Youth Empowerment Solutions for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Appreciation and Solidarity (YES-IDEAS) is an adaptation of an evidence-based program (Youth Empowerment Solutions, or YES) that empowers youth to make positive changes in their communities and to work with adults to support their efforts. The goal of YES-IDEAS is to empower youth to address racism and racial discrimination as a way to reduce violent behavior.
YES-IDEAS focuses on middle school students, as this is a developmental period when independence from parents begins, their own ideas about interpersonal relationships are formative, and when bullying behavior is at its peak. Empowering youth to address violence at this critical developmental period may enable them to overcome negative attitudes and behaviors, such as racial prejudice and racism. Working with an advisory board of experts and youth, we integrate the Learning For Justice – formerly Teaching Tolerance (TT) – curriculum from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) into the existing YES Curriculum.
We are testing YES-IDEAS using a group-randomized trial design in summer programs across 6 middle schools in Genesee County, Michigan, in order to examine the effects of the curriculum on individual youths’ sense of empowerment, racist beliefs and behaviors, and youth violence. We are also evaluating the revisions of the curriculum through testing specific modules and obtaining feedback from youth and school staff. Finally, we are examining both dose and sustainability of YES-IDEAS effects.
The aims of this project are to:
- Adapt the YES curriculum to include the LFJ curriculum and study the adaptation and implementation process for the new curriculum.
- Test the efficacy of the YES-IDEAS curriculum in supporting youths’ empowered outcomes.
- Test a mediation model in which the YES-IDEAS curriculum predicts empowerment, which in turn relates to lower levels of racism perpetration, aggressive, and violent behavior.
- Study the effects of dose received and sustainability of change on the outcomes from aims 2 and 3.
The YES-IDEAS curriculum includes active learning lessons on teamwork, identity, the history of social change movements, and activities such as self-portraits and photovoice. The curriculum builds toward the planning and implementation of a student-led community change project. Past YES projects have included painting a mural, building a community garden, and recording a song.