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Save the Date! University of YOUTH POWER! Class of 2017
UYP 2017 logo

June 24-27, 2017, YOUTH POWER! will host the fourth annual University of YOUTH POWER! (UYP), a for-youth-by-youth social justice conference that is modeled after a college experience. 

Young people ages 18 to 30 can register for this for-youth-by-youth social justice conference with a major of Peer Advocacy or Systems Advocacy. Professors will be from a variety of fields of work including Disability Rights, Mental Health, Addiction, Foster Care, Juvenile Justice, Labor, Independent Living, and more!
Attend YP!'s 10th Annual Leaders' Dinner: Students will have an opportunity to meet with government leaders and discuss what successes and challenges they have identified in systems serving youth and young adults. The Leader's Dinner will take place on Monday, June 26, 2017.

Register as a Resident or Day Student: Resident students will be provided overnight accommodations in the apartment style dormitory as well as meals on campus and all classes/activities for $700. Young people may also register as a day student and receive all the same perks as students excluding the overnight lodging for $460. Online registration fees will apply. Scholarships will be made available when registration opens.

Visit for more information or email
The Hudson River Regional Forum is Around the Corner. Register Today!
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What About Wellness?: Hudson River Regional Youth Forum
Saturday, December 17, 2016
12:30 pm - 4:30 pm

YOUTH POWER!'s Hudson River Regional Team has planned a FREE "Wellness" forum/event to take place on December 17th, 2016 from 12:30-4:30pm at the Howe branch of the Albany Library.

The Regional Youth Forum offers young people ages 12-29 who have been labeled (mental health, disability, foster care, juvenile system, addiction, etc.) the chance to voice opinions and concerns, meet like-minded people, and think of ways we can create change within the region. We want to hear from you!

The "Wellness" forum will explore what harms and helps us, coping skills, and ways to sustain support systems. What does it mean to be well? These things are often pushed t o the side due to our busy lives and the various things we face. Let's open up a space where we can come together to relax, eat food, and start a conversation.

You're also invited to build a self-care survival kit with us -- a box of comfort items that you can turn to when you're not feeling so great. We'll even give you some items to get started.

Join us to start a conversation and amplify your voice!

To register and get more info visit:

If you have any questions, please contact Brennan Williams at
Harness the Power of Hip Hop on December 21, 2016
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Join YOUTH POWER! and Man in the Mirror Inc. for Harnessing Hip Hop. 

This event will expose youth and young adults between the ages of 14-29 to the powers of Hip Hop, creating natural supports and overcoming struggles. 

Enjoy FREE food and drinks, live music, a panel of speakers and the opportunity to network with local hip hop artists. 

Date: Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Location: Brennan High School, 550 Mt Ave, West Babylon NY 11704
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm

Contact Alex Frisina at or call/text 631-245-5289 with any questions or with any registration information. Registration must be returned by December 20, 2016. 
Raise The Age NY Gets Major Social Media Boost Over the Weekend!
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On Friday, December 9, 2016, #RaiseTheAge started trending on Twitter after a few public figures with a large following started to Tweet about the issue.  By 2:30pm the next day, a Google doc of the 120 grassroots leaders (Including YP!) working on the Raise the Age Campaign was shared with a note encouraging people to follow them. 

Over the weekend YP! has more than doubled our Twitter followers and Facebook went up about 25%.  We are thrilled to welcome all of these new followers who are interested in social justice and raising the age of criminal responsibility.

We hope this added surge of awareness to the Raise the Age Campaign will be the extra ingredient we need to get it done.

Visit to get the facts and to find out what you can do to get involved, including contacting the Governor and the Legislature.
There's Still Time to Lead Your Region! Seeking Applications for RYPs
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Regional Youth Partner

We are seeking applications for the Central and NYC Regional Youth Partner (RYP) positions. RYPs are out field organizations who work to make our movement stronger by supporting local youth-led groups, hosting regional gatherings, and providing technical assistance.

