Select Page

Durham Strategic Plan Dashboard

Shared Economic

Create a Safer Community Together

Connected, Engaged, and Inclusive Communities

Innovative and High Performing Organization

Thriving and Vibrant Environment

Status Indicator: In Progress | On Hold | Complete/Ongoing

Initiative: 3.12 Create and amplify youth leadership and decision-making in local government and throughout Durham

Connected, Engaged, & Inclusive Communities


Young people are key constituents in Durham, making up ~30% of the population (CHA 2020). They experience Durham as fully as adults do, with their own unique perspectives. Yet they are chronically excluded from decision making spaces, tokenized, and very rarely given any real decision-making power. We need intention and explicitly tailored strategies that create opportunities for young people to engage in community decision making. We will support young people ages 13-24 and adult City and County staff and community partners in building these opportunities, and in celebrating the experiences and work of young people across Durham. We will continue to center young people whose identities are most excluded.


Key Measures & Data Analysis

This year we have been able to surpass our target number of new youth leadership positions in large part due to our DYLF grantees, who are collectively adding 70+ new paid positions. We anticipate this number to continue growing in the Spring as we solidify partnerships with City and County departments on new initiatives in the coming months. 

Decision Making Opportunities for Youth

Why is it important?

Although other initiatives in this objective area may include young people as part of their engagement efforts, young people are not explicitly centered. We have seen time and time again that when engagement efforts are designed without young people as partners, and without consideration of barriers specifically impacting young people, young people do not engage. When programs and spaces are created with young people as partners and leaders, we expect to see a Durham that reflects what young people actually want and need. We expect to see policies and programs that are responsive, relevant, and have impact.  

What have we been doing?

There are several key initiatives that help us reach our goals for this initiative. Our Changed By Youth (CBY) ambassador program involves 15 paid youth consultants who are trained, nurtured, and supported to be in spaces where decisions are being made about programs, new positions, and policies throughout local government and beyond. They support various youth engagement initiatives and also plan a series of community offerings for other young people in Durham. We seated our third CBY cohort in October and they have been meeting for relationship building, training, and planning their community offerings. We are also working with several departments, including Planning, Transportation, and Community Development, to identify partnership and engagement opportunities for ambassadors and other young people.

We awarded a total of $300,000 to 18 grantees under the Durham Youth Leadership Fund (DYLF). Grantees will be working to grow youth leadership in Durham and will be focused on: creating connection through art and culture; creating welcoming "third spaces" - spaces outside of home and school; and supporting mental health. Our partners will be bringing a total of 70+ new paid youth leadership positions to Durham! We hosted a kickoff meeting in October 2023 for relationship  building and connection, and future gatherings will include additional opportunities for connection as well as skill building and training. We also released a report that details the successes and impact of our first cohort of 2021-2022 grantees, which you can find here! In addition to supporting our grantees with consultation and training, we also continue to provide consultation to other adult youth service providers regarding building youth leadership within their programs. Thus far this year, we have made over 35 consultations. 

What's next?

  • CBY ambassadors will plan and host their community offerings in response to what young people in Durham have said they want and need
  • DYLF grantees will continue to implement their projects, helping us move this initiative forward in terms of expanding youth leadership in Durham and creating opportunities for young people to feel welcomed and supported
  • The Office on Youth will release a refreshed strategic plan and brand, further clarifying for partners and the wider community exactly who we are, and what we do
  • We will continue providing consultation to youth service providers, including those funded under DYLF, and host spaces for training, skill building, and connection 

Budget and Management Services Department
Office of Performance and Innovation
Strategy and Performance Division