The UC Davis Regional Center for Change is conducting an unprecedented study on the Sacramento region’s youth to better understand the disparities in youth well being.
The study will focus on four different sectors – education, health, employment and civic engagement.
“All of those [subjects] are necessary for a healthy youth, healthy region,” said Professor Jonathan London, the director of the study. “We are looking into what the conditions of those are and how the region can be even better.“
London and others are hoping to use the information they yield to make a positive impact on the Sacramento region’s youth. Their aim is to change public policy to better support youth struggling in the four sectors they have identified.
Commissioned by the Sierra Health Foundation (SHF) and partially funded by the California Endowment (CAE), the $1 million study will take two years to fully complete. The SHF has already been investing in communities in the area for the past three years, and wanted to take on a bigger project.
“The key to improving outcomes for youth in the region is investing in youth leadership,” said Diane Littlefield, the senior program officer at the SHF.
Students who don’t graduate from high school result in fewer outcomes, and directly correlate with poorer health status, Littlefield said. These statistics have created concern for people like her at the SHF.
In order to conduct the study thoroughly, Littlefield said, the SHF asked the Center for Regional Change (CRC) to take the lead.
“We like the [CRC] because they are planning to look at all sectors and how they relate together,” Littlefield said. “They have brought together an incredible team to research this.“
There have been studies on education and graduation rates with health outcomes in Sacramento before, but there has yet to be a study that has been regional and looking at all sectors at the same time.
“The problem is so big one county can’t do it on their own and has to be a collaborative effort,” London said. “We have to work on a regional scale and if we can do that, we can have a fantastic youth.“
The SHF will be releasing their findings this fall along with continual public updates to get the word out about what they are doing.
“We are hoping to inform organizations and policymakers on how they utilize their resources,” Littlefield said. “With this information, we will better view our youth as an asset with resources.“
CORY BULLIS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.