This article articulates the theoretical construct of empowerment and its importance for health-enhancing strategies to reduce health disparities. Powerlessness is explored as a risk factor in the context of social determinants, such as poverty, discrimination, workplace hazards, and income inequities. Empowerment is presented and compared with social capital and community capacity as strategies to strengthen social protective factors. A case study of a youth empowerment and policy project in New Mexico illustrates the usefulness of empowerment strategies in both targeting social determinants, such as public policies which are detrimental to youth, and improving community capacities of youth to be advocates for social change. Challenges for future practice and research are articulated.