Central Regional Youth Partner
Location: Applicant must reside in one of the 20 counties in the region.
Status: 1 Full-time non-exempt salary employee $30,000+ commensurate on experence, plus benefits package or 2 Part-time hourly positions - Hourly rate of $17-23 to commensurate on experience.
Qualifications: Must have personal lived experience accessing children's mental health services and be willing to share this information publically. Additional experience with Disability, Foster Care, Addiction, or Juvenile Justice is beneficial;  Bachelor's or Associates Degree preferred but not required;  Must have valid driver's license and reliable transportation;  Must be able to travel.

New York City Regional Youth Partner
Location: Manhattan
Status: Full-time salary employee - 36,000 plus benefits package
Qualifications: Must have personal life experience accessing children's mental health services and be willing to share this information publicly. Additional experience with Disability, Foster Care, Addiction, or Juvenile Justice is beneficial; Experience as a Youth Peer Advocate strongly preferred; Bachelor's or Associates Degree preferred but not required; Must be able to travel.

To view the full postings or for more information, please visit
Opportunity for a $60,000 Fellowship!
The Open Society Foundations' Youth Exchange, in partnership with the Human Rights Initiative and the Open Places Initiative, are seeking applicants for its Community Youth Fellowships. The fellowships come with an award of $60,000 for full-time, 18-month projects (prorated for part-time or 12-month projects).

The Community Youth Fellowships will support dynamic activists aged 18-25 who want to implement a project of their own design that advances human rights in underserved communities. Human rights projects could include those relating to criminal justice, workers' rights, employment, education, health, housing, or immigration, among other subject areas.

Through these fellowships, the Open Society Foundations aim to provide young people at the early stage of their work with the support they need to develop great ideas that contribute to dismantling challenges in their communities and advancing the values of an open society. Applicants may employ, either alone or in combination, any number of strategies to achieve the goals and objectives set forth in their projects. These strategies include but are not limited to: grassroots organizing, public education, strategic communications, policy advocacy, and coalition building. 

Applicants should be between the ages of 18 and 25. Their proposed projects should fall under one of the following options: 
  • Option 1: focus on human rights and take place in underserved communities in Puerto Rico, Buffalo, or San Diego
  • Option 2: focus on human rights in underserved communities anywhere in the United States; this opportunity is specifically for young persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities
Applicants must be at the earliest stages of their careers, have and want to learn more about what it takes to be most effective as an activist. Applicants directly affected by, or with significant direct personal experience of, the challenges, policies, practices, and systems their projects seek to address are strongly encouraged to apply. Applicants with intellectual and developmental disabilities are also strongly encouraged to apply regardless of support required. Effective and meaningful support will be provided to ensure the candidate is successful.

Deadline to submit letters of intent due January 10, 2017.

If you have questions or experience  technical difficulties with the online application form, please contact the Youth Exchange at
Want To Help Protect Your Rights? Join Action!
silhouette of person holding megaphone with ACTION! written across in red
Recent events have left many young people with serious concerns about their future and the future of our movement. If you are concerned about your rights and want to help make sure your rights are preserved, consider joining the Action Workgroup! 

The Action Workgroup puts YP!'s advocacy priorities into action by selecting topics from YP!'s Priority Agenda to develop into campaigns.  Action is a safe place where young people can talk about the issues that impact them and work to get things done. Action's current project is developing focus groups to gather input on young people's transition to adulthood. These focus groups will advise the Office of Mental Health on their transition age youth services. Other active campaigns include The Campaign for  Multiple Pathways to a Diploma and The Sexual Health and Healthy Relationships Campaign. 

Action meets every other Thursday through GoTo Meeting which allows you to join by phone, computer, or app. Any YP! Member from any area of the state can join. If you are not yet a member and interested in joining, find out more about becoming a member by visiting 

If you would like to join Action or receive more info, contact Melanie Hecker at or 518-432-0333 ex 14. 
Your Voice is Needed! Complete the FTNYS 2017 Public Policy Survey.
FTNYS Logo Each year, Families Together in New York State releases a  Policy Agenda to guide their advocacy and policy initiatives. The voices of children, youth and families as well as our friends from across New York State inform the development of their annual priorities. Please take a minute to tell them about your needs and the needs in your community.
If you have any questions or would like to request a print version of the survey, please contact Brad Hansen, Public Policy Coordinator at or  518.432.0333 x 28.

