health.

Youth Engagement Process Schematic

We developed this Youth Engagement Process schematic to show the simplified steps to establishing, running, and maintaining a youth engagement program at an SBHC. The document includes recommended skills for adult allies, a list of leadership skills young people can develop in a strong youth engagement program, as well as a concise  youth engagement work plan. The schematic should be supplemented with additional resources and training on organizational and individual youth engagement practice.

Community Network for Youth Development

CNYD works to improve the quality of out-of-school programs for youth based on the youth development framework, a set of principles and practices for promoting healthy development. CNYD supports youth workers, agencies, and organizations trying to hone their youth development skills and programs. Visit the CNYD website for more information on resources, materials, and a menu of CNYD-facilitated trainings.

Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing

This collaborative effort of national, regional, and local grantmakers and youth organizers provides resources and tools for youth organizing organizations that draw from principles of community organizing. The Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing works to funnel funding toward youth organizing groups and support sustainable practices for such organizations. Check out their Tools and Resources for a comprehensive list of materials.

Inspiring Youth, Growing Change: Nurturing Strong Minds for a Healthy Community

The Network for a Healthy California created this report, on its multi-year Youth Engagement Initiative, to share ideas, lessons learned, and reflections with those who are interested in engaging youth to improve health and well-being. It includes descriptions of the projects, advice from the field, and a wide variety of case studies.

Scenarios USA

Scenarios USA is a nationwide nonprofit that uses writing and filmmaking to foster youth empowerment, self-efficacy, and advocacy. The organization coordinates an annual writing contest called “What’s the REAL DEAL?” to which teen applicants respond with creative insight into the most pressing issues affecting them. The winning writers are then partnered with some of Hollywood’s most notable filmmakers to produce short films that are screened across the country. Through their work, Scenarios USA promotes healthy relationships and meaningful youth engagement.


SparkAction is an online advocacy and journalism center by and for the child and youth field. The organization is a merger of Connect for Kids, Youth Policy Action Center and the National Youth Development Information Center. SparkAction promotes and produces stories, publications, data and interactive tools for all youth advocates.

The California Center for Civic Participation

This is a nonprofit, nonpartisan program whose mission is to engage youth in the democratic process by using sound youth development principles. This is accomplished by providing opportunities for middle and high school youth to participate in civic education, leadership, and service programs that directly connect to local, state, and federal issues. Follow the link to the website, The California Center for Civic Participation.

UCSF Research

Incorporating Youth-Led Community Participatory Research into School Health Center Programs and Policies. Training adolescents as student researchers is a strategy that can improve the delivery of care at school-based health centers and significantly shift school health policies impacting students. From 2003 to 2006, UC San Francisco, in partnership with Youth In Focus, implemented a participatory student research project to enhance the existing evaluation of the Alameda County SBHC Coalition and its participating clinic members, and to help develop and implement school health policies.

California Career Resource Network: Career Exploration Resources

Some of the most robust SBHC youth engagement programs offer long-term career and academic guidance to students. The California Career Resource Network (CalCRN) program of the California Department of Education (CDE) provides free and low-cost career exploration resources to middle and high schools in California. These resources can be used by anyone throughout the state. CalCRN’s website has links to all CalCRN resources and PDFs, with entry points for students, educators, as well as  job and career seekers.