State Agency Awards Yurok Tribe $7.9 Million for Youth Center

Yurok Youth Center
Yurok Youth Center rendering

KLAMATH, CA – The Yurok Tribe received a $7.9 million grant from the California Department of Healthcare Services to construct a Yurok Youth Center in Weitchpec.

“The new facility will serve as a one-stop location where our youth will have access to the culturally informed services and self-empowering support they need to lead healthy, productive lives,” said Yurok Chairman Joseph L. James. “I would like to thank California Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Healthcare Services for investing in the future of the Yurok Tribe. This cutting-edge center will strengthen our youth, our families and our community for many generations to come.”

On the first floor of the three-story, 4,320 sq. ft. building there will be a calming space for youth, pantry and an area for group events and classes. The second floor will consist of a private intake kiosk and office spaces for Yurok Behavioral Health staff, professional therapists and external service providers. The top floor will include a cultural classroom, game room, a computer station for virtual medical appointments, as well as space for mutual support groups and parenting classes. An amphitheater and traditional sweathouse will be constructed outside of the youth center.

The Yurok Youth Center will offer a wide variety of culturally centered services for local youth between 12 and 23 years old including clinical services, outpatient treatment for substance use disorder tutoring, and school-linked health care services such as individual and family therapy. Yurok Health and Human Services and other tribal departments will put on culturally relevant community wellness events and youth prevention activities at the center as well. Additionally, the building will contain a legal clinic and a foster care office staffed by personnel who can help youth navigate the justice or foster care systems.

Due to numerous factors, young members of the Yurok Tribe and many other tribes across the U.S. experience behavioral health conditions far more frequently than their non-tribal counterparts. To begin addressing this issue, Shoshoni Gensaw-Hostler, Yurok Health and Human Services (YHHS) Suicide Prevention Program Manager, and Alita Redner, former YHHS Clinician in 2021 applied for and received a $150,000 grant from the California Department of Healthcare Services’ Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program (BHCIP) to start developing plans for the youth center project. In a few short months, they completed a feasibility study, obtained stakeholder feedback, identified a site for construction and developed the initial concepts for the facility. With guidance from the Yurok Tribal Council, Yurok Planning and Community Development Department, grant writer Ray Moisa and Gensaw-Hostler completed the concept design for the new facility and secured the competitive $7,975,438 BHCIP award for the construction of the green-built center. Yurok tribal youth participated in each part of the decision-making process to ensure the project meets their unique needs.

“It is extremely important for youth to have a meaningful say in the decisions that affect their lives,” said Hostler. “We want to empower local teens and young adults to become resilient, independent and successful adults. For many years, we have needed a youth center in the Weitchpec area and I’m so grateful it is finally going to be a reality.”

In the spring, the Yurok Tribe’s Per-Geesh Construction Corporation will begin building the new facility. The green building will be constructed with natural materials that are representative of the tribe’s culture.