What We Do

The Office on Youth believes that youth perspectives and partnership are key to achieving positive outcomes for youth. We work to create new ways for Durham youth to be decision-makers in local government. We also work to improve services and programs so they better support all children and youth in Durham ages 5-24 years.

We partner with many people to achieve these goals, including: young people and their families; City and County staff; elected officials; and community partners. Our work is guided by the priorities of a City-County “strategic youth initiative”, launched in December 2017.   

Hear and read more about this initiative and our work:

Our Vision

All young people in Durham are their whole, healthiest selves and have the power and platforms to lead positive community change.

Our Mission

  • We create new spaces and structures for Durham youth to be co-creators and decision-makers in local government.
  • We partner with Durham’s young people, their families, and other people who support youth. We work together to find ways that local government programs and systems can better support all children and youth ages 5-24 years

Key Initiatives

Youth Listening Project Report thumbnail shows group of young people

Durham Youth Listening Project

We set out to hear from Durham’s young people about their needs and dreams, and about what they think about the resources in their communities. See what they are recommending and read more about the project.

Durham Youth Commission

Durham Youth Commission

We support the Durham Youth Commission, a group of 15 high school-aged young people. They act as a bridge, linking Durham’s decision makers and Durham’s youth, and they lead advocacy projects to address barriers youth face. Learn more about the Commission.

YODurham Text - a one-way text line for young people in Durham under 25

Connecting Young People to Resources

We are constantly thinking about how to connect young people to resources available to them, and we do this a variety of ways. We rely on our trusted network of youth service providers to share resources with the young people they serve. We also work with the Durham Youth Commission and our youth ambassadors to boost resources to their youth networks. Here are two other ways we try to get the word out: 

  • YODurham Text Line for Young People: Young people in Durham can sign up for one-way text alerts about important resources available to them. Learn more.
  • Office on Youth Instagram Page! Follow us here.
Decorative image from youth zine

Amplifying the Experiences and Needs of Young People

We do our best to connect with young people to understand their current needs and experiences. We adapt and change what we’re prioritizing in response to what we learn, and partner with young people to amplify their experiences. This has been especially important to do during the COVID pandemic. Here are some examples of how we do this.

group of young people sit around a table

New Community Grant Funding Program (to be launched Spring 2021)

We’re excited to be working on a new grant funding program, which is part of Durham County’s non-profit funding program. The Office on Youth will launch the new program in Spring 2021, and funded projects will run from July 2021 – June 2022. We’ll be looking to fund initiatives, led by community based organizations and groups, that will help us move forward the recommendations from the Youth Listening Project.

For updates: check back here in April 2021; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; join our YODurham Listserv (for adults who work with and support youth under 25 years in Durham); and join our YODurham Textline (for young people under 25 years in Durham).  

Youth Engagement Network

Youth Engagement Network (for adults) 

We grow and nurture a large network of adults who work with and support young people in Durham. We’ve hosted a number of gatherings with youth service providers to talk about youth engagement and how we can create more youth leadership opportunities within organizations. 

We also host a resource-sharing listserv for providers, called the Youth Opportunities in Durham (YODurham) Listserv. If you are an adult who works with and supports young people under 25 years in Durham, sign up for the listserv here.

Participatory Budgeting team

Consultation to City, County, and Community Partners

We advise departments and community partners on how to create authentic youth engagement opportunities in their organizations. We help them create welcoming spaces and systems that share decision-making power with young people. We also help connect young people to these opportunities and support them so they can be successful in their leadership roles. 

We are currently collaborating with the departments involved in EngageDurham, and Participatory Budgeting, as well as several other departments and organizations.

Youth Services Listings

Inventories of Durham’s Youth Services

We maintain a listing of the many services and programs supported by the City of Durham and Durham County. See the list here.

Durham County hosts the Durham Network of Care, an online inventory of 1000s of resources in Durham. Check out their Youth Services page.