Positive Youth Development

Berkshire United Way is collaborating with community partners across the county to change the environment in which youth live, supporting them to make healthier decisions which will lead them to graduate high school with a vision for their future. We collect and analyze data to pin point what risk and protective factors are currently influencing our youth, and how best to support them.

Based on the surveys and research, we know that alcohol and drug use, along with teen pregnancy, increases the likelihood of youth dropping out of high school. That is why Berkshire United Way is encouraging youth to make healthy decisions to ensure high school graduation. We also know that some youth who graduate high school may not have a solid college or career plan. To combat this, we invest in after-school programs, college and career work readiness programs, and mentoring programs.

To date, we've made an impact across the county, including:

Teen birth rates have declined significantly.  Since 2009, there has been a 63% reduction in the countywide teen birth rate.

Since 2006:

  • 8th grade 30-day marijuana use has declined 46%
  • 8th grade 30-day alcohol use declined 69% countywide
  • 10th grade 30-day alcohol use has declined 43%
  • 12th grade 30-day alcohol use has declined 21%
  • Tobacco use has declined in 8th, 10th, and 12th graders by 59%

We accomplish this work through support of the Positive Youth Development Impact Council, made up of community leaders, providers, educators, experts and more. We use a Collective Impact model, which means there are multiple players working together to solve complex issues.

Berkshire United Way also works on the Berkshire Youth Development Project collaborative.

If you have any questions or concerns, or are interested in giving your time, talent or gifts to the positive youth development goal area, please contact Kat Toomey, Coordinator of Positive Youth Development  at 413-442-6948 x 15 or ktoomey@berkshireunitedway.org.

For a list of funded programs in Positive Youth Development, click here.

"The biggest thing I've learned is to believe in myself and work as a team. It was hard for me to overcome my stage fright and being anti-social but I enjoyed making new friends."
  -Local teen



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