Kindly complete this survey by January 6, 2016. We appreciate your help and feedback.
FTNYS Now Accepting Nominations for the Advocate and Legislator of the Year Award
Families Together in New York State presents a Legislator of the Year Award and an Advocate of the Year Award at our Legislative Awareness Day and Luncheon.  You are invited to  nominate this years recipients based on the following criteria. 

  • Advocates on behalf of families and children involved in child-serving systems 
  • Emphasizes the importance of family and youth involvement in policy and service planning
  • Advances policy reform efforts with statewide impact
  • Cannot be an elected representative but local government officials are considered.  
  • Must be an elected representative(Senate, Assembly, Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, etc), a high-level official from a state agency, or a member of the executive office.
  • Champions policy reform efforts with statewide impact on behalf of families and children involved in child-serving systems 

Please submit any nominations using this link or email your nominations directly to by January 6, 2017.
FACEing Off the New Year by Domonica Jeffress
FACE logo
YP! has had an exciting year launching Fostering Advocacy Change Empowerment, FACE. In this first year, we have focused on making FACE, which started as a NYC organizing effort, a statewide group advocating for policy change in the child welfare and foster care system. This has included branding FACE as a part of YOUTH POWER! and integrating the goals and voices of FACE members in the broader YOUTH POWER! movement.

 In June, 4 FACE members were sponsored to attend the University of YOUTH POWER! UYP is a for youth by youth social justice conference held in Albany. Youth from across the state and across systems attend. There, they had the opportunity to gain knowledge, especially regarding cross systems efforts, and share their expertise and experiences specifically related to the foster care system. The knowledge and take away from the conference are a great asset and will be used to build FACE initiatives moving forward.

Before FACE came to YP!, Foster Youth in Action, a nationwide network of foster youth, was active in providing technical assistance and guidance. With their partnership, four members were invited to their 3-day Leaders for Change conference in Washington DC. There we met young people from 22 states who are working to make policy changes both in their state and nationwide. We left empowered and excited to take away lessons and knowledge that will help to formulate our priorities for 2017.

2017 will be year 2 for FACE and we plan to draft and use a foster care specific priority agenda created by FACE members to advocate for policy change. One of the ways we plan to do this is by attending the Families Together in NYS Legislative Awareness day. A FACE meeting will be attached to this so that members from around the state can come together and amplify our voices. We will also be joining forces with organizations that have foster care policy priorities to attend lobby days and other activities during the legislative season.

Although it has been an exciting year with successes and lessons, as with any grass root organizing effort, we haven't been without our challenges. We need your help going into 2017 so that we can be as effective as possible! We are continuously looking to recruit new members. A FACE member is a youth or young adult who has experience in foster care and has the desire to make policy changes in the Child Welfare and foster care system. As we continue to grow we are looking to build more partnerships with like-minded organizations. This is an ever-growing movement, and partnerships are vital to ensuring that we make the biggest impact possible. If you are interested in joining FACE, or becoming a partner, contact us today, we would be delighted to discuss ways to enhance our mission and make sure that every young person who has experience in the foster care system can have their voice heard to make positive policy change in New York's Child Welfare System. Look forward to more exciting news in 2017!

To learn more about FACE, visit  or email
Stay Up To Date on Foster Care Policy in New York State with the Foster Care Roundup
the Redlich Horwitz Foundation logo
YOUTH POWER!'s Fostering Advocacy Change and Empowerment (FACE) network is sponsored by the Redlich Horwitz Foundation which recently launched the  Foster Care Roundup, a monthly email newsletter of the latest foster care views and information with a New York focus.
Recent issues have covered topics such as: 
  • Perspectives on the NYC Council bills on foster care
  • A summary of recent research and resources relevant to the daily work of foster care agencies and frontline practice
  • Policy reform efforts impacting NY, among other topics
They strive to include content that is timely and actionable. The January issue will provide comprehensive coverage of best practices and research on foster parent recruitment/retention from around the state and the country. 

