Colorado launches Youth Mental Health Corps, joins national initiative to provide mental health support


Serve Colorado is joining forces with 10 other states, the Schultz Family Foundation, Pinterest, AmeriCorps, the Colorado Behavioral Health Administration and the Colorado Community College System to recruit, train and deploy the nation’s first Youth Mental Health Corps to help teenagers access critical mental health resources. 

Serve Colorado, located within the Office of the lieutenant governor, manages AmeriCorps programs across the state of Colorado. Colorado programs hosting members for the Youth Mental Health Corps include Alpine Achievers Initiative, City Year, Colorado Youth for Change, Trailhead Institute and United Way Southwest Colorado. 

The new Youth Mental Health Corps is an innovative, public-private collaboration that will address the growing needs of young people while creating career pathways to address the national shortage of mental-health professionals. Corps members will be trained as navigators serving middle and high school students in schools and in community-based organizations.

“Colorado’s commitment to the mental well-being of our youth is unwavering,” said Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera. “By joining this national initiative, we are not only addressing the urgent need for mental health resources, but also creating meaningful pathways for our young adults to pursue careers in this vital field. Together, we will make a tangible difference in the lives of Colorado youth, empowering them to navigate the challenges they face with resilience and hope while addressing shortages in the behavioral health workforce.”

AmeriCorps Youth Mental Health Corps members will gain valuable on-the-job experience, receive a stipend and earn a credential to advance their career. They will also be eligible for education awards to pursue higher education or pay back qualifying student loans.

One in three high school students report persistent feelings of hopelessness, and approximately 122 million people live in a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area, where there is a shortage of more than 6,000 practitioners, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Furthermore, according to the Colorado Health Access Survey, just over 16 percent of youth ages 5-17 reported poor mental health in 2023,

“Ensuring that we have a passionate, skilled and robust workforce is critical to achieving the vision of a future in Colorado where everyone — including our youth — has access to equitable, high-quality behavioral health services,” said Colorado Behavioral Health Administration Commissioner Dannetete R. Smith. “This innovative collaboration is a fantastic opportunity to not only create a pipeline into the behavioral health care workforce, but to continue to build and expand our safety net of care for teens and youth. We are grateful to Schultz Family Foundation, Pinterest and the Biden Administration for recognizing this need and taking action to address it.”

The Colorado Youth Mental Health Corps seeks to address the crisis by leveraging the power of national service. Conceived by the Schultz Family Foundation and Pinterest, the program was developed in consultation with hundreds of experts and practitioners. 

Both organizations will provide financial support to participating state service commissions to design and adapt the initiative to meet local needs, including providing training and credentials at no cost to Corps members. 

AmeriCorps, the federal agency for service and volunteerism, will provide operating support to organizations hosting members, as well as stipends and education awards to Corps members.

Hundreds of Corps members will be deployed in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and Texas starting in September. 

Anyone ages 18-24 with a high school diploma can apply at

“We are at a critical moment where we must act with urgency to address the mental health crisis that is impacting millions of our children. I am incredibly thankful for our grantees and partners at America Forward, Pinterest, and Schultz Family Foundation for standing up Youth Mental Health Corps,” said Michael D. Smith, CEO of AmeriCorps. “This innovative cross-sector partnership will build on AmeriCorps’ 30 years of hands on experience supporting youth mental health and well being. AmeriCorps members will serve as peer support specialists and navigators at schools and in communities to connect students with care.” 

About Serve Colorado

Serve Colorado, managed within the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, has been uplifting communities across the state by harnessing the power of volunteerism to tackle the state’s most pressing challenges for nearly 30 years. Learn more at

About AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism, provides opportunities for Americans to serve their country domestically, address the nation’s most pressing challenges, improve lives and communities, and strengthen civic engagement. 

Each year, the agency places more than 200,000 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers in intensive service roles; and empowers millions more to serve as long-term, short-term or onetime volunteers. Learn more at