Youth Civic Engagement Collaborative Program Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Civic Engagement, Youth Development, Youth Services, Youth Voting, Volunteering
Deadline:
Mar. 27, 2020

“Funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, YSA’s Youth Service Zone grants offer organizations and schools an opportunity to work collaboratively to increase the youth volunteer rates in their community.

Each zone will receive a grant of $15,000 ($5,000 to each of the three collaborative leaders) to support program activities. Applicants may work locally (city, county, school district), regionally, or statewide, and must be based in the United States. The geographic area of each proposed Zone should include at least 100,000 residents. We expect to award 5 grants to statewide Zones and 5 grants to local or regional zones (city, metro area, county, school district, etc.).

Each collaborative will set a shared goal of increasing the youth volunteer rate in their  community or state above the rate from the most recent Volunteering in America report (or comparable report) by:

  1. Asking youth to serve and connecting them to organizations with service programs and to specific volunteer opportunities through caring adults or peer leaders
  2. Providing training to adults about how to effectively engage youth as volunteers and to youth develop the leadership skills to organize their own service projects that create opportunities for themselves and their peers;
  3. Creating a plan to identify and address barriers to youth volunteering in the community, including transportation, legal/liability, access, issues; and
  4. Developing marketing and outreach to reach youth who are disengaged.”

Funder: The Corporation for National and Community Service and Youth Service America
Eligibility:
“Each collaborative applying will be required to have 3 organizations of different types from the following options committed to leading this initiative. | At a city/county level: (1) School district/LEA, (2) Youth development collaborative, (3) Citywide afterschool or mentoring program, (4) Volunteer center or United Way, (5) Mayor’s office/Chief Service Officer, (6) local higher education consortium. | At the state level: (1) State education agency, (2) State afterschool network, (3) State mentoring network, (4) High school activity league, (5) Statewide nonprofit association, (6) State service commission, (7) State Campus Compact. | Other types of tax-exempt organizations can serve as collaborative leaders, but the types above are preferred.”
Amount: $15,000 ($5,000 to each of the three collaborative leaders)
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

The post Youth Civic Engagement Collaborative Program Grants appeared first on Youth Today.


Jacksonville Organization Attacks Violence, Blight With Holistic Approach

Zane Hall

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Nov. 14, Gary Ervin attended a vigil for a young life cut tragically short by gun violence. Days earlier, a 15-year-old was killed in a shooting near a Burger King on the northwest side of Jacksonville.

Ervin’s voice trembles with emotion as he recalls standing among the mourners as they cried and prayed. Now 47, he thinks of himself at that age. “I should be dead,” he says.

Ervin is a supervisor at Bridges to the Cure, a Cure Violence program, run by the Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation. NJCDC is one of two sites for the Cure Violence program that launched in the city last June.

The program, founded in 2000 in Chicago, uses a public health approach that treats violence like an infection that begins with a shooting, spreads to family and friends seeking retribution, then to others and so on. To stop the infection, it hires violence interrupters like Ervin — people with credibility in the streets, some with a criminal past — to try to stop violence before it occurs.

A violence interrupter program may seem a strange fit for a nonprofit that began as a residential real estate developer focused primarily on first-time homebuyers, but the goals actually align. Crime and economics are, after all, intertwined. The nonprofit NJCDC is dedicated to community revitalization in one of the areas of the city where opportunity is scarce and crime is high.

Ervin himself embodies the change that NJCDC is working to create.

Ervin was 15 years old the first time he went to jail. For years he was in and out of a cell. He’s sold drugs. He’s shot people. “I’ve been one of the highest-ranked gang members on the block,” he said. He was most recently released from prison in 2015.

In the last five years, Ervin has turned his life around. He’s working a straight job for the first time in his life. Thanks to NJCDC, he’s a homeowner. The encouragement of NJCDC CEO Paul Tutwiler led Ervin to start working toward his GED. He used to be ashamed to admit that while his street education taught him math, he didn’t know how to read until recently.

“If you asked me how to read, I would freeze,” he said with pride. “… Now I can read to my children.”

For a long time, Ervin didn’t see any future beyond selling drugs. Now through his work with Bridges to the Cure and coaching kids in a nearby football team, he is trying to inspire the next generation to aspire to life outside of crime.

A problem with no easy solutions

Jacksonville has struggled with violence for decades. Although this sprawling coastal city has seen violence and crime decrease with the rest of the nation over the last few decades, murder rates per capita have remained consistently higher than most cities. Last year’s 158 homicides, according to the Florida Times-Union, made Jacksonville yet again the murder capital of Florida. The local sheriff’s office reports 130 were murders; as of Jan. 1, more than a dozen homicides hadn’t been classified. The vast majority of victims are black males.

Interactive Map of Gun Violence in Duval County, Fla. 2014-20

Credit: Meghan Meier and Ian Blackburn/Kennesaw State University Department of Geography and Anthropology

In the 32209 ZIP code where NJCDC is located and its work is focused, the homicide rate is even higher than the rest of the city. In 2017, the most recent year for which the T-U’s homicide tracker has geographic data, there were 26 murders here — or 73 per capita. That’s a higher rate than every other city in America; if 32209 was a nation unto itself, that year it would have also had the highest murder rate in the world.

Other metrics — poverty, health, infant mortality, property value, education — demonstrate the struggles in a community that was once home to many of the city’s affluent black residents, who called their neighborhood Sugar Hill.

Interactive Map of Poverty in Duval County, Fla.

Credit: Ian Blackburn and Meghan Meier/Kennesaw State University Department of Geography and Anthropology

Desegregation in the 1950s, followed a decade later by the consolidation of city and county governments, drained wealth from Jacksonville’s black communities, as those with the means migrated to areas that were once nearly all-white suburbs.

By the turn of the century, northwest Jacksonville was a ghost of its former self. Crime was stubbornly high. Opportunities were few. The sweetness of Sugar Hill was gone, but not forgotten.

Building their way out of crime

Paul Tutwiler, 59, took the helm of NJCDC in 2002. At the time the organization was dedicated to residential real estate development.

“Largely we were trying to ‘build our way out of crime,’” Tutwiler said.

Much of the property that NJCDC develops comes from the city, which donates lots that are vacant and often in disrepair. By turning crumbling, abandoned buildings that serve as a magnet for unlawful activity and blight into single-family homes, it thought it could accomplish its twin goals of lowering crime and improving values.

The nonprofit sold its first home in 2004, which began a period of prosperity. Tutwiler says there were a lot of successes in those early years, thanks in part to the contemporaneous housing boom. Crime went down, blight started to disappear and property values went up. NJCDC’s developments inspired neighboring residents to improve their own homes.

“Our first house we sold for $70,000. At peak market that same house went for $135,000,” Tutwiler said. “So we were like, ‘yes.’”

[Related: Paul Tutwiler’s Mission of Revitalizing Communities Takes Him Back to His Roots]

They also started to see wealth migrate back to the community.

Sheila A. Preston, 65, was one of NJCDC’s early clients. She’d been a homeless couch surfer — she calls it “pillow to post,” after a 1945 film about a traveling saleswoman looking for a place to sleep — for about two years when a friend’s daughter told her about NJCDC.

“I don’t think [Tutwiler] knew I was homeless,” she said.

NJCDC requires potential homebuyers to have a $500 deposit and to qualify with a bank for a loan. Preston had the money; like many homeless people she was employed, and her credit met the threshold for the bank’s underwriters.

In August 2006, she became a homeowner. “I had a place to lay my head,” Preston said.

Today she’s retired, but keeps busy volunteering at her church, with the elderly and at NJCDC. She says Tutwiler is a visionary.

“He is rebuilding a better neighborhood,” she said.

Fueled by home buyers like Preston who bring stability to their neighborhoods, which has a ripple effect on other residents, Tutwiler says crime fell by up to 40% on some blocks they developed.

“That was our plan, and we were really excited about making that happen,” he said.

Then the bottom fell out of the real estate market.

New approach inspired by a great recession 

All sectors of the economy were deeply impacted by the Great Recession, but none more than the housing market. Home values plummeted, foreclosures skyrocketed and new mortgages slowed a trickle.

The financial decline caused some reversals in NJCDC’s successes. Much as in the decades after desegregation, more affluent residents started moving away. Crime increased.

During this time, NJCDC concluded that no matter how many homes it built or remodeled, residential development alone wasn’t going to be enough. Tearing down a crack house doesn’t eradicate the drug trade; it just moves it elsewhere. By the same token, it had to deal with existing residents.

“Building alone will not help us change the neighborhood, we have to kind of deal with the residents that are embedded here. We can’t ignore it,” Tutwiler said.

It needed to think bigger and broader.

One of the challenges, he said, was and continues to be figuring out how to bring back an economic base. Houses are great, but if people don’t have jobs they can’t buy them. Similarly, commuting is an option, but people prefer to live, work and play in one neighborhood. None of that happens in isolation.

This was the beginning of what has evolved into a holistic approach to community revitalization. In addition to real estate development, today NJCDC and its partners provides services and opportunities geared toward education, job training, nutrition and reducing violence.

NJCDC received Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds during recession recovery and a sizable grant from the Local Initiatives Support Corp., both of which enabled them to survive and expand their efforts.

In 2011, its first large-scale commercial development, the North Point Town Center — a $4 million, 10,600 square-foot commercial space — opened to much fanfare. Today the building houses NJCDC and numerous other businesses. The second phase is currently under construction.

Where previously they only built and remodeled freestanding homes, now NJCDC built an 80-unit senior living facility and renovated a 50-unit apartment complex.

It also continued building and remodeling homes, 100 it sold and another 50 that are rentals. Driving around its neighborhood you’ll see block after block of well-maintained houses in a rainbow of colors.

It has also greatly diversified their programming. NJCDC and its partners offer classes in financial literacy, health and wellness, job training, networking opportunities, legal referral services and more. NJCDC collects and distributes school supplies and works with neighborhood associations on beautification initiatives.

Some things change

Looking to capitalize on its assets, both historic and present-day, NJCDC helped rename the area the District of Soul. Tutwiler talks about the importance of changing perceptions so that residents and nonresidents associate the neighborhood with more than just crime and blight, such as the fact that Hank Aaron played baseball here, or that there are immensely talented musicians and artists who live here today, as well as some of the best food in the city.

“We think it’s critical that the people who live here both love and respect the grounds they happen to grace every day,” Tutwiler said.