If you want to stay up to date on foster care policy in New York State, we recommend this newsletter. Click this link to Sign up.
Autism Action Plan Creates NY's First Autism Spectrum Advisory Board
Autism Action NY Banner
On Monday, November 28, 2016, Governor Cuomo signed the Autism Action Plan bill. This legislation aims to increase job opportunities, provide independent housing options, improve access to information, assist in communication, and create a centralized location for services in New York and support people on the autism spectrum. Included in this legislation is the creation of a statewide autism spectrum advisory board.
Capital Region Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, parent of a young person on the autism spectrum, unveiled this package of bills in January 2016 with the support of the Autism Society, Schenectedy ARC, Liberty ARC, the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP), and the New York State industries for the Disabled. According to his Autism Action NY page, this plan includes:  
  • The creation of a statewide autism spectrum disorder advisory board to implement the Autism Action Plan, develop a state service delivery system and incorporate new information as it becomes available;
  • ACCES-VR, which would add communication support to the state's current vocational rehabilitation services to improve employment outcomes for job-seeking with autism;
  • An Autism Home Loan Program to provide interest-free loans for the construction of long-term need specific housing, allowing family members of people with autism to leverage their own resources. The owner-occupier of single family homes where someone with disabilities lives with their families could get a loan for up to $50,000 or half the cost of the construction costs to add an accessory unit of up to two bedrooms;
  • A Communication & Technology Bill of Rights that would give people with disabilities better access to technology and information by making devices and platforms more compatible with the needs of people with developmental disabilities; and
  • A first-of-its kind standardized Autism I.D. Card for New Yorkers to replace locally issued identifications and homemade notes. This card would assist people with autism in their communication with law enforcement and first responders in emergency situations.

The creation of the board and other aspects of the plan begin immediately. The statewide autism spectrum advisory board will work to address the lack of consistency in autism services and make recommendations to make services the same from region to region in New York State as well as working to ensure that persons with autism and their families are more aware of available programs and services. The areas this board will work to address include but are not limited to early diagnosis; home and health services; education and developmental services; vocational placement; and improving research and training for professionals.

Nineteen members will serve on the board, ten who will be appointed and nine who will serve ex officio (because of their job, office, or position). For every two members appointed by each appointing authority, one member must have expertise of work as a professional in the field of autism and one must be either a family advocate or self-advocate in their community. 

The state agencies who will be selecting a representative to serve on the board ex officio include: The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities; The Department of Education; The Office of Mental Health; The Office of Children and Family Services; The Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Children and Family Services; and the Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities. The representatives selected by these agencies may also include a family advocate or self-advocate. The chair of the board will be selected by the governor.

Rebecca Botta-Zalucki, a graduate student at SUNY Albany and disability rights advocate who helped craft the job-training legislation, said, "There is nothing worse than being told one cannot pursue great things in life based simply on a diagnosis whose name has become synonymous with 'deficit.' Let's continue to recognize the unique strengths and skills autistic persons possess and focus our attention on more effective services, like communication support, which may transcend across various sectors and provide a platform for autistics to find their voice. This legislation proves that New York is on the verge of becoming a model state, helping to break down systemic barriers which have prevented autistic persons from achieving gainful employment."
The Autism Action Plan page can be found via
To view the bill for each component of the legislation, go to and search by the bill number below. When using the search, be sure to select "text" when on the page for the bill.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Board: A8635
  • ACCES-VR Communication Support: A5141
  • Autism Home Loan Program: A8796
  • Communication & Technology Bill of Rights: A8708
  • Standardized Autism I.D. Card: A8389
College Board Changed the Request Process for Test Accommodations - Effective January 1, 2017.
The College Board Facebook image - Outline of Acorn
"The College Board has overhauled its request process for testing accommodations, making it easier for eligible students to receive the support they need on College Board assessments.

Beginning January 1, 2017, the vast majority of students who are approved for and using testing accommodations at their school through a current Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan will have those same accommodations automatically approved for taking the SAT ®, PSAT 10, PSAT/NMSQT ®, SAT Subject Tests , and AP ® Exams. Most private school students with a current, formal school-based plan that meets College Board criteria will also have their current accommodations automatically approved for College Board exams. This streamlined process builds on the College Board's August 2016 expansion of testing accommodations that can be approved directly by schools without the need for additional documentation.

