A Leadership Program for City of Boulder Youth

The Youth Opportunities Program (YOP) promotes youth civic engagement and leadership development, organizes community events and provides youth perspective and recommendations on city and community projects, issues and initiatives.

YOP Mission

YOP strengthens the community through:

  • Empowering youth;
  • Providing opportunities for youth;
  • Encouraging youth civic participation and volunteer work; and
  • Advising city government.


Since 1994 the YOP has:

  • Allocated more than $2 million in sales tax funds to provide more than 100,000 youth with access to cultural, educational, and recreational activities.
  • Funded youth-serving or -supporting programs in more than 150 schools and organizations.
  • Compensated young people for contributing more than 55,000 hours of volunteer service to the community.

The YOP offers Boulder youth opportunities to impact their own lives and those of other youth through peer outreach and representation of youth voice in local government and community projects and initiatives, and funding of individual and community grants.

The YOP facilitates:

  • Young people educating each other how to prevent risky behaviors.
  • Programs that help improve attendance, academics, health and well-being.
  • Youths finding their voices.
  • Critical thinking, writing, interviewing and other professional skills.

Youth Opportunities Advisory Board (YOAB)

YOP does this work through the Youth Opportunities Advisory Board (YOAB), which is made up of 16 students from four local public and private high schools.

Past YOAB projects include:

  • Coordinating the Youth Climate Change Summit.
  • Providing outreach to youth to increase awareness of Census 2020.
  • Contributing youth perspective to the master plans for Transportation, Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP), Parks and Recreation and the Boulder Police Department.
  • Creating a video about the achievement gap.
  • Conducting a survey about youth needs among City of Boulder youth.
  • Organizing the Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Day of Service.

Youth Opportunities Internship Program

A six-week paid summer internship, where interns are matched with a city department to gain experience in city government. In addition to supporting their assigned department, interns take part in career readiness sessions hosted by YOP staff where they develop and enhance professional skills that will help them succeed in their post and in future endeavors.

Applications for 2024 internships have closed.

Local Youth Leadership Opportunities and Youth Volunteer Information

The YOP maintains a list of many different local civic engagement programs that middle or high school students can become involved in. Many of them tend to be longer-term commitments than the volunteer opportunities listed in the Youth Volunteer Information booklet, also published by the YOP, which contains a list of local youth volunteer opportunities organized by age.

Child Friendly City Initiative

The 23-24 YOAB was engaged in the Situation Analysis phase of the child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI), which involved gathering insights from various sources. This began with selecting criteria with community input and proceeding to gather feedback from youth and those who interact with them. Their assessments covered areas like youth safety in neighborhoods and their sense of community involvement. YOAB members took training to facilitate community discussions effectively, enabling them to host events like the Teen Town Hall and participate in programs like the Youth Service Initiative (YSI) and the Youth Equity Council (YEC). Through these initiatives, they administered assessments and facilitated conversations to gather data, which they then contributed to larger initiatives like the Child Friendly City Initiative.

Additionally, they participated in events like What’s Up Boulder? to interact with youth directly and gather their perspectives on city life. Another significant aspect of their involvement was in intergenerational workshops and the formation of a Youth Council, which played a crucial role in directing funds assigned for community initiatives like the CFCI. This approach highlighted the importance of data collection in guiding future actions.