Ruth Ellis Center

Principles that amplify our presence and impact.

Our Guiding Principles

Steadfast principles
shape our work.

Principles of work are the driving force behind our programs; principles of work make Ruth Ellis Center successful and meaningful to our young people. But, most importantly, principles of work inform how we "show up" for our staff and community alike.

The foundation for our principles of work is racial and gender equity; they form an imperative and strategic base that shapes the work we do.

Racial Equity Statement
Principles of Work

Trauma Informed Care

Providing support and treatment with sensitivity and understanding, recognizing the impact of an individual's trauma.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) concept of a trauma-informed approach, a program, organization, or system that is trauma-informed:

  • Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery
  • Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system
  • Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices
  • Seeks to resist re-traumatization actively

A trauma-informed approach can be implemented in any type of service setting or organization and is distinct from trauma-specific interventions or treatments that are designed specifically to address the consequences of trauma and to facilitate healing.

Restorative Justice

Resolving conflicts through the lens of social equity.

Transformative justice responds to the lack of, and the critical need for, a liberatory approach to violence. A liberatory approach seeks safety and accountability without relying on alienation, punishment, or State or systemic violence, including incarceration and policing.


Under the umbrella of Transformative Justice, restorative justice is the primary tool used to implement this principle.

Harm Reduction

Prioritizing healing, social support, and accountability to respond to, prevent or address harmful behaviors.

Harm reduction refers to policies and practices that aim primarily to reduce the adverse health, social, and economic consequences of high-risk behaviors and benefit people engaging in them, their families, and their communities.

  • An approach based on a strong commitment to public health and human rights;
  • A targeted approach that focuses on specific risks and harms;
  • An evidence-based and cost-effective approach that is practical and feasible;
  • An incremental approach that is facilitative rather than coercive and is grounded in the needs of the individual;
  • An approach that requires practitioners to accept youth as they are and avoid being judgmental;
  • An approach that requires open, honest dialogue between all stakeholders;
  • An approach that recognizes the value of all persons regardless of what behaviors they exhibit; and,
  • An approach that acknowledges ANY positive change an individual makes.

Excerpted from RHYTTAC, Presenter, Cassidy, TC “Harm Reduction, Positive Youth Development, and Trauma Informed Care: What are they and How do they Operationalize in Youth Serving Programs” January 2013. PowerPoint.

Positive Youth Development

Fostering strengths, skills, and capacities of young people to help them thrive and reach their full potential.

Positive Youth Development (PYD) is a comprehensive framework outlining the support young people need to be successful. PYD emphasizes the importance of focusing on youths’ strengths instead of their risk factors to ensure that all youth become contributing adults.

Research shows that only four out of ten young people are doing well, and survey results from the Gallup Student Poll suggest that a majority of youth in the U.S. are not hopeful, engaged, and thriving. Policymakers most often focus on the negative behaviors or risk factors that youth face and emphasize reducing statistics such as teen pregnancy or dropout rates.

Positive youth development focuses on building the positive attributes young people need to succeed. It emphasizes the support and services necessary to help youth transition through various stages of their development. States and policymakers are beginning to use this framework to develop policies and programs to ensure that all youth are ready for college, work, and life.

Courtesy of National Conference of State Legislatures

We envision a world where LGBTQ+ young people are safe and supported no matter where they go.

By living our principles, we aim to inspire individuals, organizations, and beyond—building a world that aligns with our vision for the future.