Like an extended family, Identity teaches and models for young people, ages 7-25, the social-emotional, academic and workforce skills they need to thrive in the modern world.

Programs and services are provided after school, in the community and on playing fields and are complimented by family case management, mental health and substance abuse counseling, non-clinical emotional support, and recreation. We also work to empower parents to engage in their children’s education and be champions for their success and the success of the community. Our youth and parents are full partners in the planning and implementation of Identity’s direct service and advocacy efforts.

Our culturally and linguistically appropriate, trauma-informed programs and services are based on and further Positive Youth Development competencies that build and strengthen qualities that enable youth to grow and flourish throughout life.

Like family, we celebrate their victories and offer help when something extra is needed.

To view a list of locations where Identity provides programs and services, please visit the Contact Us page.

Click on the topics below for an overview of our approach and an introduction to our programs.

Research-based Programming
We draw on evidence-based best practice models and conduct extensive assessments to guide the design and content of our programs. This research also serves to educate policymakers on key issues facing the Latino population in the county.

Integrated Service Delivery
The designs of our programs involve an integrated approach that allows youth participating in a specific program to access services from other programs. For instance, a GED participant may also receive career readiness training or participate in conflict resolution sessions. In addition, all our school-based programs incorporate a parent education component, as well as wraparound support to the youth and their families through case management services and mental health counseling.

Identity has developed rigorous data collection and evaluation methods for all our programs. We have designed several program- and site-specific tools and surveys to collect baseline and exit data, which are analyzed by an external evaluator. The assessment of the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of the youth is ongoing and used by program managers to determine emerging needs, monitor program effectiveness, and inform program design.

Identity’s Staff
Our staff is bilingual and bicultural—approximately 80% are of Latino descent—and well-suited to serve our target population. Our partner staff extend our language and cultural competencies so we are able to assist other populations as well.

Multiplier Effect
Youth who participate in Identity’s programs are not considered one-time participants in a specific activity, but become life-long members of our community. Identity provides them with a platform for continued engagement well beyond their participation in a specific program, such as involvement in volunteer, civic, and community service activities. This continued engagement broadens the multiplier effect of the programs, providing continuity to their scope and objectives.

The theoretical framework for our programming is Positive Youth Development (PYD). This is a strengths-based model that views youth as assets to be nourished rather than problems to be fixed.

The model encourages the identification and strengthening of protective factors in youths’ lives which will assist them in responding to a multitude of risk factors they may encounter in their relationships and in their environment.

Our programs include many evidence-based PYD constructs, such as:

  • Developing a youth’s relationship with a healthy adult and healthy positive peers (bonding).
  • Training and practice in developmentally appropriate interpersonal skills such as communication, assertiveness, refusal and resistance, and conflict-resolution (social competence).
  • Teaching skills and providing reinforcement for effective behavior choices and action patterns (behavioral competence).
  • Employing strategies for encouraging youth to develop clear and explicit standards for behavior that minimize health risks and support pro-social involvement (fostering pro-social norms).

Identity recognizes the prevalence of trauma among our client population, and we implement a trauma-informed approach to care in both our clinical and non-clinical settings.

We routinely assess our clients’ adverse experiences, and provide ongoing training to staff to increase their understanding of the signs and symptoms of trauma, and their ability to create a safe environment for clients and avoid clients’ re-traumatization.

For more information about childhood trauma, trauma-informed approaches to care, or training opportunities, see the following links:

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) — overview of a trauma-informed approach to care and trauma-specific interventions

The Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress – Training Academy Portfolio

We connect with many youth through our Wellness Centers and Youth Opportunity Centers.

We operate four of the county’s high school Wellness Centers (at Wheaton High School, Watkins Mill High School, Gaithersburg High School, and Seneca Valley High School) which provide a broad array of programs and services focused on supporting the physical, social, emotional, and mental well-being of the students throughout their high-school years.

Identity also operates two Youth Opportunity Centers (in Gaithersburg and Takoma Park) that reach out to young people facing especially challenging situations. Many have dropped out of school and do not have jobs. Lack of English-language skills may impede their job seeking success. Some have been involved with gangs. Some struggle with substance abuse or mental health issues. Many have experienced trauma.

Our Youth Opportunity Centers represent a positive and stabilizing influence in their lives and a source of referrals to needed services.

We support our clients’ successful transition to adulthood by providing a continuum of school-based programs, summer programs, and community-based services in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Academic Support and Workforce Development.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
Identity offers a range of Positive Youth Development prevention and intervention programs. These programs are designed to build SEL competencies that decrease risk factors and reduce problem behaviors. Learn more about SEL. Learn more.

Academic Support
Identity offers engaging and culturally competent academic support for students who have interrupted education, a fragile connection to school and/or are falling behind grade level. Academic support programs include: Jóvenes de Mañana, a Reading and Social-Emotional Skill-Building program delivered at three high-need elementary schools; Líderes de Mañana, an enrichment program in three middle schools to increase students’ social-emotional skills; a summer Bridge Program for rising 9th graders; ESL (English as a Second Language); and GED preparation. Learn more.

Workforce Development
From job-readiness training and academic enrichment, to life skills and wraparound services, we help youth transition to higher education and the world of work. Our goal is to help youth experience steady employment, grow professionally, and move toward self-sufficiency. Learn more.

Identity offers a variety of programs that support and augment our programmatic building blocks of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Academic Support and Workforce Development.

These targeted programs respond to critical needs and strategic opportunities to make a difference for those we serve. They all reflect Identity’s focus on SEL and Positive Youth Development, and they all further our mission to help youth and families achieve their highest potential.

We run a county-wide soccer program for youth. Youth in other Identity programs also have opportunities to participate in recreational activities, including volleyball, basketball, hiking, and swimming. Learn more.

Gang Prevention
Identity offers a range of services to prevent gang involvement, provide alternatives to gang involvement, and assist youth to transition out of gangs. Learn more.

Wraparound Services
We provide accessible, culturally sensitive mental health counseling and case management to youth and families. Learn more.

Parent Engagement
As part of our family-centered approach, Identity breaks down barriers to parent engagement and offers opportunities for parents to become more involved. Learn more.

The ultimate goal of Identity’s advocacy work is for in-school and out-of-school Latino youth in Montgomery County to have the same resources, supports and opportunities as other young people in the county to succeed educationally, emotionally and occupationally.

Learn more about our Advocacy efforts – or visit Be an Advocate for information on how you can be an ally and champion for Latino youth and families in Montgomery County.

To learn more about the youth and families in our programs, visit Who We Serve.

Identity accepts client referrals for our programs and services.

Individuals may also ask for help directly by filling out the referral form.


On the form, you can select English or Spanish in the upper right corner.
En el formulario, puede seleccionar inglés o español en la esquina superior derecha.