Some endeavors have proved more challenging than others. Nine years ago, NJCDC started trying to bring a grocery store to the lot it owns across the street from the North Point development. The neighborhood is a food desert; next to violent crime, lack of access to fresh foods is one of the residents’ biggest complaints. Today it’s still working on getting that grocery store. Tutwiler concedes it’s been his white whale.

NJCDC has its critics. Some worry that its ultimate goal will cause gentrification that prices residents out of the neighborhood.

Then there’s the fact that, for all NJCDC’s endeavors, poverty and crime, much of it violent, plagues the neighborhood.

On Jan. 7, politicians from across the city assembled here for a press conference. A traffic stop had turned into an officer-involved shooting that left a 17-year-old dead; a gun was found in the car.

“It’s a war out here,” said Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman, who represents the district. “We need an implementation plan that’s now, that’s got some teeth in it.”

There is an ever-present need for greater opportunity, she said. 

These are the same things people have been hearing and saying for years. Tutwiler acknowledges that it will take years to change. Crime and poverty didn’t happen in Northwest Jacksonville overnight; it took decades. Tutwiler looks at the solution to these issues in a similar light. It will take decades to achieve success.

“Nineteen years of learning along the way, we’ve had to come to certain terms,” he said. “The first one is the reality is it’s a work in progress, it’s always evolving.”

As another example of its evolution, in its more recent history, NJCDC has taken on business incubation. Tutwiler says they’ve approached people selling clothes or shoes out of the trunk of a car and later helped them open their own storefront.

“It was important for us to take that on as part of our programming, to take them where they were,” he said.

Gary Ervin says that Tutwiler has already started encouraging the Bridges to the Cure staff, many of whom, if not all, have criminal records, to open businesses in the next phase of NJCDC’s commercial development.

“I’m thinking about opening a restaurant,” said Ervin, who loves to cook.

NJCDC began with the mission of revitalizing the community through residential real estate development. Its goal remains the same; it’s the means that have changed.

“You’re gonna build a house on one street, that’s awesome …” Tutwiler said. “If you’re going to change the entire neighborhood, that’s a different task.”

This is part of Youth Today’s project on targeting gun violence. Support is provided by The Kendeda Fund. Youth Today is solely responsible for the content and maintains editorial independence.

The post Jacksonville Organization Attacks Violence, Blight With Holistic Approach appeared first on Youth Today.


Jacksonville Organization Attacks Violence, Blight With Holistic Approach

Zane Hall

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Nov. 14, Gary Ervin attended a vigil for a young life cut tragically short by gun violence. Days earlier, a 15-year-old was killed in a shooting near a Burger King on the northwest side of Jacksonville.

Ervin’s voice trembles with emotion as he recalls standing among the mourners as they cried and prayed. Now 47, he thinks of himself at that age. “I should be dead,” he says.

Ervin is a supervisor at Bridges to the Cure, a Cure Violence program, run by the Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation. NJCDC is one of two sites for the Cure Violence program that launched in the city last June.

The program, founded in 2000 in Chicago, uses a public health approach that treats violence like an infection that begins with a shooting, spreads to family and friends seeking retribution, then to others and so on. To stop the infection, it hires violence interrupters like Ervin — people with credibility in the streets, some with a criminal past — to try to stop violence before it occurs.

A violence interrupter program may seem a strange fit for a nonprofit that began as a residential real estate developer focused primarily on first-time homebuyers, but the goals actually align. Crime and economics are, after all, intertwined. The nonprofit NJCDC is dedicated to community revitalization in one of the areas of the city where opportunity is scarce and crime is high.

Ervin himself embodies the change that NJCDC is working to create.

Ervin was 15 years old the first time he went to jail. For years he was in and out of a cell. He’s sold drugs. He’s shot people. “I’ve been one of the highest-ranked gang members on the block,” he said. He was most recently released from prison in 2015.

In the last five years, Ervin has turned his life around. He’s working a straight job for the first time in his life. Thanks to NJCDC, he’s a homeowner. The encouragement of NJCDC CEO Paul Tutwiler led Ervin to start working toward his GED. He used to be ashamed to admit that while his street education taught him math, he didn’t know how to read until recently.

“If you asked me how to read, I would freeze,” he said with pride. “… Now I can read to my children.”

For a long time, Ervin didn’t see any future beyond selling drugs. Now through his work with Bridges to the Cure and coaching kids in a nearby football team, he is trying to inspire the next generation to aspire to life outside of crime.

A problem with no easy solutions

Jacksonville has struggled with violence for decades. Although this sprawling coastal city has seen violence and crime decrease with the rest of the nation over the last few decades, murder rates per capita have remained consistently higher than most cities. Last year’s 158 homicides, according to the Florida Times-Union, made Jacksonville yet again the murder capital of Florida. The local sheriff’s office reports 130 were murders; as of Jan. 1, more than a dozen homicides hadn’t been classified. The vast majority of victims are black males.

Interactive Map of Gun Violence in Duval County, Fla. 2014-20

Credit: Meghan Meier and Ian Blackburn/Kennesaw State University Department of Geography and Anthropology

In the 32209 ZIP code where NJCDC is located and its work is focused, the homicide rate is even higher than the rest of the city. In 2017, the most recent year for which the T-U’s homicide tracker has geographic data, there were 26 murders here — or 73 per capita. That’s a higher rate than every other city in America; if 32209 was a nation unto itself, that year it would have also had the highest murder rate in the world.

Other metrics — poverty, health, infant mortality, property value, education — demonstrate the struggles in a community that was once home to many of the city’s affluent black residents, who called their neighborhood Sugar Hill.

Interactive Map of Poverty in Duval County, Fla.

Credit: Ian Blackburn and Meghan Meier/Kennesaw State University Department of Geography and Anthropology

Desegregation in the 1950s, followed a decade later by the consolidation of city and county governments, drained wealth from Jacksonville’s black communities, as those with the means migrated to areas that were once nearly all-white suburbs.

By the turn of the century, northwest Jacksonville was a ghost of its former self. Crime was stubbornly high. Opportunities were few. The sweetness of Sugar Hill was gone, but not forgotten.

Building their way out of crime

Paul Tutwiler, 59, took the helm of NJCDC in 2002. At the time the organization was dedicated to residential real estate development.

“Largely we were trying to ‘build our way out of crime,’” Tutwiler said.

Much of the property that NJCDC develops comes from the city, which donates lots that are vacant and often in disrepair. By turning crumbling, abandoned buildings that serve as a magnet for unlawful activity and blight into single-family homes, it thought it could accomplish its twin goals of lowering crime and improving values.

The nonprofit sold its first home in 2004, which began a period of prosperity. Tutwiler says there were a lot of successes in those early years, thanks in part to the contemporaneous housing boom. Crime went down, blight started to disappear and property values went up. NJCDC’s developments inspired neighboring residents to improve their own homes.

“Our first house we sold for $70,000. At peak market that same house went for $135,000,” Tutwiler said. “So we were like, ‘yes.’”

[Related: Paul Tutwiler’s Mission of Revitalizing Communities Takes Him Back to His Roots]

They also started to see wealth migrate back to the community.

Sheila A. Preston, 65, was one of NJCDC’s early clients. She’d been a homeless couch surfer — she calls it “pillow to post,” after a 1945 film about a traveling saleswoman looking for a place to sleep — for about two years when a friend’s daughter told her about NJCDC.

“I don’t think [Tutwiler] knew I was homeless,” she said.

NJCDC requires potential homebuyers to have a $500 deposit and to qualify with a bank for a loan. Preston had the money; like many homeless people she was employed, and her credit met the threshold for the bank’s underwriters.

In August 2006, she became a homeowner. “I had a place to lay my head,” Preston said.

Today she’s retired, but keeps busy volunteering at her church, with the elderly and at NJCDC. She says Tutwiler is a visionary.

“He is rebuilding a better neighborhood,” she said.

Fueled by home buyers like Preston who bring stability to their neighborhoods, which has a ripple effect on other residents, Tutwiler says crime fell by up to 40% on some blocks they developed.

“That was our plan, and we were really excited about making that happen,” he said.

Then the bottom fell out of the real estate market.

New approach inspired by a great recession 

All sectors of the economy were deeply impacted by the Great Recession, but none more than the housing market. Home values plummeted, foreclosures skyrocketed and new mortgages slowed a trickle.

The financial decline caused some reversals in NJCDC’s successes. Much as in the decades after desegregation, more affluent residents started moving away. Crime increased.

During this time, NJCDC concluded that no matter how many homes it built or remodeled, residential development alone wasn’t going to be enough. Tearing down a crack house doesn’t eradicate the drug trade; it just moves it elsewhere. By the same token, it had to deal with existing residents.

“Building alone will not help us change the neighborhood, we have to kind of deal with the residents that are embedded here. We can’t ignore it,” Tutwiler said.

It needed to think bigger and broader.

One of the challenges, he said, was and continues to be figuring out how to bring back an economic base. Houses are great, but if people don’t have jobs they can’t buy them. Similarly, commuting is an option, but people prefer to live, work and play in one neighborhood. None of that happens in isolation.

This was the beginning of what has evolved into a holistic approach to community revitalization. In addition to real estate development, today NJCDC and its partners provides services and opportunities geared toward education, job training, nutrition and reducing violence.

NJCDC received Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds during recession recovery and a sizable grant from the Local Initiatives Support Corp., both of which enabled them to survive and expand their efforts.

In 2011, its first large-scale commercial development, the North Point Town Center — a $4 million, 10,600 square-foot commercial space — opened to much fanfare. Today the building houses NJCDC and numerous other businesses. The second phase is currently under construction.

Where previously they only built and remodeled freestanding homes, now NJCDC built an 80-unit senior living facility and renovated a 50-unit apartment complex.

It also continued building and remodeling homes, 100 it sold and another 50 that are rentals. Driving around its neighborhood you’ll see block after block of well-maintained houses in a rainbow of colors.

It has also greatly diversified their programming. NJCDC and its partners offer classes in financial literacy, health and wellness, job training, networking opportunities, legal referral services and more. NJCDC collects and distributes school supplies and works with neighborhood associations on beautification initiatives.

Some things change

Looking to capitalize on its assets, both historic and present-day, NJCDC helped rename the area the District of Soul. Tutwiler talks about the importance of changing perceptions so that residents and nonresidents associate the neighborhood with more than just crime and blight, such as the fact that Hank Aaron played baseball here, or that there are immensely talented musicians and artists who live here today, as well as some of the best food in the city.

“We think it’s critical that the people who live here both love and respect the grounds they happen to grace every day,” Tutwiler said.

