About the Program
The concept for Y2CONNECT was originally funded through a 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant that focused on training clinicians and non-clinical staff on the importance of engaging young men in sexual health care using the Project Connect model.9 In 2016, after CDC grant funding for the original project ended, the current iteration of the website was launched as a comprehensive resource for all Baltimore youth. Y2CONNECT.org has since been funded on a smaller scale through local foundations and organizations, including the Thomas Wilson Foundation. This limited funding means that the organization’s staffing capacity is also limited; graduate-level research assistants now primarily operate and maintain the resource guide for course credit. Y2CONNECT is led by Arik Marcell, M.D., M.P.H., who is faculty in adolescent medicine and public health at Johns Hopkins University, and includes a team of public health students.
Y2CONNECT.org is organized into four components:
- Hot Topics — This section contains information and guidance for youth under two subtopics:
- Parents/Professionals — This section contains resources for adults in the following groups:
- About — This page contains a video and overview of Y2CONNECT.org’s mission and funding.
Y2CONNECT’s Baltimore and Boston pages feature predominately local, community-based initiatives and resources. They also feature several highly reputable national resources and hotlines, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, The Trans Lifeline, and the National Parent Hotline.
Cities, jurisdictions, and school districts that implement the Y2CONNECT platform can tailor the resources on the website to also highlight those offered in their community. Learn how to launch Y2CONNECT for your community in the Resources section.
Y2CONNECT was founded by Dr. Arik Marcell, who grew up in Chicago, IL. Growing up, Dr. Marcell felt disconnected from and unaware of what youth programming or health resources existed for young people in his city. Dr. Marcell moved to San Francisco, CA, after his residency, where he completed his formal training in adolescent health. In San Francisco, he discovered a provider resource directory containing a breadth of local health resources for young people in the city. That guide proved to be a critical source of information as he shared the resources with his patients and referred them to existing services across the city. When Dr. Marcell moved to Baltimore, he found that no such resource existed. A few local and/or topic-focused guides existed, but Dr. Marcell noted that no comprehensive, well-vetted guide to increase accessibility to cross-sector community resources for Baltimore’s young people and youth-serving professionals existed prior to Y2CONNECT.
In 2017, Boston Public Schools (BPS) and the Duval County school system in Florida launched pilot programs and partnered with Y2CONNECT to implement Baltimore’s website platform for local resources. In 2019, BPS chose to continue using the Y2CONNECT platform after completion of the pilot. The Boston partnership has now been maintained for five years, during which the BPS website has experienced increased utilization and pageviews.
9 Division of STD Prevention, National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Project Connect Health Systems Intervention (Project Connect). https://www.cdc.gov/std/projects/connect/default.htm