The mission of the Partnership for Youth is to promote the health and well-being of teens in the Franklin County and North Quabbin region. PFY collaborates with school and community partners to establish and support effective youth development and health-promotion programs, provide training and technical assistance with emphasis on evidence-based practices, and involve and empower youth.
What PFY does:
promote the use of evidence-based practices and environmental strategies,
conduct surveys and evaluate programs, and
provide technical assistance and coordinate events.
PFY serves as the “backbone organization” for local community coalitions, coordinating the actions of many agencies and individuals. Working through coalitions for more than a decade, PFY has received national recognition for its successful use of a “Collective Impact” approach, including mentions in the Stanford Innovation Review and in Collective Impact Forum publications.
Communities That Care Coalition PFY co-hosts the Communities That Care Coalition (CTC) with Community Action Youth Programs. CTC brings together youth, parents, schools, community agencies, and local governments to promote the health and well-being of our young people. CTC has a long-standing focus on substance abuse prevention, and has seen substantial declines in youth alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use over the 15 years of its existence. In 2011, CTC added an initiative to promote improved nutrition and increased physical activity as part of the MA Department of Public Health statewide Mass in Motion program. In 2016, CTC launched its Youth Leadership Initiative to expand youth involvement in the Coalition itself and in the policy work of the Coalition. Details about Coalition’s structure, activities and achievements are available on the CTC website.
Mass Grad Coalition PFY works with local school districts and with state and community-based social service providers to increase collaboration between schools and community providers and improve systems for early intervention. The Mass Grad Coalition came together in 2013 with support from a MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education dropout-prevention grant, and though it no longer receives state funding, it continues to meet quarterly.
As background for its work, the Coalition commissioned a study to better understand why local young people drop out of school, and worked with local filmmaker Ali Pinschmidt to create a video-mediated dialogue between youth who had dropped out of school and school teachers, counselors and administrators. Ali produced a 35 minute film with excerpts from the dialogue as a tool to facilitate discussion about students dropping out of school in a rural community. A trailer is available here. To see the full video, click on the image to the left, and enter the password “Help2StayInSchool”.
Promoting the Use of Evidence-based Practices & Environmental Strategies
Evidence-based programs offer proven ways to promote health and prevent problem behaviors. PFY follows the research about what works in prevention and shares that information with partners conducting programs in the community. For example, PFY is currently supporting local schools in implementation of the LifeSkills curriculum, a program proven to reduce rates of substance use and violence. PFY, with funding from the Opioid Task Force and Baystate Franklin Medical Center, organizes LifeSkills teacher trainings and hosts the Western Mass LifeSkills Training Network blog and Twitter feed.
PFY’s report, “Healthy Bodies, Active Minds,” highlights evidence-based practices schools can adopt to improve nutrition and boost physical activity among their students. Accompanying the report is an inventory of these best practices being implemented in local schools. PFY is currently working on a similar report surveying school policies and practices with respect to substance use.
Environmental strategies are designed to change the context in which people make choices that affect their health. PFY promotes the use of these strategies to influence community conditions, norms, systems and policies. For example, PFY provides information to municipal governments to support decision-making on issues that affect local youth, such as regulations about tobacco and marijuana. Another type of environmental strategy that is an area of PFY expertise is social norms marketing, which promotes actual healthy norms (determined in a survey) to correct misperceptions about the prevalence of unhealthy behaviors. Find examples of PFY’s social norms marketing materials here.
Conducting Surveys & Evaluating Programs
Teen Health Survey. Each year since 2003, PFY has surveyed 8th, 10th and 12th graders in nine local school districts to track trends in teen health. The results help determine programming, secure funding, and educate parents, students and community members. Survey results are posted on the CTC website.
Evaluation. In keeping with its commitment to evidence-based practices, PFY evaluates its efforts so as to deepen support for programs and policies that work and make adjustments to efforts that that are not showing results.
Providing Technical Assistance and Coordinating Events
Technical Assistance. PFY staff members are part of the Massachusetts Technical Assistance Partnership for Prevention (MassTAPP). This team provides technical assistance, training, and resource materials to substance abuse prevention coalitions throughout the Commonwealth, and helps to build peer connections among coalitions.
Events. PFY organizes trainings and events for prevention practitioners, alcohol vendors and servers, school personnel, and for the community.