Some endeavors have proved more challenging than others. Nine years ago, NJCDC started trying to bring a grocery store to the lot it owns across the street from the North Point development. The neighborhood is a food desert; next to violent crime, lack of access to fresh foods is one of the residents’ biggest complaints. Today it’s still working on getting that grocery store. Tutwiler concedes it’s been his white whale.

NJCDC has its critics. Some worry that its ultimate goal will cause gentrification that prices residents out of the neighborhood.

Then there’s the fact that, for all NJCDC’s endeavors, poverty and crime, much of it violent, plagues the neighborhood.

On Jan. 7, politicians from across the city assembled here for a press conference. A traffic stop had turned into an officer-involved shooting that left a 17-year-old dead; a gun was found in the car.

“It’s a war out here,” said Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman, who represents the district. “We need an implementation plan that’s now, that’s got some teeth in it.”

There is an ever-present need for greater opportunity, she said. 

These are the same things people have been hearing and saying for years. Tutwiler acknowledges that it will take years to change. Crime and poverty didn’t happen in Northwest Jacksonville overnight; it took decades. Tutwiler looks at the solution to these issues in a similar light. It will take decades to achieve success.

“Nineteen years of learning along the way, we’ve had to come to certain terms,” he said. “The first one is the reality is it’s a work in progress, it’s always evolving.”

As another example of its evolution, in its more recent history, NJCDC has taken on business incubation. Tutwiler says they’ve approached people selling clothes or shoes out of the trunk of a car and later helped them open their own storefront.

“It was important for us to take that on as part of our programming, to take them where they were,” he said.

Gary Ervin says that Tutwiler has already started encouraging the Bridges to the Cure staff, many of whom, if not all, have criminal records, to open businesses in the next phase of NJCDC’s commercial development.

“I’m thinking about opening a restaurant,” said Ervin, who loves to cook.

NJCDC began with the mission of revitalizing the community through residential real estate development. Its goal remains the same; it’s the means that have changed.

“You’re gonna build a house on one street, that’s awesome …” Tutwiler said. “If you’re going to change the entire neighborhood, that’s a different task.”

This is part of Youth Today’s project on targeting gun violence. Support is provided by The Kendeda Fund. Youth Today is solely responsible for the content and maintains editorial independence.

The post Jacksonville Organization Attacks Violence, Blight With Holistic Approach appeared first on Youth Today.


Paul Tutwiler’s Mission of Revitalizing Communities Takes Him Back to His Roots

Paul Tutwiler: Man in sunglasses, blue T-shirt, black pants, brown shoes stands to left of poster on fence that says stop the gun violence Duval4life enough is enough

Courtesy of Northwest Jacksonville CDC

CEO Paul Tutwiler poses at community event in September 2019.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A black and white picture of schoolchildren hangs on the wall of Paul Tutwiler’s office. He’s not related to any of the children who attended a segregated school for black people in the early 20th century, nor does he know their descendants. Yet those young faces strike a chord in him.

Tutwiler, CEO of the Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation (NJCDC), a nonprofit dedicated to community revitalization, points out one boy among the others.

“Look at him, he’s not wearing shoes, standing next to a child that’s fully clothed,” he said, “yet his head is held high.”

Tutwiler, 59, knows something about refusing to be deterred by the circumstances of birth. He was raised in public housing in Memphis, Tenn. “I think it defines me as an individual,” he said of his childhood. “It’s what my true values are.”

Determination to escape poverty led him to the University of Memphis, where he earned a degree in public administration and philosophy while sometimes working two jobs. In 1983, an opportunity with a construction management firm brought him to Jacksonville. The city has been his home ever since.

“If I can evolve and go beyond those standards [being trapped in poverty], I think anyone else can, given the right motivation and belief in themselves,” he said.

[Related: Jacksonville Organization Attacks Violence, Blight With Holistic Approach]

Over the next two decades he got a master’s degree in urban and regional planning and bounced around a bit, working at the local utility, in the school system and at the housing authority. He became one of the founding members of the Durkeeville Historical Society, which preserve and celebrates the history of the black neighborhood founded in the 1930s. 

Success and setbacks

At the turn of the century, Tutwiler landed at the Jacksonville branch of the Local Initiative Support Corp. or LISC, which led him to the fledgling NJCDC in 2002. As it turned out, the meandering path of his life and career made him a perfect fit for this work.

“Life has its oddities,” he said. “I had no idea what my early learning about construction or my studies in urban and regional planning would ultimately do for my preparation for the career I ultimately fell into.”

Tutwiler’s work at NJCDC has made him a recognizable figure in the city that has been his home for nearly four decades. Working to revitalize one of the most disadvantaged and violent communities in Jacksonville has been a journey he describes as full of surprises, success and setbacks.

Outside his office window on a grey but temperate January you can see evidence of economic decline that has continued in this part of the city almost unabated since the 1960s. There are dilapidated and abandoned houses, shuttered businesses and other signs of human suffering. It’s difficult to imagine this historically African American neighborhood was once known as Sugar Hill because, Tutwiler said, “the living was so sweet.”

Yet where others see ruin, he sees potential. He firmly believes that with enough pragmatism, hard work and determination, change is possible.

People who know Tutwiler describe him as something of a chameleon, one moment joking around, the next all business. “You get Paul and you get Mr. Tutwiler,” said Gary Ervin, one of his employees. He’s as comfortable with the formerly incarcerated, several of whom he’s hired over the years, as he is with city leaders. People say he can be tough when he needs to be, but that he’s also fair and deeply humble. And he’s always willing to learn.

Broadening scope

Although his life experience afforded him an intimate understanding of some of the struggles that northwest Jacksonville residents face, Tutwiler admits that he had to overcome some of his own preconceptions.

Thinking back to his early days at NJCDC, Tutwiler recalls that at first his focus was purely on residential development.

“We’re going to build our way out of crime,” he recalls thinking.

Over time, he began to see that no matter how many homes they built and magnets for crime they razed, unless they addressed the root causes of crime, they would merely displace, rather than eradicate it.

To explain his thinking, Tutwiler quotes Newton’s third law, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” That’s another way of describing an if-then hypothesis. For example: If people don’t have a job, then you can’t sell them a $150,000 house. If the median income in the neighborhood is less than $20,000, then businesses won’t relocate there because they won’t be able to survive.

So, with advice and consent from its board, NJCDC broadened its approach. In addition to residential development, it’s also active in commercial development, job training, health and wellness, financial literacy, neighborhood beautification, professional networking and more. Most recently, NJCDC became one of two sites selected for the city’s implementation of the Cure Violence program, which uses a public health approach to diminish violent crime.

NJCDC still develops real estate, but under Tutwiler’s guidance, it’s evolved into a holistic effort to eradicate crime, improve property values and generally create an environment where people thrive.

“Our mission was never to build a single-family house,” he said. “Our mission was to revitalize the community. And the community are both structures and people.”

This is part of Youth Today’s project on targeting gun violence. Support is provided by The Kendeda Fund. Youth Today is solely responsible for the content and maintains editorial independence.

The post Paul Tutwiler’s Mission of Revitalizing Communities Takes Him Back to His Roots appeared first on Youth Today.


Nicola Diamond Appointed Chief Operating Officer at Urban Alliance

Nicola Diamond newsmaker headshot, brunette woman smiling at camera in front of bookshelves

Nicola Diamond

Urban Alliance recently appointed Nicola Diamond as its new chief operating officer. The youth development nonprofit announced her appointment late last month.

Diamond has dedicated her career to the education sector, having spent 30 years in Maryland’s largest school district, Montgomery County Public Schools, in various roles. Most recently she served as its chief financial officer (CFO) for the past three years

Diamond’s own education background includes a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in mathematics education, both from Cornell University. This naturally led her career to the education sector. She taught for some time before moving into administration, where she would ultimately work her way up to the CFO position.

Her exemplary work helping to best serve the needs of Montgomery County’s economically-disadvantaged students then caught the eye of Urban Alliance, which is dedicated to serving these same youth on a national scale.

“As Urban Alliance continues our efforts to expand economic opportunity for underserved youth, Nicola’s expertise in operational leadership will help us to smoothly and efficiently adapt as we grow our work,” said Eshauna Smith, CEO of Urban Alliance in a blog post about the appointment. “Her three decades of experience in education illustrates a passion for youth development and commitment to student success that will make her a valued addition to our national leadership team.”

Nicola Diamond has already begun work in her new role at Urban Alliance, overseeing its finances, human resources and internal operations.

The post Nicola Diamond Appointed Chief Operating Officer at Urban Alliance appeared first on Youth Today.


The Lasting Benefits of Early College High Schools

See Full Report

Author(s): The American Institutes for Research (AIR)

Published: Feb. 18, 2020

Report Intro/Brief:
“The high school years are a pivotal stage for students to prepare to succeed in college and careers. Most jobs today require a postsecondary degree—and most students want to go to college. There are substantial challenges, however, in reaching the goal of college and career readiness for all students, particularly for students from low-income families and students of color. Early College High Schools, also known as Early Colleges, could help policymakers and educators surmount these critical challenges.

In recent years, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) has conducted a rigorous impact evaluation (20132014) and a follow-up study (2019), as well as a cost-benefit analysis (2019) of Early Colleges. This brief summarizes key findings from this work and indicates implications and recommendations for federal and state policymakers.

Originally created as part of the Early College High School Initiative spearheaded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Early Colleges are committed to serving students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. As a type of dual enrollment program, Early Colleges offer all their students the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree or up to two years of college credits toward a bachelor’s degree in high school—at no or low cost to the students. Early Colleges also provide support to students as they plan for their college education, helping them select college courses, transfer to a 4-year college, and identify sources of financial aid.”


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s REPORT LIBRARY

The post The Lasting Benefits of Early College High Schools appeared first on Youth Today.


Trauma for Youth Is Everywhere … But We Can Heal It in Newark

trauma, targeting gun violence project, violence, police, Newark, racial-ethnic fairness

Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

.

On a sunny afternoon in 2006, I was driving my four sons to a cookout in Newark, N.J., my hometown. 

We had stopped at an intersection when a group of teenagers spilled into the street behind us. They were beating another young man, and it wasn’t a game. My sons started yelling, asking what was happening. 

I sped away, screaming at my sons to sit down and keep quiet. My heartbeat was racing and I was sweating. 

Al-Tariq Best

Later, after we had all calmed down, my oldest, Dante, had a question for me. And I’ll never forget his words: “Dad, you always talk about being part of the solution, not part of the problem. What are you doing about it?”

Back then, violence was rampant throughout Newark. I had warned my sons repeatedly about the dangers of the streets. All along, I had been talking about a problem, but not the fix. 

