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The skills and experiences that the Phoenix program provides are critical during the developmental stage of adolescence, during which youth are undergoing rapid physical, emotional, and cognitive changes.

Social connection and emotional health are two sides of the same coin, and the presence or absence of which influence academic outcomes. Without a strong foundation of healthy and supportive relationships and mental wellness, young people may struggle to meet personal goals, as well as the expectations of their schools and communities. The Phoenix program provides students with the tools and experiences to develop a strong social-emotional foundation.


Students who have attended the Phoenix program identified several areas of struggle in their lives, many of which are reflected in national trends.  

  • Feeling overwhelmed by difficult emotions, including stress and anxiety, sadness and hopelessness, anger, and confusion

  • Experiences of loneliness, disconnection, and isolation

  • Unwillingness to open up and express emotions to others

  • Low self-worth and inauthenticity

  • Negative and judgmental attitudes toward others and toward life

  • Social anxiety and difficulty talking to others

  • Apathy and lack of motivation

The goal of the program is to empower youth to take responsibility for their lives by providing them opportunities to:

  • develop authentic connections with peers and adults to build a community of support

  • gain awareness and tools to understand and navigate relationships, emotions, and life circumstances

  • identify and embrace personal strengths, values, and positive qualities

  • reflect on the past and set intentions for the future while supporting and witnessing others in the process


I was very unhappy. I didn’t have people to hangout with and had no one to trust. I had lots of anxiety and I was the most depressed. I was fake towards people and judgmental.”

Phoenix Alumni


[Before Phoenix], I was very anxious and experiencing a lot of internal conflict. I felt as if I was fighting against the world and myself to find peace. I saw everything as a struggle.”




Born This Way Foundation and Benenson Strategy Group.. (26 July 2017). Kind Communities:  A Bridge to Youth Mental Wellness Study. Published online.

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Levett-Jones, T. & Lathlean, J. (2008). Belongingness: A prerequisite for nursing students’ clinical learning. Nurse Education in Practice, 8, 103-111.

Merikangas, K. R., He, J., Burstein, M., Swanson, S. A., Avenevoli, S., Cui, L., … Swendsen, J. (2010). Lifetime Prevalence of Mental Disorders in US Adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Study-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(10), 980–989.

Seppala, Emma & Rossomando, Timothy & R. Doty, James. (2013). Social Connection and Compassion: Important Predictors of Health and Well-Being. Social Research: An International Quarterly. 80. 411-430.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families. (2011). Child Maltreatment 2011. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. (26 Oct. 2015). The Emotional Revolution. Online Survey of 22,000 High School-Age Youth. Published online.