essense_david1Our Mission

To promote positive youth development by increasing the effectiveness of youth workers, youth-serving organizations, and youth leaders throughout Connecticut.

Our Goals

  • To advocate for an approach to youth work which is based on the strengths of youth, thereby promoting quality services and effective policies on youth issues;
  • To promote youth development and youth work as a viable profession;
  • To provide leadership in youth development training and technical assistance.

Our Approach to Youth Development

Adolescence is the critical period between childhood and adulthood. Young people must gain the social skills, values, competencies, and attitudes that will allow them to make positive life choices, or their future potential may be limited. We believe that young people are most likely to succeed in life if they are given opportunities to become actively involved in leadership roles – whether at home, in school, in community programs, or in faith-based activities.

Every community should seek to promote a full set of youth competencies, including:

  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Intellectual ability
  • Employability
  • Civic and social ability
  • Cultural ability

These abilities are best nurtured through caring and supportive relationships with a number of adults who serve as positive role models, meaning not just parents or family members or just their teachers. It is our belief that positive youth development for all young people in a community can only occur if the entire community is committed to seeing that all young people are fully developed and prepared for adulthood.

ydmodelA healthy community recognizes young people’s talents, abilities, strengths, and skills, and assures that these abilities are used for the common good of the whole community. Young people know their needs and must have opportunities to do their part in creating a healthier community. It is essential to utilize young people as resources and as vital contributors in their local neighborhoods and the larger community.

Community youth-serving organizations are essential if developmental outcomes are to be achieved for all young people. Community programs are dedicated to the overall development of young people, and are a powerful connector to the diverse youth and family members residing in New Haven. These frontline youth workers and community volunteers keep young people engaged in healthy activities and connected to a wide range of positive experiences. It is critical that young people are supported to develop both a strong personal identity and multiple areas of ability. Rather than just “problem free”, our young people must be fully prepared, developed and engaged productively throughout their own local community.