It wasn’t easy taking in Dante’s question. He basically called me a hypocrite, and I couldn’t deny it. I was still trying to make it in the music business at the time, but for what? I needed to give my son a real answer. 

Soon enough, I began building that answer. I started what became FP (Future Potential) YouthOutCry Foundation, Inc., now doing business as The HUBB (Help Us Become Better).  Today The HUBB became a community empowerment center in the middle of the Newark neighborhood I still believe needs it most. I wanted to create a place for Newark’s boys, girls and their families to learn, feel good about themselves and get helped through the arts. 

The HUBB did solid work for 10 years, but we were missing something that I couldn’t put my finger on. Then I went through Trauma to Trust. 

Equal Justice USA, a national nonprofit, developed Trauma to Trust as a program that would bring community members into the same room as their local police. The primary goal is for people to be able to talk about the trauma they have suffered at the hands of police, but the sharing goes both ways. Officers get to share the trauma and stress they have felt on the job. The transparency is supposed to create mutual understanding. 

I had my doubts as I approached the training in 2016. But I tapped into something I didn’t expect. Facing more than a dozen police, I told the story of getting pulled over when I was 17, on my way to a recording studio with a friend. 

Two Newark police officers tore my car apart looking for — I assume — drugs. There was nothing to find, but I was angry. So angry they could see it. One officer reacted.

I felt the barrel of his gun against my head. A tear fell down my face. The officer said, “Let’s see how tough you are.” 

All I could think was, “Is this the end?” 

They were supposed to protect and serve, and I hadn’t done anything wrong. But here I was being treated like a criminal. 

Trauma doesn’t go away

For the next 20-some years, that anger burned in me. It made me aggressive. It stressed me out. It triggered me … to step on that gas pedal, scream at my kids and get as far away from that street fight as I could.  

This is trauma — a type of toxic stress that happens when we experience intense fear, violence or loss. And it doesn’t just disappear. 

Nothing changed until I was in that room with the police and I spoke my truth. I couldn’t believe what happened — one officer looked me in the eye and apologized for what they had done. 

Soon enough, I recognized what was missing from The HUBB. We needed to put a deeper focus on the trauma that nearly every one of those boys and girls brings to our community empowerment center. Because trauma is everywhere in Newark. And it largely goes untreated. In a bold attempt to be the change I wanted to see, we repurposed the community empowerment center into what is now known as The HUBB Arts and Trauma Center. 

There are many things that can inflict trauma on a young person: racism, chronic poverty, the breakdown of families, mass incarceration, drug epidemics. Newark experiences all of it. 

I want to take a hard look at violence, though. Newark has been a violent city for decades, even though it’s followed downward national trends in recent years. Young people, overall, are more likely to experience violence — as a victim, as one who causes harm or just experiencing it through family members or friends. And if you’re black or brown, the experience rate climbs higher, especially around gun violence.  

Today, scientists and experts are looking at violence and trauma like it’s a public health problem. That makes sense in many ways. For example, a study has shown that violence is contagious among youth. If a teenager is hurt badly, they are 183% more likely to act violently themselves. 

Why does this happen? The brain isn’t mature until young people are well into their 20s. So those experiences that cause trauma have a powerful, lasting impact, often leading to extreme, impulsive behaviors, because the brain is so impressionable. And because those brains are developing, they are very receptive to treatment — just like a disease. 

But we have to want to heal them. We have to recognize that these kids — especially black and brown kids — aren’t bad people. So many have lived through racism, poverty, violence and more, and it affects their brains. 

Our track record of helping victims of violence is pretty poor. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 11% of victims of violence receive support from a victim-service agency. That means that millions of people are carrying the weight of trauma on their own. 

All of this drives our work at The HUBB to heal trauma. 

Recovery center opening

An 18-year-old woman I’ll call Kelly, to protect her privacy, came to The HUBB about two years ago to take part in an arts therapy program, which we believe is a judgment-free zone of love. In one part of the program, we address sexual assault, and this was her moment of trauma recognition. She developed a greater understanding of the abuse she had suffered during seven years inside the foster care system. That recognition helped her see that the trauma, and all the ways that it had affected her brain and her behavior, wasn’t her fault. 

From then on, everything changed for Kelly. She sought out the other healing services she needed while diving into our programming. She learned how to be a recording engineer and a mentor to younger people. Today, she’s a key member of our team and succeeding in higher education. 

Still, I knew we could do more. I was able to start my own healing journey decades after the fact. Now, we have the opportunity to do so. 

In March, we will open the door to The HUBB HELP (Healing and Empowering Life Purpose) Trauma Recovery Center. This will be the first youth trauma recovery center on the East Coast. I learned about the model when I went to California to meet with the Alliance for Safety and Justice, and I decided I had to bring it back to Newark. 

You heal trauma by making young people feel safe and by reassuring them that it’s not their fault, that they’re not alone and that the hurt they feel can heal. The HUBB HELP TRC will offer counseling from accredited counselors and therapists; peer support groups; referrals to community supports, including health referrals; assistance with applications for federal victim compensation, and much more. 

Healing for these kids and their families is part of a bigger issue too. You don’t need to think too hard about what that cycle of trauma and violence is going to produce: incarceration. So making sure these young people can heal from the trauma they carry and the violence they’ve experienced is going to lead to fewer of them going to prison. In other words, healing is an essential part of justice. 

I want this to be the first of many trauma recovery centers … in Newark, in New Jersey, across the nation. That’s how big this problem is. But we can heal trauma, because it’s just like a disease. And when we do we’re going to reduce violence. All we have to do is want it. 

Born and raised in the city of Newark, Al-Tariq Best would discover his “calling” to become a voice and change agent for today’s youth and their families through his work as a community leader, activist, motivational speaker and mentor. As a “Broken Crayon That Still Colors” Mr. Best, through his own healing process, began to assist others to heal as well. 

The post Trauma for Youth Is Everywhere … But We Can Heal It in Newark appeared first on Youth Today.


Trauma for Youth Is Everywhere … But We Can Heal It in Newark

trauma, targeting gun violence project, violence, police, Newark, racial-ethnic fairness

Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

.

On a sunny afternoon in 2006, I was driving my four sons to a cookout in Newark, N.J., my hometown. 

We had stopped at an intersection when a group of teenagers spilled into the street behind us. They were beating another young man, and it wasn’t a game. My sons started yelling, asking what was happening. 

I sped away, screaming at my sons to sit down and keep quiet. My heartbeat was racing and I was sweating. 

Al-Tariq Best

Later, after we had all calmed down, my oldest, Dante, had a question for me. And I’ll never forget his words: “Dad, you always talk about being part of the solution, not part of the problem. What are you doing about it?”

Back then, violence was rampant throughout Newark. I had warned my sons repeatedly about the dangers of the streets. All along, I had been talking about a problem, but not the fix. 

It wasn’t easy taking in Dante’s question. He basically called me a hypocrite, and I couldn’t deny it. I was still trying to make it in the music business at the time, but for what? I needed to give my son a real answer. 

Soon enough, I began building that answer. I started what became FP (Future Potential) YouthOutCry Foundation, Inc., now doing business as The HUBB (Help Us Become Better).  Today The HUBB became a community empowerment center in the middle of the Newark neighborhood I still believe needs it most. I wanted to create a place for Newark’s boys, girls and their families to learn, feel good about themselves and get helped through the arts. 

The HUBB did solid work for 10 years, but we were missing something that I couldn’t put my finger on. Then I went through Trauma to Trust. 

Equal Justice USA, a national nonprofit, developed Trauma to Trust as a program that would bring community members into the same room as their local police. The primary goal is for people to be able to talk about the trauma they have suffered at the hands of police, but the sharing goes both ways. Officers get to share the trauma and stress they have felt on the job. The transparency is supposed to create mutual understanding. 

I had my doubts as I approached the training in 2016. But I tapped into something I didn’t expect. Facing more than a dozen police, I told the story of getting pulled over when I was 17, on my way to a recording studio with a friend. 

Two Newark police officers tore my car apart looking for — I assume — drugs. There was nothing to find, but I was angry. So angry they could see it. One officer reacted.

I felt the barrel of his gun against my head. A tear fell down my face. The officer said, “Let’s see how tough you are.” 

All I could think was, “Is this the end?” 

They were supposed to protect and serve, and I hadn’t done anything wrong. But here I was being treated like a criminal. 

Trauma doesn’t go away

For the next 20-some years, that anger burned in me. It made me aggressive. It stressed me out. It triggered me … to step on that gas pedal, scream at my kids and get as far away from that street fight as I could.  

This is trauma — a type of toxic stress that happens when we experience intense fear, violence or loss. And it doesn’t just disappear. 

Nothing changed until I was in that room with the police and I spoke my truth. I couldn’t believe what happened — one officer looked me in the eye and apologized for what they had done. 

Soon enough, I recognized what was missing from The HUBB. We needed to put a deeper focus on the trauma that nearly every one of those boys and girls brings to our community empowerment center. Because trauma is everywhere in Newark. And it largely goes untreated. In a bold attempt to be the change I wanted to see, we repurposed the community empowerment center into what is now known as The HUBB Arts and Trauma Center. 

There are many things that can inflict trauma on a young person: racism, chronic poverty, the breakdown of families, mass incarceration, drug epidemics. Newark experiences all of it. 

I want to take a hard look at violence, though. Newark has been a violent city for decades, even though it’s followed downward national trends in recent years. Young people, overall, are more likely to experience violence — as a victim, as one who causes harm or just experiencing it through family members or friends. And if you’re black or brown, the experience rate climbs higher, especially around gun violence.  

Today, scientists and experts are looking at violence and trauma like it’s a public health problem. That makes sense in many ways. For example, a study has shown that violence is contagious among youth. If a teenager is hurt badly, they are 183% more likely to act violently themselves. 

Why does this happen? The brain isn’t mature until young people are well into their 20s. So those experiences that cause trauma have a powerful, lasting impact, often leading to extreme, impulsive behaviors, because the brain is so impressionable. And because those brains are developing, they are very receptive to treatment — just like a disease. 

But we have to want to heal them. We have to recognize that these kids — especially black and brown kids — aren’t bad people. So many have lived through racism, poverty, violence and more, and it affects their brains. 

Our track record of helping victims of violence is pretty poor. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 11% of victims of violence receive support from a victim-service agency. That means that millions of people are carrying the weight of trauma on their own. 

All of this drives our work at The HUBB to heal trauma. 

