Our History

The Youth Policy Institute of Iowa (YPII) was established in 2000 to champion positive youth development policies and practices in Iowa. Founder and current Executive Director, Carol Behrer, formed the organization to leverage her passion for improving youth policy and practice to assist other state and local entities. YPII’s work has emphasized supporting collaboration, improving quality and measuring results.

Aligning and Improving Policy through Collaboration: YPII has been influential in the development and support of state level collaborative efforts, most notably the Iowa Collaboration for Youth Development (ICYD), helping to secure federal and private funding for several years. YPII also provided staff support for ICYD’s team to the National Governor’s Association Youth Policy Forum and for it’s Embedding Prevention grant from the National Crime Prevention Council, positioning Iowa as a national leader among states transforming public policy to embrace positive youth development principles. YPII was also involved in the formation of the Iowa Afterschool Alliance, securing the initial private grants to launch this coalition in 2003.

Improving Quality: YPII has spearheaded several initiatives to strengthen and expand professional development and quality improvement activities for the youth services field in Iowa. These activities have included building capacity to deliver Advancing Youth Development trainings in Iowa; serving as the lead agency for Midwest BEST – an effort to bring professional development opportunities to Iowa’s youth workers, and coordinating Youth & Shelter Services’ annual Risky Business Conference from 2000 through 2002. YPII was the lead agency for a federal Communities Empowering Youth grant from the U.S. Department of Human Services from 2006 through 2010, which brought capacity building resources to youth services in Des Moines, Waterloo, and Iowa City. Most recently, YPII was instrumental in introducing Iowa’s youth services field to the research-based Youth Program Quality Assessment and quality improvement process developed by the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, and continues to promote the use of research-validated organizational assessments to inform quality improvement activities.

Measuring Results: As the demand for documented results of program effectiveness continues to increase, YPII has helped small project’s, such as the YMCA Youth Leadership Project and Chrysalis Foundation Afterschool Programs, design and implement process and outcome evaluations. YPII also continues to conduct the statewide evaluation of the Aftercare and Preparation for Adult Living programs for the Iowa Aftercare Services Network.