Youth Advisory Councils

A group of multracial high school students studying in the library.

Youth Advisory Councils (YACs) provide ongoing advice and support to school districts on policies and practices that affect students.

Youth voices can make a difference.

Youth can work with supportive adults to improve schools and communities. Youth advisory councils (YACs)—sometimes called youth advisory boards—allow youth and adults to make decisions together and have a positive influence on others.

Role of Youth Advisory Councils

Youth can be empowered through YACs. YACs are formal groups that make decisions, advise others, or act to improve the schools and communities they serve.

YACs offer opportunities for youth and adults to work together and build strong partnerships. They can blend youth points of view and experiences with that of adults to build strong partnerships.

YACs give youth a voice in a program or an organization. Youth have the power to make decisions that shape their community and school environments.

A well-designed and focused YAC program is the key to success.

Focus for YACs

Youth and adults work together in YACs to decide on their focus and goals. Many YACs focus on specific issues and populations.

  • drugs use
    YACs might focus, for example, on preventing drug abuse, improving mental health, or decreasing sexual health risks.
  • Gay-Straight /Gender & Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) rainbow color icon
    YACs could focus on creating safe spaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ+) youth, students with disabilities, and other youth within a specific school district.
  • mental health
    YACs focused on decreasing the sexual health risks of students could inform education programs and counseling, testing, or treatment services for students.
  • LGBTQ
    YACs focused on increasing safety for LGBTQ+ youth should include LGBTQ+ youth on the council and focus on the issues those students care about.