I4Y UC Berkeley School of Public Health

I4Y UC Berkeley School of Public Health

What is I4Y?

I4Y (Innovations for Youth) in the UC Berkeley School of Public Health develops and evaluates novel and effective community-partnered approaches to improve adolescent health in real-world settings.

Why I4Y?

Public health gains achieved globally and nationally over the last several decades in early child health are now being eroded in adolescence. Adolescents 10 to 19 years of age comprise 1/5 of the world’s population. Mortality increases by 300% between childhood and adolescence, primarily due to behavioral causes set in motion by fundamental social determinants of adolescent health. These erosions in health are particularly marked in the largest and fastest growing populations of youth—those who are marginalized from economic and educational structures of opportunity.

Adolescence is a key developmental window to promote long-term success or compensate for disadvantage. The framework for adolescent health of the last 30 years—individually-based and focused on risks and problems—is too narrow to address the fundamental causes of morbidity and mortality in youth and falls short of the goal of promoting a thriving youth population.

Adolescent health and success is determined by the balance between the settings in which they develop (e.g. families, schools, neighborhoods) and the strengths and vulnerabilities they bring to those settings. Youth require policies and interventions that focus on their developmental needs and opportunities, remove barriers, and scaffold them to success. Such approaches are complex and require working across disciplines and in partnership with key stakeholders outside of the academy, drawing on the expertise of youth-serving community organizations and practitioners. To sustain the substantial gains made in early childhood health and promote lifelong health, I4Y applies advances in knowledge about how settings shape the successful transitions of children into early adolescence of adolescents into successful young adults.

I4Y is ideally positioned to transform adolescent health locally and globally through the following activities:

  1. Training the next generation of leaders in adolescent public health to be rigorous, multidisciplinary applied scientists grounded in community collaboration.
  2. Deploying cutting-edge methods to understand the multi-level effects of environments on youth health, including spatial methods, causal inference and youth participatory action research methods for which UCB has established expertise and leadership.
  3. Promoting the integration of approaches to adolescent health across campus to develop, pilot, and test interventions.
  4. Disseminating effective models through youth engagement and social media, open access white papers, e-publication of our research, and presentations to academic, community, and policy audiences.
  5. Partnering with communities in low-resource settings in Northern California (SF, Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, and Salinas) and globally (East Africa and Brazil) to participate equally in the development, implementation, and dissemination of our research findings.

Our team includes SPH-based faculty expertise in public health, anthropology, demography, economics, education, epidemiology, medicine, psychology, and sociology, who are engaged in long-term, active community and clinical partnerships with providers, policymakers, families, and adolescents outside the academy.


Colette (Coco) Auerswald (Co-Director) is a pediatrician, specialized in adolescent medicine, and trained in medical anthropology, who employs ethnographic and epidemiological methods together to describe and address the effects of social context on the health of marginalized youth, including homeless youth in the US, street children in East Africa, low income youth of color, and LGBTQ youth.

Emily J. Ozer (Co-Director) is a clinical/community psychologist and Professor in the UCB School of Public Health. Her research focuses on promoting healthier adolescent development, especially via collaborations with Latino and multi-ethnic urban populations in school and community-based interventions. She has extensive experience in multi-disciplinary networks and collaborations to promote adolescent development and well-being, particularly in the areas of mental health; violence prevention; resilience; and substance abuse prevention.

Ndola Prata (Co-Director) is an Associate Professor in Residence of Maternal and Child Health, a public health physician and medical demographer, she is the Fred H. Bixby Endowed Chair in Population and Family Planning and the Director of the Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability. Her research focuses on a wide range of topics related to adolescent reproductive health services in developing countries.

School of Public Health Affiliates

  • Jennifer Ahern
  • Ronald Dahl
  • Julianna Deardorff
  • Brenda Eskenazi
  • Andrea Garber
  • Kim Harley
  • Denise Herd
  • Douglas Jutte
  • Kris Madsen
  • Alexandra (Ali) Minnis
  • Ahna Suleiman
  • Len Syme

I4Y’s UC-based campus partners include additional faculty across UCB from the Goldman School of Public Policy, the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, the Center for African Studies, the School of Education, the School of Social Welfare, Boalt Hall School of Law and the Human Rights Center, the Department of Psychology and the Greater Good Science Center. UCSF partners include the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Global Health Sciences, and the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies.