Runaway and Homeless Youth Grantees in Colorado Raise Awareness Through PSAs

Two Runaway and Homeless Youth grantees in Colorado have recently released public service announcements highlighting the experiences of homeless young people throughout the state. The 30-second spots, created by the Colorado Rural Collaborative and Denver’s Urban Peak, have been airing on television since November, and are now available on YouTube.

The Urban Peak public service announcement features a young woman describing the despair she felt while homeless. “There’s nothing worse than no hope, feeling like nobody cares,” she says, as statistics spell out the dangers that Colorado’s estimated 1,500 homeless youth endure every night.

Robert Ham, Urban Peak’s Marketing and Media Relations Manager, says that the organization has filmed more than 40 similar youth interviews over the last five years in collaboration with a video production company. He chose this particular young woman’s testimonial to air as a public service announcement during Homeless Youth Awareness Month in November 2011. The spot has run on local NBC, PBS, CBS and Fox affiliates, as well as a Denver sports network called Altitude.

“It’s garnered a lot of attention,” Ham says. “We’re very well branded now in Denver, for being the size [of organization] that we are. That kind of recognition helps add credibility when an organization is trying to raise money, either through fundraisers or grants.”

The Colorado Rural Collaborative produced three announcements last year through member organization Lutheran Family Services. All three feature formerly homeless young people in their early 20s explaining the circumstances that led to their running away. The Collaborative’s motto, “A Couch is Not a Home,” concludes each announcement.

Wendy Coffman, Communications Coordinator for Lutheran Family Services, says she traveled with a video production company to a small town called Rifle, where they filmed their young subjects talking about their experiences on the streets.

“They took us to place where they used to sleep,” Coffman says. “They took us to the trashcans where they picked out their meals.”

The Collaborative has aired their public service announcements in rural communities throughout Colorado. “A lot of the adults aren’t even aware there’s a problem,” Coffman says. “We want people to say, ‘I have teens of my own, I want to invite one of these kids to stay with us and help them finish school.’”

Urban Peak is planning to shoot another video in September, to be aired during the 2012 National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. The Colorado Rural Youth Collaborative is working to bring their existing videos in to more counties and communities throughout the state.

Watch the Colorado Collaborative PSAs

Watch the Urban Peak PSA