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Bold, Innovative, Strategic, and Experienced

For nearly four decades, the organization has worked tirelessly to promote effective adolescent reproductive and sexual health programs and policies in the United States and the global south. Below is a select list of the organization’s accomplishments spanning its 38-year history. Advocates for Youth is:

  • One of the first organizations to put adolescents’ reproductive and sexual health needs on the agenda of the international family planning field, establishing the International Clearinghouse on Adolescent Fertility as early as 1980.  
  • An early promoter of edu-tainment, establishing the Los Angeles-based Media Project (1980-2005) to provide storyline ideas, script review, up-to-date research, access to experts and an awards ceremony to encourage television writers and directors to incorporate information and images into television programming that educates viewers about sexuality. Programs such as ER, Dawsons Creek, My So Called Life, Life Goes On, Cagney and Lacy, Moesha and 90210, among others regularly used Media Project services.  
  • The creator of Life Planning Education, a 1983 groundbreaking sex education program that incorporated sex education with vocational, educational and financial planning education. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the program was translated into multiple languages and used by communities in more than 50 countries around the globe.
  • A pioneer in the school-based health center movement, establishing the Support Center for School-Based Health Care in 1984 and helping to expand the number of school-based and school-linked health centers from less than 500 to more than 1500 over a six year period. In the early 1990, Advocates co-founded and helped launch the National Assembly for School-Based Health Care to carry on this work.
  • One of the first mainstream organizations to recognize the potential danger of HIV for adolescents, sponsoring a trailblazing first National Conference on AIDS and Adolescents among other HIV prevention initiatives as early as 1987.
  • A trendsetter in cultural advocacy, coordinating the European Study Tour as early as 1988, to spearhead a new narrative in the US recognizing youth sexual development natural and healthy.  The organization co-produced Let’s Talk About Sex, a provocative documentary designed to challenge the country to rethink its approach to young people and sexuality.  The documentary premiered in April 2011 on TLC to more than 1. 5 million households.
  • One of two co-sponsors of the First Inter-Africa Conference on Adolescent Reproductive Health in 1992. The conference highlighted adolescent health issues in Africa, examined program models, linked research to program development,  and establish a network for study and advocacy. The conference was attended by over 300 delegates from 28 African countries.
  • The founder, in 1998 of the first internet intervention for lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth, Youth Resource,  and its Spanish-language sister site, Ambiente Joven.
  • An incubator for seminal organizations in the field. Advocates helped birth the National Assembly for School-Based Health Care, National Youth Advocacy Coalition,  the Center for Adolescent Health and the Law, and the Queer African Youth Initiative.
  • A leader in the field of youth empowerment, centering the voices of youth most impacted as early as 1990 and promoting youth involvement on HIV community planning groups, the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, the President’s Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, and local School Health Advisory Councils across the country. Advocates continues to maintain a Youth Activist Network, comprised of 100,000 young activists and leaders from around the country and the world working in support of youth sexual health and rights.
  • A regular contributor to and influencer of the media regarding adolescent reproductive and sexual health issues. In 2001, Advocates framed the debate over abstinence-only “sex education” as an assault on public health science and coined the phrase “science vs. ideology”. The phrase was later adopted by environmental rights and medical associations, including the Society of Concerned Scientists to describe the assault by social conservatives on public health research within their fields. The term later became a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s guiding principles.
  • The founder of Amplify, in 2001–the first fully-integrated hub for online activism and youth-led grassroots movement building for young advocates across the country and around the world.
  • A pioneer of strategies to redress homophobia and transphobia in communities of color. Advocates founded the Anti-homophobia/Transphobia Project in 2007 to provide information, resources, and assistance to more than 400 community-based organizations serving youth of color around the country, helping them to make their programming and their communities more inclusive of LGBT youth of color. In 2012, the organization leveraged its domestic expertise to launch an LGBT youth health and rights program in Uganda, Nigeria and Jamaica.
  • Co-founded the Future of Sex Education Initiative (FoSE) in 2007, a collaboration to promote comprehensive sexuality education in America’s public schools.  In 2012, FoSE produced the National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, grades K through 12. The Standards provide the first-ever guidance for schools on the minimum essential content and skills students need to learn in each grade. A CDC survey in 2017 showed the Standards had been adapted or adopted by 42 percent of school districts.
  • The home of the Great American Condom Campaign, now known as the Condom Collective, launched in 2009 as a partnership with Trojan-brand condoms to normalize condom use by sexually active youth on college campuses.  Since then, almost 10,000 students have served as “SafeSites” providing no-cost Trojan ® brand condoms to almost 10 million young people and advocating for improved contraceptive access on more than 1,000 campuses nationwide.
  • The creator of the groundbreaking 1 in 3 Campaign, an initiative launched in 2012 that shifted abortion advocacy in the U.S. to one designed to break through people’s silence around their personal experiences with abortion and shatter abortion stigma through the use of first-person storytelling.  The campaign launched other storytelling projects in the field and helped undergird the fields’ legal efforts in Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt. Young people on 100 college campuses participate in the campaign each semester, helping to create a pipeline of emerging young leaders for the reproductive health, rights and justice movement. In 2019 the campaign evolved into Abortion Out Loud, focused on ensuring young people’s access and centering their stories.
  • The publisher of Rights, Respect, Responsibility (2016), the first K-12th grade sex education curriculum. Rights, Respect, Responsibility is fully mapped to the National Sex Education Standards, LGBTQ inclusive and covers all 16 topics recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as essential components of sexual health education.  The curriculum is free and its lesson plans are being used in more than 100 school districts, including 11 of the largest 25 school districts reaching more than 2.3 million students.
  • One of the primary authors of the International Guidance on Sexuality Education, published by UNICEF and UNESCO to offer curriculum developers guidance on the topics and skills young people need to learn at each developmental stage to grow into sexually healthy adults.
  • Author of the first evidence-based HIV prevention intervention designed specifically for Black and Latino young men who have sex with men, ages 16-19.  Adapted from Many Men Many Voices, Get Your Life can be implemented by community-based organizations with support from schools. Evaluation shows impact on young people knowledge, skills and intent to reduce risk.

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