Recovery center opening

An 18-year-old woman I’ll call Kelly, to protect her privacy, came to The HUBB about two years ago to take part in an arts therapy program, which we believe is a judgment-free zone of love. In one part of the program, we address sexual assault, and this was her moment of trauma recognition. She developed a greater understanding of the abuse she had suffered during seven years inside the foster care system. That recognition helped her see that the trauma, and all the ways that it had affected her brain and her behavior, wasn’t her fault. 

From then on, everything changed for Kelly. She sought out the other healing services she needed while diving into our programming. She learned how to be a recording engineer and a mentor to younger people. Today, she’s a key member of our team and succeeding in higher education. 

Still, I knew we could do more. I was able to start my own healing journey decades after the fact. Now, we have the opportunity to do so. 

In March, we will open the door to The HUBB HELP (Healing and Empowering Life Purpose) Trauma Recovery Center. This will be the first youth trauma recovery center on the East Coast. I learned about the model when I went to California to meet with the Alliance for Safety and Justice, and I decided I had to bring it back to Newark. 

You heal trauma by making young people feel safe and by reassuring them that it’s not their fault, that they’re not alone and that the hurt they feel can heal. The HUBB HELP TRC will offer counseling from accredited counselors and therapists; peer support groups; referrals to community supports, including health referrals; assistance with applications for federal victim compensation, and much more. 

Healing for these kids and their families is part of a bigger issue too. You don’t need to think too hard about what that cycle of trauma and violence is going to produce: incarceration. So making sure these young people can heal from the trauma they carry and the violence they’ve experienced is going to lead to fewer of them going to prison. In other words, healing is an essential part of justice. 

I want this to be the first of many trauma recovery centers … in Newark, in New Jersey, across the nation. That’s how big this problem is. But we can heal trauma, because it’s just like a disease. And when we do we’re going to reduce violence. All we have to do is want it. 

Born and raised in the city of Newark, Al-Tariq Best would discover his “calling” to become a voice and change agent for today’s youth and their families through his work as a community leader, activist, motivational speaker and mentor. As a “Broken Crayon That Still Colors” Mr. Best, through his own healing process, began to assist others to heal as well. 

The post Trauma for Youth Is Everywhere … But We Can Heal It in Newark appeared first on Youth Today.


Atlanta Organization Emphasizes Cultural, Historical Knowledge For Black Adolescent Boys

black boys: 6 boys in T-shirts and jeans with smiling man in middle wearing polo shirt and shorts in front of memorial.

Photos by Baton Foundation

The Baton Foundation took its class on a field trip to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala. Founder Anthony Knight is in the center.

A small nonprofit in Atlanta fills what its founder considers a critical gap for black adolescent boys — a chance to explore their history and culture.

Not only does the organization engage boys, but it also draws their parents and other adults to events exploring black history and culture.

Twice a month on a Saturday morning a small group of boys ages 10 to 17 meets with Anthony Knight, founder, president and CEO of the Baton Foundation. On a given Saturday they might discuss how to manage money, handle an encounter with the police or what a slice of history might have felt like to people who lived through it. 

“We spend four seminars going over different ways to understand who we are as human beings,” Knight said. The first four classes cover emotional and self-awareness.

black boys: Man wearing button-down shirt with folded arms in front of bookcase

Anthony Knight, founder, president and CEO of the Baton Foundation

Other classes explore cultural heritage and black history. Boys might discuss the writings of poet Gwendolyn Brooks or memoirist Olaudah Equiano, whose account, which includes his enslavement as a child, was instrumental in the British abolition of slavery in 1807. Another series of classes addresses self-mastery and how to deal with challenging life situations, including the example of being pulled over by the police.

In addition, the Baton Foundation holds community events for the public two to three times a month, often at Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue Research Library. In November, the organization screened the film “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.” In December, author Jelani Favors discussed his book about historically black colleges and the role they’ve played.

Working with young people is not complete unless the adults in their lives are also engaged, Knight believes. Otherwise, kids go home and are not supported in their new knowledge, he said.

He recently organized a discussion of the opera “Porgy and Bess” along with the performance of two selections from the show. The original play was written by a white couple in Charleston, S.C., he noted. That fact always sparks discussion about creating art outside of one’s own experience, Knight said.

Why cultural identity is important

Taken together, the Baton Foundation’s offerings are a deep dive into the cultural currents of being black in America.

Its work with youth is based on the idea that a strong cultural identity strengthens young people. Youth development research also supports this idea.

“Culture is the fundamental building block of identity, and the development of a strong cultural identity is essential to children’s healthy sense of who they are and where they belong,” according to the Early Learning Years Framework for Australia.

Youth with a strong ethnic identity have more coping strategies, according to psychologists Susan D. McMahon and Roderick J. Watts. Young people who are racially in a minority have a more complex task of sorting out their cultural identity, but a coherent sense of identity is linked to feeling more positive about oneself and less likelihood of risky behavior, other research has noted.

Knight, whose parents were from Florida, grew up in New York City. 

He earned a master’s degree from George Washington University and has spent 20 years in museum consulting, education and management.

At one point early on in his education, he realized: “I really did not know much about black history and culture.” That lack of knowledge is common, he said. 

He decided he could use his museum work to educate people.

The Trayvon Martin connection

Then high school student Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. It happened in 2012 in Sanford, Fla., the town Knight’s parents and grandparents were from. The shooter, George Zimmerman, was found not guilty.

“I kept hearing black people casually and in conversation being shocked by the acquittal,” Knight said.

“It was a wake-up call to me: People can still kill unarmed people in this country,” he said. “I had to do something.”

Not long afterwards he had a conversation with former civil rights activist Lonnie King, who led protests against segregation in Atlanta in the 1960s.

King told him the effort to educate a new generation is like a relay race: “‘We’ve got to [say] to our children that the fight for human rights and civil rights is not over,’” Knight recalled.

The conversation had a profound effect on Knight. It became important to him to take part in that relay race and pass the baton to the next generation — hence the name Baton Foundation.

Knight founded his nonprofit in 2015, supported by small, individual contributions, he said. For four years, he’s held the Saturday classes, which run all year. He can serve only 15 boys.

Knight works a full-time job with the city of Atlanta, running a program that arranges for Atlanta Public Schools students to attend cultural events at city venues, from the ballet to The King Center to the Georgia Aquarium.

The small number of students the Baton Foundation works with doesn’t faze him. He values small group interaction, he said.

The foundation’s goal is to strengthen black boys emotionally, culturally and intellectually. It affirms black people in a society that marginalizes them, according to the foundation.

Knight said he’s heard many a conversation indicating ways that black people don’t value themselves in a society that doesn’t value them. The Baton Foundation, however, challenges the negative things children learn about race in the larger society, Knight said.

It’s important to “teach our children the truth — the good, the bad, and the ugly,“ he said.

The post Atlanta Organization Emphasizes Cultural, Historical Knowledge For Black Adolescent Boys appeared first on Youth Today.


Atlanta Organization Emphasizes Cultural, Historical Knowledge For Black Adolescent Boys

black boys: 6 boys in T-shirts and jeans with smiling man in middle wearing polo shirt and shorts in front of memorial.

Photos by Baton Foundation

The Baton Foundation took its class on a field trip to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala. Founder Anthony Knight is in the center.

A small nonprofit in Atlanta fills what its founder considers a critical gap for black adolescent boys — a chance to explore their history and culture.

Not only does the organization engage boys, but it also draws their parents and other adults to events exploring black history and culture.

Twice a month on a Saturday morning a small group of boys ages 10 to 17 meets with Anthony Knight, founder, president and CEO of the Baton Foundation. On a given Saturday they might discuss how to manage money, handle an encounter with the police or what a slice of history might have felt like to people who lived through it. 

“We spend four seminars going over different ways to understand who we are as human beings,” Knight said. The first four classes cover emotional and self-awareness.

black boys: Man wearing button-down shirt with folded arms in front of bookcase

Anthony Knight, founder, president and CEO of the Baton Foundation

Other classes explore cultural heritage and black history. Boys might discuss the writings of poet Gwendolyn Brooks or memoirist Olaudah Equiano, whose account, which includes his enslavement as a child, was instrumental in the British abolition of slavery in 1807. Another series of classes addresses self-mastery and how to deal with challenging life situations, including the example of being pulled over by the police.

In addition, the Baton Foundation holds community events for the public two to three times a month, often at Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue Research Library. In November, the organization screened the film “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.” In December, author Jelani Favors discussed his book about historically black colleges and the role they’ve played.

Working with young people is not complete unless the adults in their lives are also engaged, Knight believes. Otherwise, kids go home and are not supported in their new knowledge, he said.

He recently organized a discussion of the opera “Porgy and Bess” along with the performance of two selections from the show. The original play was written by a white couple in Charleston, S.C., he noted. That fact always sparks discussion about creating art outside of one’s own experience, Knight said.

Why cultural identity is important

Taken together, the Baton Foundation’s offerings are a deep dive into the cultural currents of being black in America.

Its work with youth is based on the idea that a strong cultural identity strengthens young people. Youth development research also supports this idea.

“Culture is the fundamental building block of identity, and the development of a strong cultural identity is essential to children’s healthy sense of who they are and where they belong,” according to the Early Learning Years Framework for Australia.

Youth with a strong ethnic identity have more coping strategies, according to psychologists Susan D. McMahon and Roderick J. Watts. Young people who are racially in a minority have a more complex task of sorting out their cultural identity, but a coherent sense of identity is linked to feeling more positive about oneself and less likelihood of risky behavior, other research has noted.

Knight, whose parents were from Florida, grew up in New York City. 

He earned a master’s degree from George Washington University and has spent 20 years in museum consulting, education and management.

At one point early on in his education, he realized: “I really did not know much about black history and culture.” That lack of knowledge is common, he said. 

He decided he could use his museum work to educate people.

The Trayvon Martin connection

Then high school student Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. It happened in 2012 in Sanford, Fla., the town Knight’s parents and grandparents were from. The shooter, George Zimmerman, was found not guilty.

“I kept hearing black people casually and in conversation being shocked by the acquittal,” Knight said.

“It was a wake-up call to me: People can still kill unarmed people in this country,” he said. “I had to do something.”

Not long afterwards he had a conversation with former civil rights activist Lonnie King, who led protests against segregation in Atlanta in the 1960s.

King told him the effort to educate a new generation is like a relay race: “‘We’ve got to [say] to our children that the fight for human rights and civil rights is not over,’” Knight recalled.

The conversation had a profound effect on Knight. It became important to him to take part in that relay race and pass the baton to the next generation — hence the name Baton Foundation.

