The Youth Catalyst Team (YCT) is a group of young leaders from across the country who are COMMITTED to using their knowledge, skills, and insights, in addition to their lived experience to improve program practices, and to inform and further mobilize the youth services field. MANY and the Center for Combating Human Trafficking (CCHT) at Wichita State University, partner with these young people to enhance direct training and technical assistance, promote youth/young adult leadership endeavors, and develop tools and resources that make a positive and tangible impact for youth and families across the country.
Youth Catalysts are paid consultants doing incredibly important work to prevent and end youth trafficking, abuse, exploitation, and homelessness, and to increase positive outcomes for young people.
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What Is The Youth Catalyst Team (YCT)?
The YCT is a group of young people from across the country who are COMMITTED to using their unique perspective, insight, and lived experiences to help advance and inform the youth services field. The applicants selected as Youth Catalysts (YC) will operate as paid consultants for this project, partnering with MANY and the Center for Combating Human Trafficking at Wichita State University to enhance training, technical assistance, and support for organizations serving youth experiencing commercial sexual exploitation, homelessness and those at high risk.
Who can be a YCT member?
(Applicants must be able to check ALL boxes.)
- A young person ages 16-24
- Have lived experience (lived experience is defined as experiences of homelessness and/or commercial sexual exploitation in their past.)
- Applicants will be identified through Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention MCSEC grantees and providers of Runaway and Homeless Youth services through the Administration of Children and Families
- Able to commit to at least 1 year with YCT
- Able to commit to attending 1 in-person meeting in late spring (date to be determined).
- Have access to a computer and internet for 3-6 virtual meetings per year (stipends will be provided for each meeting)
- Have proper identification (as needed for travel) or can obtain it
- Have local connection for support (a trusted adult or mentor) and a point person from the nominating agency that will follow up
- Although sharing of your name and picture is not required, YCT members will need to be comfortable with the possibility that their photo and name may become public through their participation at national events
Who are we looking for?
The selection committee will consider the following criteria when filling the 8 YCT positions:
- Ability to take on job responsibilities. Responsibilities might include assisting in leading trainings, writing blog posts, researching information, reviewing documents, offering feedback, etc.
- Current stability of life situation and personal well-being
- Support network that includes a trusted adult that will support your success in the YCT
- Quality completed application
- Motivation to and vision for your participation and contributions to YCT
How will a decision be made?
The selection committee will consider the following in finalizing the 8 YCT members:
- Does the applicant meet the eligibility requirements?
- Does the applicant meet the criteria?
- Ensure YCT is diverse in geography, identities, life experience, etc.
When will a decision be made?
Decisions will be made by 4/6. Applicants and agencies will be notified whether or not they were selected for YCT using the contact information on their application.
Interested young people not selected for YCT are invited to remain engaged in the work and will be considered for other leadership opportunities.
How will young people be notified?
Applicants will be notified using the contact information on their application. (If this information changes, please encourage the applicant to notify your agency and/or MANY staff and YCT Facilitator, Kendan Elliott.)
What if the young person or our agency has questions?
Why nominate young people for YCT?
- YCT members will have an opportunity, along with other young people, to influence, contribute and advance the work done with youth in programs across the country!
- Positive Youth Development opportunities for YCT members:
- Expand their influence and connections in the youth services field
- Assist programs in developing tools and practices that will truly make an impact on youth and families
- Develop their skills to be a Subject Matter Expert (SME). SME’s are paid consultants that provide training and technical assistance to programs, organizations, and individuals to improve youth services
- Build a network of relationships with other young leaders from across the country who are interested in advancing youth programs and services
- Opportunity for your agency:
- The chance to facilitate a national development opportunity for young people you serve at no cost to your agency
- Benefit from the local and national work being done by YCT
What is the agency’s responsibility?
Support the young person’s involvement by:
- Checking in regarding their YCT experience
- Asking the young person about how they are feeling about their participation
- Asking the young person which tools or supports they need to advance their work with YCT
- Helping them navigate any barriers that may get in the way of fully participating in YCT (transportation, computer access, etc.)
- An agency may assist directly or indirectly (i.e. brainstorming solutions, offering support, identifying community resources). Helping young people determine how to overcome obstacles is a key component of positive youth development
How does our agency know a young person is ready for YCT?
YCT is designed to facilitate leadership opportunities for youth who have overcome traumatic events and situations (such as sexual exploitation and/or homelessness). Empowerment is powerful in facilitating the healing process, but it is important to recognize that healing looks different for each individual (Countryman-Roswurm & Patton Brackin, 2017). To ensure that YCT involvement is empowering and not exploitive for members, it is important that your agency consider the young person’s level of readiness before they complete an application. These some additional things your agency should consider:
- What is my motivation for nominating this young person for YCT?
- What are the benefits for the young person and the agency’s involvement with the YCT? Is there a greater benefit for the young person or my agency?
- Where is the young person in their healing process? Will reflecting on their experiences cause emotional harm or be re-traumatizing?
- Any sharing, no matter how far a young person has come on their personal healing journey, might be difficult. Does our agency have the capacity to help process / reflect upon YCT events or activities?
- Is the young person developmentally, mentally, and emotionally able to consider the benefits and risks of being a YCT member (having others know that they have experienced homelessness or sexual exploitation)?
- Is the young person aware of the potential short and long-term impacts?
- Do they have the emotional and social support needed to work through challenges that may emerge? ( i.e. change in living arrangement, job, family situation)
- Does the young person feel pressured to participate in the YCT in any way or feel that they owe it to the agency? Do they feel they can say “no” and not disappoint someone?
- Is our agency able/willing to support the young person in his/her/their YCT work?
- Does the young person understand they will NOT be asked to tell their story? YCT is looking for young people to share their personal expertise, vision, and skills to impact the youth services field.
Note to the agency: We recognize that YCT is an exciting opportunity, and it is important that young people know they are freely choosing to participate. We are committed to ensuring that YCT is non-exploitive and self-empowering experience, where young people know can say “no” and not let someone down.
What if I know someone who would be a great fit?
- Explain the YCT opportunity (including the required in-person meeting/training) and provide them with the information.
- Review the purpose and requirements with the young person.
- If the young person is interested, email Kendan Elliott a brief statement explaining why they would be a good candidate and ask them to fill out the application online.
- Work with the young person to identify a Collab-Coach. Collab-Coaches will also complete a brief application.
- A Collab-Coach is a trusted adult mentor who collaborates, coaches, and supports the young person’s work on the Youth Catalyst Team. Collab-Coaches may provide support through brainstorming, encouragement, and reinforcing strengths and abilities. In addition, they may be asked to assist the young person with problem-solving and preparing for travel. Collab-Coaches will travel to the in-person meeting (date TBD) with Youth Catalysts.
- Encourage the young person to start thinking about how they would like to help improve youth services if selected for YCT.
YC Team Application
YCT Collab-Coach Application