“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come to because your liberation is bound up in mine, we can work together.” — Lilla Watson
The California Adolescent Health Collaborative (CAHC), is a project of the Public Health Institute, that aims to protect and improve the wellness of Bay Area and Central Valley youth by building organizational and connections, and seeding innovation through research. In partnership with youth leaders and adult allies, CAHC strengthens and transforms systems and organizations so that young people develop the knowledge, skills, and resources to transform their communities and have healthy transitions to adulthood.
CAHC grew out of the initiative, commitment, and perseverance of a core group of individuals who attended a four-state conference held in 1995 to review states’ efforts to promote adolescent health. At that time, there was no existing statewide organization in California with a mission to address adolescent health and well-being from a non-categorical, multidisciplinary perspective. This core group continued to meet regularly and involve new members. By January 2001, with support from the California State Department of Health Services, Maternal and Child Health Branch, CAHC released California’s first statewide strategic plan for adolescent health, Investing in Adolescent Health: A Social Imperative for California’s Future. The plan has served as a model for adolescent health initiatives in California’s counties and in other states.
Our values inform our current work, partnerships, internal team functioning, and future directions:
Youth: Youth are valued partners in all our work, they hold meaningful decision-making roles in our programs and our teams. We reject adultism and the systemic stigmatization of adolescents.
Collaboration: We engage with people, organizations and movements as allies. We strategically lead, partner, or follow in our collaborative initiatives. We are students of collective impact.
Health: We ascribe to the WHO definition of health: Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Social Justice: We recognize that patterns of health and illness are shaped by social structures and systems; to improve and protect our health, youth health, and community health we must change systems.
Innovation: In order to make change, we need to change the way we do business. We use research methods to answer new questions and innovate new solutions.
Equity Focused: With limited resources we strategically focus on identifying populations and communities with the greatest opportunity to add value.
Scrappiness: We believe in our work, are passionate about quality and outcomes, and are responsible stewards of resources that have been entrusted to us.
Humor: Humor is essential to wellness, communication, and team chemistry.
Cultural Humility: We choose to be humble, curious, and always learning.