Knight founded his nonprofit in 2015, supported by small, individual contributions, he said. For four years, he’s held the Saturday classes, which run all year. He can serve only 15 boys.

Knight works a full-time job with the city of Atlanta, running a program that arranges for Atlanta Public Schools students to attend cultural events at city venues, from the ballet to The King Center to the Georgia Aquarium.

The small number of students the Baton Foundation works with doesn’t faze him. He values small group interaction, he said.

The foundation’s goal is to strengthen black boys emotionally, culturally and intellectually. It affirms black people in a society that marginalizes them, according to the foundation.

Knight said he’s heard many a conversation indicating ways that black people don’t value themselves in a society that doesn’t value them. The Baton Foundation, however, challenges the negative things children learn about race in the larger society, Knight said.

It’s important to “teach our children the truth — the good, the bad, and the ugly,“ he said.

The post Atlanta Organization Emphasizes Cultural, Historical Knowledge For Black Adolescent Boys appeared first on Youth Today.


Women firefighters face high exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals

San Francisco’s women firefighters are exposed to higher levels of certain toxic PFAS chemicals than women working in downtown San Francisco offices, shows a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, San Francisco, and Silent Spring Institute.

The First Female Muslim American to Win an Olympic Medal Is Passing Along the Mentoring to ‘Our Youth’

Woman on stage in hijab talks to young woman on stage in beige suit.

Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad (left) is interviewed by Mia Prince, a Boston high school student, during the National Mentoring Summit. | Stan Murzyn

WASHINGTON — Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad would not be where she is today were it not for her mentor, also an Olympic medalist in fencing.

As a teen, Muhammad was often the only African American — and the only one in hijab — at fencing competitions in and around her hometown of Maplewood, N.J. She was “othered” in the predominantly white sport, she said in a recent interview — a form of discrimination that continued as she advanced through the ranks.

When her national team lost a major match, her coach was especially critical of her performance during video review sessions, Muhammad said. She was also left off important emails, not informed of details about practices and made to feel like an outcast on Team USA. “They did not want me there, and they made it very clear they didn’t want me there.”

Like endless jabs, the microaggressions were intended to drive her from the sport. 

Fortunately, her mentor — Peter Westbrook, a bronze medalist in the 1984 games and head of a nonprofit fencing organization for youth from underserved communities — encouraged her to deflect them. The first African American to medal in the sport, Westbrook used the lessons he learned during his Olympic journey years ago to prod Muhammad to continue hers.

He was a “guiding force that has helped me see what’s possible,” Muhammad said — a story she told last month at a national mentoring conference here.

Westbrook provided the kind of ongoing holistic support that is the hallmark of strong mentoring, helping her physically, emotionally and spiritually, Muhammad said. He gave her tactical fencing lessons, counseled her using a faith-based approach and helped her envision herself as a professional athlete. He also helped fund her Olympic dreams through his foundation.

She learned to cast aside the “white noise” of mistreatment and to believe in herself. 

“I feel like you have to love yourself, have to appreciate yourself, you have to know you’re capable,” she said. “That’s such an important message for kids today. We often look for validation from other people. I think the validation you need has to come from within first.”

Westbrook wasn’t Muhammad’s only mentor. She also credits Keeth Smart, who won a silver medal in the team saber competition in the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing. Also African American, Smart counseled Muhammad on everything from footwork to diet to cross-training. 

She sought to “recreate his blueprint” for victory, she said, and the plan worked. In 2016, Muhammad became the first U.S. woman to compete in the Olympic games in hijab and the first female Muslim American to win an Olympic medal. In 2017, Mattel unveiled its first hijabi Barbie, which was modeled after Muhammad’s likeness. 

And in 2018 Muhammad — who has also launched her own line of modest clothing — released a memoir about her fight for “an unlikely American dream.”

As an activist, entrepreneur, author and speaker, Muhammad is now paying it forward. 

As an instructor at the Westbrook Foundation, she has helped dozens of underserved kids master the sport of fencing. And she’s working closely with Isis Washington, a fencer and volunteer coach at the Westbrook Foundation who Muhammad says is “on track” to qualify for the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo this summer.

“When we have the opportunity to give our youth kind of a lens into what’s possible for them, it can make a huge difference,” she said. 

“I don’t know where I would be in sport without having these really strong mentors in my life.”

The post The First Female Muslim American to Win an Olympic Medal Is Passing Along the Mentoring to ‘Our Youth’ appeared first on Youth Today.


Only Death Ends the Rescue Fantasy for Clinician — At First

recidivism: aggressive young man and therapist

Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

From training to practicing to now teaching, one of the key factors in psychotherapy that continually surfaces is countertransference (sorry self-care), which we know as the phenomenon of the clinician reaction to the client. I prefer to think of countertransference as our “entanglement” with the client — it is never neat and organized. And I think a lot of managing entanglement starts with recognizing that fundamentally, clinicians are entangled with themselves and the stories we create for ourselves. So this is a story about the story about my entanglements.

I began working as a behavioral health clinician in a juvenile detention center mainly by chance, so the experience was going to be completely new to me. I had no prior training with this population, and while I did have experience in a residential setting, the idea of going to do behavioral therapy in a secure detention center was an unknown for me.

Sean E. Snyder

So my clinician story started with projection and preconception. The overt preconceptions are easy to see going into the detention setting — these youth are here for allegations of violent offenses, property crimes, drug-related crimes. My introduction to providing care in this setting was reassurances from the organization in charge: that the detention staff will be outside the door in case something happens, or if a youth is on what is known as “one-to-one” supervision, staff could come into the room during the session. 

I saw my first youth for needs assessment and the encounter remains unforgettable. Here is this adolescent in blue scrubs, no identifiable features, and I knew nothing. Admittedly, it felt like I was getting through sessions as quickly as possible because I didn’t really know what to do. There was that first-session anxiety — the functional kind in new scenarios — but I remember trying to resist the preconceptions and projections. 

Cue overcompensation. To resolve my “quickness,” my story came to involve seeing as many youth as possible to extend my reach, to build a sense of competence with me, to try to provide the most access for what seemed to be a scarce resource. But I resisted getting entangled with the depth of their stories, and looking back, it seems largely protective of my story.

Reality always wins. As months became a year and beyond, I struggled with the youth readmissions and recidivism, questioning myself: “Why were they coming back so frequently? What role did I have to play in this?” Clinicians tend to overstate their importance and downplay their role in undesirable outcomes (anecdotally and empirically speaking …), and so I figured this must just be a total product of the flawed system. The system wasn’t trauma-informed, not responsive to the needs of adolescents in a large urban area. So the rescue fantasy, the fantasy where a “helper” will save vulnerable people from their plight, came in full force.

Nothing works with everyone

After establishing my workflow and processes, I was fortunate to be trained in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, the key (in my mind) that would unlock the system and produce such good outcomes. At the time, this training felt like the panacea that I had been looking for. With all of the trauma exposure these youth experience, clearly the answer to their challenges was trauma-focused treatment. I had my daily musings: “If I could just get youth to do this treatment, then the likelihood of their return should decrease.” 

I did have some treatment success, even with small doses of the intervention, but I generalized the model to practically every youth that I saw. To take a step back, there is no doubt that youth can benefit from skill-building interventions and some exposure to their stressors, but with my practice, I went a little overboard. I was defining my story further by negotiating how I would get entangled with my clients — I’d go by what the evidence says. And I was not ready for the impact of the entanglement of trauma work.

By putting myself out there with trauma treatment, I wasn’t ready for the effects of it. The fatigue was something I rationalized. Month by month, I began developing burnout symptoms and eventually I had secondary traumatic stress symptoms. I superficially sensed that I needed to go to therapy but I was so reluctant because it didn’t fit my story. I had chosen to do this work and it was just the byproduct of my decision. And I told myself, “I will press on and get through it.” ( I did eventually go for my own therapy.).

The story kept going because I had been doing the treatment and there were enough results, albeit mixed results. Some youth were getting “better” with their symptoms, some got worse, some I never saw again. Then there were some who appeared so much more functionally present but still reported high levels of symptoms. Here was the new challenge I had to overcome — “incongruence.” 

I began to get crazy about measurement-based care, thinking “if I just measured everything correctly, then I would be able to get the results I was hoping for.” Stop me if you have heard this — treatment becoming more about the clinician’s insecurity than the patient’s needs. (For reference, our team systematically used the PHQ-9, GAD-7, the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire, the Peabody Treatment Progress Battery, the Childhood PTSD Symptom Scale-5 and the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale.)

I did my new and improved measurements, and some of these activities helped. I incorporated the CGI scale to give myself some slack about functional improvement but lack of symptom reduction. As an aside, this part of my story is not to trash measurement-based care; it is a really effective practice for client treatment outcomes. But it was another way for me to keep the reins on my story, to manage the entanglement. 

In my craze of figuring out measurement, I got connected to a brilliant doctor/researcher on the West Coast who was doing amazing work with pain management in children. She gave me what I was looking for with notes about measures, problem hierarchies; but she gave me something so much more at the end of that email: “Have you ever heard of healing-centered engagement?”

That question challenged the story, and I can see that she engaged my head to get at the heart of what the work is all about. The youth aren’t their traumas, they are more than just what happened to them and their collection of experiences.

Shut up and listen

Thomas Merton, a social activist of the 1960s and American Trappist monk, mentioned in his “Letter to a Young Activist” that the work becomes less about the problem and more about the people. More eloquently put:

“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.”

Sometimes, to get the message, you really have to shut up and start listening more as a clinician. For years, I told everyone who asks about my work that the best part of the job is the people, the youth I am honored to see. I get the chance to grow alongside them, to have moments of grace, shared joys and shared disappointments. I’ve seen some youth grow up in the system, and while that is disheartening, they are still people under our care. So the story now becomes less about symptom reduction, measurements, congruence and my story, and it becomes more about what all this means for them, how their identity and self-concept are affected, how they are striving toward the self that they envision for themselves.

Then there are those wake-up call moments that really put things into perspective. I have learned of the deaths of many youths I had clinical contact with, with cause of death ranging from intentional or unintentional shootings to suicide to unintentional overdose. My initial reaction to the first client death was another fantasy: “How did I not delay death for this youth.” 

It is a complete shock to hear a client has died, as it really is the most existential entanglement possible. And it’s moments like these that really make me think back to why I do this work in the first place — to improve the quality of life of people and their communities. It’s going back to that mission, the mission of healing, of resilience, of striving towards the possible, that helps to keep me moving forward. It’s about their stories and my stories together at this instance of time. Social work is not about delaying death but enhancing life. It’s authoring the story for what it is, what it could be, the mess, entanglements and everything in between. 

