POWER Youth Initiative (PYI)

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17); Young adult (18-24)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Aboriginal/Indigenous; Homeless and/or runaway; Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)

Topic: Alcohol and/or drug use; Crime issues involving a mental health disorder or other health disorder; Social development

Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

Red Deer has experienced a consistent increase in youth gang activities, availability of drugs/weapons and indicators of social disorder, such as graffiti, vandalism, prostitution and intoxication in and around the downtown core. POWER Youth Initiative (PYI) project programming was designed to enhance protective mechanisms for at-risk and high-risk youth.

The initial project theory, being that youth with various backgrounds and levels of risk would utilize the program equally (or at least together), did not hold true. The project was therefore redesigned to assist youth with multiple risk factors by incorporating best practices such as access to wrap-around services and referrals, addiction support, mental health consultation, employment assistance, recreation, life skills development and Aboriginal culture support.


The main goals of the POWER Youth Initiative are to:

  • Create a ‘one-stop’ community based venue that would provide proactive programming along with opportunities to marginalized youth;
  • Create wellness through empowerment; and
  • Reconnect young people to family, schools and community by providing seamless access to services.


The appropriate clientele for the POWER Youth Initiative are high-risk and homeless youth between the ages of 13 and 21. The majority of youth engaged by the program identify themselves as Caucasian while a significant proportion identify as Aboriginal. There are no eligibility criteria except being in the 13-21 age range. Most of the program participants are referred to the program by youth emergency homeless shelters or addictions services.

Core Components

The program components of the POWER Youth Initiative include the following:

  • Evening recreational activities;
  • Wrap-around services and referrals;
  • Addictions support;
  • Mental health consultations;
  • Employment assistance;
  • Life skills development; and
  • Aboriginal culture support.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: A safe place where high-risk youth can spend time during the evening while connecting with their peers and community in a positive way should be provided. And the lead organization should ensure that partners will be able to invest in youth over a longer period of time.
  • Partnerships: Limited information on this topic.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

The POWER Youth Initiative has been implemented in Red Deer (Alberta) from 2010 to 2014. Funding was provided through the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on the POWER Youth Initiative. The findings from the study have shown the following:

  • The SROI ratio is 1.72:1, demonstrating that for every one dollar of investment in the program, a social value of $1.72 was created;
  • Social value was created through a reduction in health care costs (less hospital stays due to improved response), avoiding resources spent locating and coordinating services for participants (human resource costs spent on integration tasks etc.); and
  • Social value was also created through the avoidance of risky sexual behaviours and an improved understanding of the cost of high-risk behaviours.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: POWER Youth Initiative (PYI). Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/safe-communities-innovation-fund-pilot-project-executive-summaries

For more information on this program, contact:

Parkland Youth Homes Society
Sandy Proseilo
Telephone: (403)340-8995
E-mail: sproseilo@parklandyouthhomes.ca

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-06
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: