case study

Young United Parents! (YUP!)


We used human-centered design to create an app to support and empower young parents


The Issue

Young parents are often marginalized and experience stigma and social isolation.

These factors are associated with poor physical and mental health outcomes for parents and their children.

There are currently no apps or websites designed to meet the specific needs of parents ages 24 and under.

The Outcomes

We developed Young United Parents! (YUP!) to support young mothers and fathers thrive and be the best parents possible.

We collaborated with nearly 200 young parents, over a multi-year human-centered design process, to create an app with incredible appeal and utility.

YUP! is currently co-led by a paid team of young parents that provides direction on every aspect of the program.

Partnering with Young Mothers and Fathers

Beginning in 2018, our team, comprised of Aaron Plant of Sentient Research, Jenna Gaarde (previously at the San Francisco Department of Public Health), and Joann Schladale of Resources for Resolving Violence, Inc. designed YUP! through two rounds of funding from Power to Decide (through an Innovation Next grant from HHS, Office of Population affairs). We used human-centered design to collaborate with providers at parent-serving organizations and 167 young parents (107 mothers and 60 fathers) through iterative rounds of interviews, focus groups, prototype testing, and surveys to identify the most pressing issues young parents face. Our goal was to create a compelling, holistic technology program to support and empower young parents.The young parents we collaborated with had multiple competing priorities; many reported social isolation and a history of trauma. They were proud, strong, and resilient; problem-solvers; goal-oriented; and dedicated to being the best possible parents. They wanted a program where they could interact with and learn from peers and parenting experts, and get help accessing available resources. They loved the idea of a community that is just for young parents, as many did not feel comfortable sharing on existing social media platforms.

YUP! offers holistic, engaging content, helpful tools, and a community of peers to help young moms and dads to be the best possible parents. .

The YUP! app and mobile website are here to help pregnant and parenting mothers and fathers ages 16–24 overcome social isolation and stigma through a supportive community of young parents. It’s free for parents to use. YUP! gives parents the information, inspiration, skills, and resources they need to thrive, celebrate important milestones, and meet their goals. The program emphasizes the great parts of being a parent, while also offering assistance for the tough parts.YUP! provides a wide range of medically accurate information in a simple user interface, and facilitates access of local resources. Most content is delivered through brief videos of diverse young parents and experts. Plus, YUP! offers parents different ways to interact with a community of peers, through groups, direct messages, live events, and discussions.

Meeting the Needs of the Most Vulnerable Young Parents.YUP! has the advantage of being created by and for young parents, who have very specific life experiences and needs. We have assembled a paid team of young mothers and fathers that contribute their own content to the program, serve as program ambassadors, and help sustain and manage YUP!. Our human-centered design process has included working with many young mothers and fathers who are currently or have been unhoused and involved in juvenile justice or foster care systems. We are committed to addressing the needs of these young parents.

Evaluation and Expansion

YUP! is being evaluated by The Policy and Research Group through a grant from HHS Administration for Children and Families. This five-year randomized controlled study will complete in 2026.

For more information, watch the YUP! videos below and visit