Sean Snyder, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical worker practicing and teaching in Philadelphia. He enjoys Phillies baseball.

The post Only Death Ends the Rescue Fantasy for Clinician — At First appeared first on Youth Today.


Only Death Ends the Rescue Fantasy for Clinician — At First

recidivism: aggressive young man and therapist

Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

From training to practicing to now teaching, one of the key factors in psychotherapy that continually surfaces is countertransference (sorry self-care), which we know as the phenomenon of the clinician reaction to the client. I prefer to think of countertransference as our “entanglement” with the client — it is never neat and organized. And I think a lot of managing entanglement starts with recognizing that fundamentally, clinicians are entangled with themselves and the stories we create for ourselves. So this is a story about the story about my entanglements.

I began working as a behavioral health clinician in a juvenile detention center mainly by chance, so the experience was going to be completely new to me. I had no prior training with this population, and while I did have experience in a residential setting, the idea of going to do behavioral therapy in a secure detention center was an unknown for me.

Sean E. Snyder

So my clinician story started with projection and preconception. The overt preconceptions are easy to see going into the detention setting — these youth are here for allegations of violent offenses, property crimes, drug-related crimes. My introduction to providing care in this setting was reassurances from the organization in charge: that the detention staff will be outside the door in case something happens, or if a youth is on what is known as “one-to-one” supervision, staff could come into the room during the session. 

I saw my first youth for needs assessment and the encounter remains unforgettable. Here is this adolescent in blue scrubs, no identifiable features, and I knew nothing. Admittedly, it felt like I was getting through sessions as quickly as possible because I didn’t really know what to do. There was that first-session anxiety — the functional kind in new scenarios — but I remember trying to resist the preconceptions and projections. 

Cue overcompensation. To resolve my “quickness,” my story came to involve seeing as many youth as possible to extend my reach, to build a sense of competence with me, to try to provide the most access for what seemed to be a scarce resource. But I resisted getting entangled with the depth of their stories, and looking back, it seems largely protective of my story.

Reality always wins. As months became a year and beyond, I struggled with the youth readmissions and recidivism, questioning myself: “Why were they coming back so frequently? What role did I have to play in this?” Clinicians tend to overstate their importance and downplay their role in undesirable outcomes (anecdotally and empirically speaking …), and so I figured this must just be a total product of the flawed system. The system wasn’t trauma-informed, not responsive to the needs of adolescents in a large urban area. So the rescue fantasy, the fantasy where a “helper” will save vulnerable people from their plight, came in full force.

Nothing works with everyone

After establishing my workflow and processes, I was fortunate to be trained in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, the key (in my mind) that would unlock the system and produce such good outcomes. At the time, this training felt like the panacea that I had been looking for. With all of the trauma exposure these youth experience, clearly the answer to their challenges was trauma-focused treatment. I had my daily musings: “If I could just get youth to do this treatment, then the likelihood of their return should decrease.” 

I did have some treatment success, even with small doses of the intervention, but I generalized the model to practically every youth that I saw. To take a step back, there is no doubt that youth can benefit from skill-building interventions and some exposure to their stressors, but with my practice, I went a little overboard. I was defining my story further by negotiating how I would get entangled with my clients — I’d go by what the evidence says. And I was not ready for the impact of the entanglement of trauma work.

By putting myself out there with trauma treatment, I wasn’t ready for the effects of it. The fatigue was something I rationalized. Month by month, I began developing burnout symptoms and eventually I had secondary traumatic stress symptoms. I superficially sensed that I needed to go to therapy but I was so reluctant because it didn’t fit my story. I had chosen to do this work and it was just the byproduct of my decision. And I told myself, “I will press on and get through it.” ( I did eventually go for my own therapy.).

The story kept going because I had been doing the treatment and there were enough results, albeit mixed results. Some youth were getting “better” with their symptoms, some got worse, some I never saw again. Then there were some who appeared so much more functionally present but still reported high levels of symptoms. Here was the new challenge I had to overcome — “incongruence.” 

I began to get crazy about measurement-based care, thinking “if I just measured everything correctly, then I would be able to get the results I was hoping for.” Stop me if you have heard this — treatment becoming more about the clinician’s insecurity than the patient’s needs. (For reference, our team systematically used the PHQ-9, GAD-7, the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire, the Peabody Treatment Progress Battery, the Childhood PTSD Symptom Scale-5 and the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale.)

I did my new and improved measurements, and some of these activities helped. I incorporated the CGI scale to give myself some slack about functional improvement but lack of symptom reduction. As an aside, this part of my story is not to trash measurement-based care; it is a really effective practice for client treatment outcomes. But it was another way for me to keep the reins on my story, to manage the entanglement. 

In my craze of figuring out measurement, I got connected to a brilliant doctor/researcher on the West Coast who was doing amazing work with pain management in children. She gave me what I was looking for with notes about measures, problem hierarchies; but she gave me something so much more at the end of that email: “Have you ever heard of healing-centered engagement?”

That question challenged the story, and I can see that she engaged my head to get at the heart of what the work is all about. The youth aren’t their traumas, they are more than just what happened to them and their collection of experiences.

Shut up and listen

Thomas Merton, a social activist of the 1960s and American Trappist monk, mentioned in his “Letter to a Young Activist” that the work becomes less about the problem and more about the people. More eloquently put:

“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.”

Sometimes, to get the message, you really have to shut up and start listening more as a clinician. For years, I told everyone who asks about my work that the best part of the job is the people, the youth I am honored to see. I get the chance to grow alongside them, to have moments of grace, shared joys and shared disappointments. I’ve seen some youth grow up in the system, and while that is disheartening, they are still people under our care. So the story now becomes less about symptom reduction, measurements, congruence and my story, and it becomes more about what all this means for them, how their identity and self-concept are affected, how they are striving toward the self that they envision for themselves.

Then there are those wake-up call moments that really put things into perspective. I have learned of the deaths of many youths I had clinical contact with, with cause of death ranging from intentional or unintentional shootings to suicide to unintentional overdose. My initial reaction to the first client death was another fantasy: “How did I not delay death for this youth.” 

It is a complete shock to hear a client has died, as it really is the most existential entanglement possible. And it’s moments like these that really make me think back to why I do this work in the first place — to improve the quality of life of people and their communities. It’s going back to that mission, the mission of healing, of resilience, of striving towards the possible, that helps to keep me moving forward. It’s about their stories and my stories together at this instance of time. Social work is not about delaying death but enhancing life. It’s authoring the story for what it is, what it could be, the mess, entanglements and everything in between. 

Sean Snyder, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical worker practicing and teaching in Philadelphia. He enjoys Phillies baseball.

The post Only Death Ends the Rescue Fantasy for Clinician — At First appeared first on Youth Today.


Youth Grief and Bereavement Services Program Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Child/Youth Welfare, Child/Youth Mental Health, Grief/Bereavement, Therapy, Counseling, Mentoring
Deadline:
Mar. 9, 2020 | July 17, 2020

“The New York Life Foundation in partnership with the National Alliance for Grieving Children is excited to soon announce the opening of the RFP cycle for Grief Reach, a grant program that will expand capacity and increase access of bereavement services for grieving youth with local organizations. The Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of educational enhancement and childhood bereavement. Childhood bereavement is one of society’s most pervasive issues: one in fourteen Americans will lose a parent or sibling before age 18 and the vast majority of children experience a significant loss by the time they complete high school. Yet bereaved children remain largely unseen and under-served within their communities and schools, with few outlets to express their grief.

The New York Life Foundation has committed $1.25 million up to thirty-seven grants to be given to organizations serving grieving children across the country. There are two different grant opportunities:

  • Cycle 1: Community Expansion Grants: These grant funds may be used to expand services to bereaved children and youth.
  • Cycle 2: Capacity Building Grants: Funds to enhance organizational capacity, development and effectiveness.”

Funder: The New York Life Foundation and the National Alliance for Grieving Children
Eligibility:
“Organizations applying for these competitive grants must be 501(c)(3) organizations. This competitive grant program is limited to those organizations that serve bereaved children and youth. Applicants for this grant program must serve at least 50 percent—of low-income youth and/or minority children. Special consideration will be given to projects that are focused on     providing resources for families affected by the opioid crisis with their grant proposal.”
Amount:
Cycle 1: $50,000 or $100,000 | Cycle 2: $10,000 or $20,000
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

The post Youth Grief and Bereavement Services Program Grants appeared first on Youth Today.


Youth Grief and Bereavement Services Program Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Child/Youth Welfare, Child/Youth Mental Health, Grief/Bereavement, Therapy, Counseling, Mentoring
Deadline:
Mar. 9, 2020 | July 17, 2020

“The New York Life Foundation in partnership with the National Alliance for Grieving Children is excited to soon announce the opening of the RFP cycle for Grief Reach, a grant program that will expand capacity and increase access of bereavement services for grieving youth with local organizations. The Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of educational enhancement and childhood bereavement. Childhood bereavement is one of society’s most pervasive issues: one in fourteen Americans will lose a parent or sibling before age 18 and the vast majority of children experience a significant loss by the time they complete high school. Yet bereaved children remain largely unseen and under-served within their communities and schools, with few outlets to express their grief.

The New York Life Foundation has committed $1.25 million up to thirty-seven grants to be given to organizations serving grieving children across the country. There are two different grant opportunities:

  • Cycle 1: Community Expansion Grants: These grant funds may be used to expand services to bereaved children and youth.
  • Cycle 2: Capacity Building Grants: Funds to enhance organizational capacity, development and effectiveness.”

Funder: The New York Life Foundation and the National Alliance for Grieving Children
Eligibility:
“Organizations applying for these competitive grants must be 501(c)(3) organizations. This competitive grant program is limited to those organizations that serve bereaved children and youth. Applicants for this grant program must serve at least 50 percent—of low-income youth and/or minority children. Special consideration will be given to projects that are focused on     providing resources for families affected by the opioid crisis with their grant proposal.”
Amount:
Cycle 1: $50,000 or $100,000 | Cycle 2: $10,000 or $20,000
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

The post Youth Grief and Bereavement Services Program Grants appeared first on Youth Today.


Community Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Program Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Youth Welfare, Drugs, Substance Abuse, Community
Deadline:
Apr. 3, 2020

“The purpose of the DFC Support Program is to establish and strengthen collaboration to support the efforts of community coalitions working to prevent youth substance use. By statute, the DFC Support Program has two goals:

  1. Establish and strengthen collaboration among communities, public and private non-profit agencies, as well as federal, state, local, and tribal governments to support the efforts of community coalitions working to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth (individuals 18 years of age and younger).
  2. Reduce substance abuse among youth and, over time, reduce substance abuse among adults by addressing the factors in a community that increase the risk of substance abuse and promoting the factors that minimize the risk of substance abuse.”

