ELAYO: Empower Latino Youth

 Empower Latino YouthThe Health Equity Institute (HEI) partnered with the California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) to address the urgent need to reframe the current discourse about Latino youth sexuality and childbearing. During the project, ELAYO sought to advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of Latino youth through research, training, and advocacy.

ELAYO used a mixed methods approach to research that centered on the voice of Latino youth and explored how they make decisions about sex, parenting, and education in the context of conflicting messages and structural inequalities. Using the research, ELAYO advocated for policies, programs, and practices to support Latino youth, regardless of their choices and circumstances. 

HEI trained and mentored future generations of sexuality researchers from high school students to postdoctoral fellows involved in ELAYO. Below is a video of the Youth Advisory Group, a group of high school students, who provided youth perspectives on project activities. 



ELAYO has finished qualitative and quantitative data analysis. The team has disseminated the findings at various conference and community events.

Strategic Communications:

Throughout the project, ELAYO advocated for policies, programs, and practices that support Latino youth. The ELAYO team attended numerous conferences, held policy briefings and other community events to disseminate findings. Some of the communication activities included:

  • Community briefs to disseminate research findings to lay readers and media outlets
  • Policy briefs that target key policymakers and policy advocates
  • Regional convenings and community science dialogues for a range of audiences (i.e., CBOs, parents, educators, heathcare providers)
  • Creation of an online multi-media communication tool kit
  • Peer-reviewed publications and presentations at national and regional conferences
  • Dissemination of the four documentaries produced for ELAYO. The films are currently available on the web and Youtube. Organizations and individuals can also request a DVD copy by emailing Holly Logan. Over 500 DVD copies have been given away at conferences and workshops.


Learn about presentations that ELAYO attended including conferences, community events, and policy briefings.


Follow the ELAYO project on Twitter and Facebook

Funder: Ford Foundation

Dates: January 2011-July 2013 (Phase 1: Data Collection)

Aug 2013-Aug 2014 (Phase 2: Strategic Communication Dissemination)

Lead Faculty: Cynthia Gómez, Ph.D., Principal Investigator


Affiliated Project Staff


Other Information:

The ELAYO project was funded by the Ford Foundation's Initiative for Youth Sexuality, and Reproductive Health, and Rights in the United States. You may be interested in the other projects funded through this initiative:


  • Crossroads Collaborative (University of Arizona) - The Crossroads Collaborative brings stories and numbers together through action-oriented research with academics, youth serving organizations, and youth from the community to develop knowledge, increase understanding, amplify youth voice, and shift public discourses on policies regarding youth sexuality, health, and rights. http://mcclellandinstitute.arizona.edu/crossroads
  • Detroit Youth Passages (University of MIchigan)  - Examining and transforming the structural conditions that contribute to sexual vulnerability among residentially unstable youth in Detroit. Identifying what is needed, how to help, and where policy makers and others can make a difference. http://detroityouthpassages.org/
  • Face Value, a project of the Tides Center, is a culture change agent working to eliminate stigma associated with being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.  They convene interdisciplinary teams comprised of academics, advocates, applied researchers and strategists to undertake new social science research to expose the underlying social and psychological root causes of society's discomfort and disapproval of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, translating these findings into evidence-based communication and community engagement models designed to disrupt stigma by fundamentally changing how we, as a society, understand, relate to, and communicate about what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. Their methods include real-time field experiments to test and validate the effectiveness of these strategies. http://facevalueproject.org
  • Project Safe SPACES (University of Illinois at Chicago) -  Investigating why young people harass each other because of gender or sexuality and developing a research-backed campaign to make schools safer. In addition, the project is investigating parents' attitudes and beliefs about these issues. By exploring how youth experience and construe such harassment and the social reasoning that affects young people's judgments about these forms of harassment, Safe SPACES will develop bullying prevention messaging that will move both youth and parents to take action to make schools safer and more welcoming. http://education.uic.edu/773-safespaces
  • Public Health Institute's Adolescent Sexual Health Policy Project (University of California, Berkeley, and Planned Parenthood Shasta-Pacific) - Expanding the theoretical and empirical foundations of comprehensive sexuality education, critically examining  the validity and integrity of sexuality education research and its use, and conducting a wide range of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research on adolescent sexuality, health, and rights. http://crahd.phi.org


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