Under this new policy, school testing accommodation coordinators need to answer only two questions when submitting most requests for students: "Is the requested accommodation(s) in the student's plan?" and "Has the student used the accommodation(s) for school testing?" If the answer is yes to both questions, eligible students can be approved to receive most accommodations on College Board exams. This new process is expected to reduce the approval time for an overwhelming majority of accommodation requests."

Spreading Hope Over the Holidays by Melanie Hecker
The December holidays are a very special time for many. It is a time of family, festivities, celebration and cheer. However, during this time, many system-involved youth can feel left out of the celebration. There are various efforts aiming to change that by providing support, bringing gifts, aid, and holiday festivities to system involved youth during the holiday season.

From missing their family, memories of the past, everyone else having family around, or having nowhere to go, the holidays can often be a difficult time for many youth in foster care. There are many things you can do to help foster youth get through the holidays. These can include facilitating meetings with family, assisting in making presents, and buying items on the Foster Club checklist. See for more details.

The Felix organization also hosts a Secret Santa program that allows people to donate and collect gifts to be distributed to foster youth. The gifts tend to be practical gifts such as pajamas, scarfs, and gloves. You can find more information about this organization at  There are also many other organizations who collect gifts for foster youth. Oftentimes foster youth do not receive gifts other than the ones donated, and these programs help bring equality to the holiday season.

Homeless youth also tend to have a difficult time over the holiday season. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, there is an estimated 1.6 million homeless youth in the country. Youth can often feel a greater sense of rejection and abandonment by their families. It is also a time where many youth experience greater episodes of depression, anxiety, drug use, and suicidal thoughts. Many shelters accept direct donations for youth during the holiday season (we encourage you to look up your local shelter if you are interested in sending donations). The Ali Forney Center in NYC has also created a "Homeless for the Holidays Campaign" which shares the stories of homeless LGBT youth in an effort to raise awareness of the issues of LGBT Homelessness. For more information visit .

The holiday season as a time of giving and care rightfully applies to everyone. The efforts being made to bring holiday equality to system involved youth are important to what the holiday season is truly about. This holiday season, consider donating time, resources, or food to a homeless shelter, food bank, or children's hospital yourself. It helps make the holidays all the more special and can spread hope to many.   
Get Involved with National Campaigns!
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Social media is a great tool to bring awareness in our advocacy efforts. nationalcampaigns
Together, we can amplify our voices!

Team up with the Campaigns Below to Speak Up and Speak Out! 

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

National Mentoring Month
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month 

Want to get more involved in YP!'s Advocacy efforts?
 You can submit advocacy tips, articles, and more on topics that affect YOU! Team up with monthly, weekly, and national day campaigns and email submissions to !

Did we miss a campaign or resource above? Let us know
Greater Rochester Special Education Task Force Seeking Youth to Participate in a Panel on Involvement in IEP Transition Planning
On Thursday, February 2, 2017, the Greater Rochester Special Education Task Force will be hosting a half-day conference on Improving Student Involvement in the IEP Process. As a part of this conference, they are seeking young people in the Western Region to be a part of a panel of speakers to share their experiences being involved in transition planning.

The panel would include questions such as the following:
  • What was your involvement in planning for the future in high school?
  • What were the barriers?
  • What would have helped?
  • What do you wish the adults in your support circle had known?
  • How do you recommend we prepare teens to be a part of the process?
If you are interested in sharing your experiences in the IEP process to help improve services, please contact Jenny Hutkowski at
The views and opinions expressed in third party messages and external links included in this eNews are those of the organization or individual mentioned. They do not necessarily reflect the official positions of YOUTH POWER!.
YOUTH POWER! is the New York State network of young people who have been labeled and are seeking change.  Together, we have decided to speak up about our experiences because no one knows what it is like for us better than we do.  Through peer-to-peer mentoring, we empower young people to be active citizens who are aware of government operations, their rights and the ability to use their voices to influence policies, practices, regulations and laws.  We are young people helping other people, ensuring availability of self-help and peer support while changing systems so that young people get the support they need with the respect and dignity they deserve.  Nothing About Us Without Us!

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