Funder: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Eligibility:
Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, government organizations serving as bona fide agents: state governments, county governments, city or township governments, territorial governments, special district governments, independent school districts, state controlled institutions of higher education, American Indian or Alaska Native tribal governments (federally recognized or state-recognized) | Non-government Organizations serving as Bona fide Agents: Public institutions of higher education, private institutions of higher education, Professional associations, Voluntary organizations, Faith-based organizations,American Indian or Alaska native tribally designated organizations.
Amount:
Up to $125,000
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

The post Community Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Program Grants appeared first on Youth Today.


The First Female Muslim American to Win an Olympic Medal Is Passing Along the Mentoring to ‘Our Youth’

Woman on stage in hijab talks to young woman on stage in beige suit.

Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad (left) is interviewed by Mia Prince, a Boston high school student, during the National Mentoring Summit. | Stan Murzyn

WASHINGTON — Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad would not be where she is today were it not for her mentor, also an Olympic medalist in fencing.

As a teen, Muhammad was often the only African American — and the only one in hijab — at fencing competitions in and around her hometown of Maplewood, N.J. She was “othered” in the predominantly white sport, she said in a recent interview — a form of discrimination that continued as she advanced through the ranks.

When her national team lost a major match, her coach was especially critical of her performance during video review sessions, Muhammad said. She was also left off important emails, not informed of details about practices and made to feel like an outcast on Team USA. “They did not want me there, and they made it very clear they didn’t want me there.”

Like endless jabs, the microaggressions were intended to drive her from the sport. 

Fortunately, her mentor — Peter Westbrook, a bronze medalist in the 1984 games and head of a nonprofit fencing organization for youth from underserved communities — encouraged her to deflect them. The first African American to medal in the sport, Westbrook used the lessons he learned during his Olympic journey years ago to prod Muhammad to continue hers.

He was a “guiding force that has helped me see what’s possible,” Muhammad said — a story she told last month at a national mentoring conference here.

Westbrook provided the kind of ongoing holistic support that is the hallmark of strong mentoring, helping her physically, emotionally and spiritually, Muhammad said. He gave her tactical fencing lessons, counseled her using a faith-based approach and helped her envision herself as a professional athlete. He also helped fund her Olympic dreams through his foundation.

She learned to cast aside the “white noise” of mistreatment and to believe in herself. 

“I feel like you have to love yourself, have to appreciate yourself, you have to know you’re capable,” she said. “That’s such an important message for kids today. We often look for validation from other people. I think the validation you need has to come from within first.”

Westbrook wasn’t Muhammad’s only mentor. She also credits Keeth Smart, who won a silver medal in the team saber competition in the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing. Also African American, Smart counseled Muhammad on everything from footwork to diet to cross-training. 

She sought to “recreate his blueprint” for victory, she said, and the plan worked. In 2016, Muhammad became the first U.S. woman to compete in the Olympic games in hijab and the first female Muslim American to win an Olympic medal. In 2017, Mattel unveiled its first hijabi Barbie, which was modeled after Muhammad’s likeness. 

And in 2018 Muhammad — who has also launched her own line of modest clothing — released a memoir about her fight for “an unlikely American dream.”

As an activist, entrepreneur, author and speaker, Muhammad is now paying it forward. 

As an instructor at the Westbrook Foundation, she has helped dozens of underserved kids master the sport of fencing. And she’s working closely with Isis Washington, a fencer and volunteer coach at the Westbrook Foundation who Muhammad says is “on track” to qualify for the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo this summer.

“When we have the opportunity to give our youth kind of a lens into what’s possible for them, it can make a huge difference,” she said. 

“I don’t know where I would be in sport without having these really strong mentors in my life.”

The post The First Female Muslim American to Win an Olympic Medal Is Passing Along the Mentoring to ‘Our Youth’ appeared first on Youth Today.


Only Death Ends the Rescue Fantasy for Clinician — At First

recidivism: aggressive young man and therapist

Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

From training to practicing to now teaching, one of the key factors in psychotherapy that continually surfaces is countertransference (sorry self-care), which we know as the phenomenon of the clinician reaction to the client. I prefer to think of countertransference as our “entanglement” with the client — it is never neat and organized. And I think a lot of managing entanglement starts with recognizing that fundamentally, clinicians are entangled with themselves and the stories we create for ourselves. So this is a story about the story about my entanglements.

I began working as a behavioral health clinician in a juvenile detention center mainly by chance, so the experience was going to be completely new to me. I had no prior training with this population, and while I did have experience in a residential setting, the idea of going to do behavioral therapy in a secure detention center was an unknown for me.

Sean E. Snyder

So my clinician story started with projection and preconception. The overt preconceptions are easy to see going into the detention setting — these youth are here for allegations of violent offenses, property crimes, drug-related crimes. My introduction to providing care in this setting was reassurances from the organization in charge: that the detention staff will be outside the door in case something happens, or if a youth is on what is known as “one-to-one” supervision, staff could come into the room during the session. 

I saw my first youth for needs assessment and the encounter remains unforgettable. Here is this adolescent in blue scrubs, no identifiable features, and I knew nothing. Admittedly, it felt like I was getting through sessions as quickly as possible because I didn’t really know what to do. There was that first-session anxiety — the functional kind in new scenarios — but I remember trying to resist the preconceptions and projections. 

Cue overcompensation. To resolve my “quickness,” my story came to involve seeing as many youth as possible to extend my reach, to build a sense of competence with me, to try to provide the most access for what seemed to be a scarce resource. But I resisted getting entangled with the depth of their stories, and looking back, it seems largely protective of my story.

Reality always wins. As months became a year and beyond, I struggled with the youth readmissions and recidivism, questioning myself: “Why were they coming back so frequently? What role did I have to play in this?” Clinicians tend to overstate their importance and downplay their role in undesirable outcomes (anecdotally and empirically speaking …), and so I figured this must just be a total product of the flawed system. The system wasn’t trauma-informed, not responsive to the needs of adolescents in a large urban area. So the rescue fantasy, the fantasy where a “helper” will save vulnerable people from their plight, came in full force.

Nothing works with everyone

After establishing my workflow and processes, I was fortunate to be trained in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, the key (in my mind) that would unlock the system and produce such good outcomes. At the time, this training felt like the panacea that I had been looking for. With all of the trauma exposure these youth experience, clearly the answer to their challenges was trauma-focused treatment. I had my daily musings: “If I could just get youth to do this treatment, then the likelihood of their return should decrease.” 

I did have some treatment success, even with small doses of the intervention, but I generalized the model to practically every youth that I saw. To take a step back, there is no doubt that youth can benefit from skill-building interventions and some exposure to their stressors, but with my practice, I went a little overboard. I was defining my story further by negotiating how I would get entangled with my clients — I’d go by what the evidence says. And I was not ready for the impact of the entanglement of trauma work.

By putting myself out there with trauma treatment, I wasn’t ready for the effects of it. The fatigue was something I rationalized. Month by month, I began developing burnout symptoms and eventually I had secondary traumatic stress symptoms. I superficially sensed that I needed to go to therapy but I was so reluctant because it didn’t fit my story. I had chosen to do this work and it was just the byproduct of my decision. And I told myself, “I will press on and get through it.” ( I did eventually go for my own therapy.).

The story kept going because I had been doing the treatment and there were enough results, albeit mixed results. Some youth were getting “better” with their symptoms, some got worse, some I never saw again. Then there were some who appeared so much more functionally present but still reported high levels of symptoms. Here was the new challenge I had to overcome — “incongruence.” 

I began to get crazy about measurement-based care, thinking “if I just measured everything correctly, then I would be able to get the results I was hoping for.” Stop me if you have heard this — treatment becoming more about the clinician’s insecurity than the patient’s needs. (For reference, our team systematically used the PHQ-9, GAD-7, the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire, the Peabody Treatment Progress Battery, the Childhood PTSD Symptom Scale-5 and the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale.)

I did my new and improved measurements, and some of these activities helped. I incorporated the CGI scale to give myself some slack about functional improvement but lack of symptom reduction. As an aside, this part of my story is not to trash measurement-based care; it is a really effective practice for client treatment outcomes. But it was another way for me to keep the reins on my story, to manage the entanglement. 

In my craze of figuring out measurement, I got connected to a brilliant doctor/researcher on the West Coast who was doing amazing work with pain management in children. She gave me what I was looking for with notes about measures, problem hierarchies; but she gave me something so much more at the end of that email: “Have you ever heard of healing-centered engagement?”

That question challenged the story, and I can see that she engaged my head to get at the heart of what the work is all about. The youth aren’t their traumas, they are more than just what happened to them and their collection of experiences.

Shut up and listen

Thomas Merton, a social activist of the 1960s and American Trappist monk, mentioned in his “Letter to a Young Activist” that the work becomes less about the problem and more about the people. More eloquently put:

“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.”

Sometimes, to get the message, you really have to shut up and start listening more as a clinician. For years, I told everyone who asks about my work that the best part of the job is the people, the youth I am honored to see. I get the chance to grow alongside them, to have moments of grace, shared joys and shared disappointments. I’ve seen some youth grow up in the system, and while that is disheartening, they are still people under our care. So the story now becomes less about symptom reduction, measurements, congruence and my story, and it becomes more about what all this means for them, how their identity and self-concept are affected, how they are striving toward the self that they envision for themselves.

Then there are those wake-up call moments that really put things into perspective. I have learned of the deaths of many youths I had clinical contact with, with cause of death ranging from intentional or unintentional shootings to suicide to unintentional overdose. My initial reaction to the first client death was another fantasy: “How did I not delay death for this youth.” 

It is a complete shock to hear a client has died, as it really is the most existential entanglement possible. And it’s moments like these that really make me think back to why I do this work in the first place — to improve the quality of life of people and their communities. It’s going back to that mission, the mission of healing, of resilience, of striving towards the possible, that helps to keep me moving forward. It’s about their stories and my stories together at this instance of time. Social work is not about delaying death but enhancing life. It’s authoring the story for what it is, what it could be, the mess, entanglements and everything in between. 

Sean Snyder, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical worker practicing and teaching in Philadelphia. He enjoys Phillies baseball.

The post Only Death Ends the Rescue Fantasy for Clinician — At First appeared first on Youth Today.