The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Honors Martin Rafferty’s Inspirational Life Journey


Martin Rafferty, Executive Director of Youth ERA (formerly Youth MOVE Oregon) is one of a small group of people worldwide being featured at the Launch of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center.

The Discovery Center is the Foundation’s newest exhibit. It aims to motivate and inspire people to take action—in their own unique ways—to improve the lives of others. Through displays, interactive exhibits, and programs, it hopes to spark conversation about global and local issues and highlight the important progress being made in Seattle and around the world. It is designed as a place where people can share ideas, explore their interests, and experience the power of optimism about the world’s future.

Gates Foundation Recognizes Rafferty’s Meteoric Rise as a Leading National Youth Advocate
Rafferty, who lives in Eugene, Oregon, is being honored for overcoming homelessness at age 12 to start at non-profit when 22 years old to help youth navigate and change the system to better meet mental health, crisis counseling, education, and foster care needs. Now 27, he’s transforming YMO into Youth ERA, launching an effort to take the model nationwide to train programs across the country to effectively reach and serve youth.


Youth ERA has developed from an idea to a project to a fully-fledged organization that has impacted the lives of over 875,000 youth and helped youth-serving organizations in 39 states (and counting) develop a better understanding of how to implement youth-driven mental health services programming. It is staffed entirely by young people who have had experience with and in the system.

Youth ERA has gone beyond other youth advocacy organizations nationally to provide a robust range of services and supports. These include drop-in youth centers in four Oregon communities, special programs (Youth Builder, Empowerment Recovery Academy) that teach disenfranchised youth leadership and positive youth development skills, Peer Intercept programs for youth experiencing suicidal inclinations, wraparound partner programs, and crisis response.

The organization is particularly recognized both nationally and across the globe as a leading expert in effective youth-driven response to instances of school violence. Staff are trained to utilize a trauma-informed and stigma-aware approach to provide relief for students recovering from school-based trauma. It has deployed immediately to recent crises such as the shootings at Umpqua Community College and Ohio State University.

The Discovery Center is featuring 8 individuals who are making a difference in the world through effective innovation. The launch celebration is November 2.

“I’m incredibly honored to be included in this group of individuals,” said Rafferty. “There are so many people who help youth in our communities. They are the real heroes upon whose work I’ve built.”

Please take a moment to join me in recognizing Martin Rafferty for this incredible honor.

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Jammie Farish
Operations Manager
Youth MOVE Oregon / Youth ERA

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