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Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future

by The Youth Connection, Inc.
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Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future
The Rest of The Story...
The Rest of The Story...

Happy New Year and our hope and wish to all of our supporters is that this year will find you blessed and highly favored. Thank you for giving your support to The Youth Connection and helping us help our youth. The 2019 year in review was great. Once again we serviced over 5,000 children, youth and families. This year, because of the excellent work that our Youth Connection Career Academies have done, we received a workforce development grant for in-school and out-of-school youth. We were able to forge new partnerships and opportunities to further our goal of connecting youth to brighter futures.  

I2D2: Fit ‘N Fun Family Clubs provided nutrition education to over 500 youth at our area schools and they are clamoring to invite them back again this year. Our parents are beaming as they participate in our Strengthening Families program with their 9 – 14 year olds and have made major changes in how they interact with one another.  

Our holiday celebration was amazing. We have over 65 youth enrolled in our RISE program that focuses on youth who have aged out of foster care. Your contributions have helped us to find them shelter as well as provide them with food, clothing, and resources. Many times they come to their appointments with us hungry and we were able to provide them with food. Their babies have shown up without shoes and jackets and your contributions have helped us to make sure they left us clothed and warm. At our holiday celebration all the children in this program received bikes through our partnership with Aberdeen Bikes. Thanks to Dollar Tree all the children across our programs received toys. The Youth Connection board members, family, friends, Northridge Church, and many TYC partners adopted many of the youth in our RISE program and provided many of the items on their Christmas wish lists. It made us stop and pause when many of our youth ask for gift cards from area markets to purchase food. We also want to recognize Detroit City Councilman Scott Benson and his staff for providing us with over 100 winter coats, hats, and gloves to distribute to our youth. Thanks to all of you because your contributions helped us to purchase gifts for those few youth who did not get adopted.

We have consistently shared with you our successes, acknowledgements and recognitions and how your contributions have helped us make a difference. As we approach this New Year I want to always be mindful of the trying journeys many of our youth undertake. It’s what we did not know that makes this tale of success and failure all the more riveting. A couple of months ago one of our youth, Lauren, who had “successfully” exited our program stopped by and left a book she had written. I was out of the office but the staff was so excited that she had come by and said she appeared to be doing well.

In reading her book I was devastated. She shared a story of addiction, abuse, and terror. She did not leave a number or how to contact her but recently she stopped by again and shared the rest of the story of the journey she went on after leaving our program 11 years ago.

“Dr. D, TYC was safety for me. It was a second chance for family and moms I never had. Every mentor I had in the program treated me like I was their child. You always told me I was special. This program gave me a sense of hope. It was a divine connection from God. TYC staff were genuine. I was not just an assignment, another case load, or another dollar. When I was struggling with my foster grandparents you helped me, you loved on me. Even when I made bad decisions and put y’all in compromising situations y’all still loved me. The program gave me an opportunity to be a part of life without having to address the chaos of my situation.”

Before Lauren exited our program she was hired full time at one of our recreation centers and exited “successfully.” But things took a turn for the worst. She was dealing with serious depression and ran away from her foster grandparents into a life of human trafficking, drug addiction, and terror.

“I wish I had spoken up and shared with you guys what I was going through but I did not want to hurt anyone. If I had spoken up I would not have gotten hurt. But I believe that God places angels in your life. Light always outshine the darkness. So many people in my life were light carriers like you and the staff at TYC. That helped me through focusing on the positive.”  

Lauren found other light carriers who protected her when her life was threaten by the “Dad” (AKA Pimp) and shepherded her through drug rehab.

“I came back because you and Ms. Hill were like Moms to me, like family and family don’t disappear because you aren’t in their face. I wanted to reconnect because I needed to show my appreciation to everyone who treated me normal. I know how it saved me and wanted to give back to share my testimony so others won’t have to suffer in silence. If I had spoken up I would have gotten help. The miracle for me is prevention for others. I want to tell other youth to speak up, say something, and never feel invisible, unheard, or alone. Never let pride take you away from your destiny. I also wanted to know if my picture was still on your board.”

Lauren is now working full time with benefits at a major outreach program helping youth entangled in Human Trafficking. And yes, after 11 years, her picture is still on my board.

The Youth Connection Career Academies.
The Youth Connection Career Academies.
The Youth Connection I2D2 Fit 'N Fun Family Clubs.
The Youth Connection I2D2 Fit 'N Fun Family Clubs.
TYC Substance Abuse Prevention Red Ribbon Day.
TYC Substance Abuse Prevention Red Ribbon Day.
TYC RISE Program Holiday Celebration.
TYC RISE Program Holiday Celebration.
"Left to Tell"
"Left to Tell"

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Giving Back.... That's What We Do!
Giving Back.... That's What We Do!

We are always eternally grateful for the support and encouragement that The Youth Connection receives from those who donate to our efforts. Part of being the recipient of those who give is giving back and passing on the generosity of others. The Youth Connection works to instill in our youth that they can also give back and support their own communities. They are encouraged to identify service projects and lend their hands in improving the communities they live in. Our youth have conducted major neighborhood clean ups where they have boarded up abandoned houses and removed over a ton of trash from vacant lots. They have worked in urban gardens to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for families in surrounding neighborhoods.  

We have shared with you how our youth have conducted environmental scans of targeted communities identifying the liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries that have taken up residence. Based on our youths’ efforts they were responsible for shutting down a marijuana dispensary that was not authorized to operate. Our youth provided input and recommendations for a social media campaign that pushed prevention messages to the phones of youth who were in the parking lot or inside a liquor store or a marijuana dispensary. Having the youth engaged has it challenges. We had to scrap the original campaign we developed and shared with them because they did not like how their communities were portrayed. The success of their revised campaign was amazing.

Four of our youth volunteered to go with staff to Grapevine, Texas, for the Mid-Year CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) Conference where they spent four days participating in the Youth Leadership Initiative. During these sessions our youth engaged in activities from fundamentals of coalition building and strategic planning to evaluation and research. They now have the responsibility of sharing their experience with other youth and teaching them how they can be community change agents. De’Andra, the chair of our youth coalition, shared:

“I have been with The Youth Connection for five years and each year I am exposed to new opportunities and how I can make a difference. I went to Washington DC where I had the opportunity to meet with our representatives including Senator Debbie Stabenow and shared my concerns about drug use among students and other youth.

Denzell is also an active member of the youth coalition and he indicated how important it is for youth to make a difference in their own communities.

“At the Mid-Year CADCA Conference I learned about what they called the strategic prevention framework and how to identify the concerns that we see and how youth can address them. We drew pictures of what substance use looked like in our neighborhoods and we are going to share them with other youth in our coalition and work on what we can do about it.”

Involving youth as change agents is rewarding and encouraging. The opioid epidemic is impacting communities across the country. Data shows that even youth can be engaged to help save lives. Our data has also shown that in our targeted neighborhoods a large number of the overdoses and overdose deaths are among seniors 55 and older. Our youth have asked to be trained on how to save a life. To date we have conducted Narcan trainings to learn how to reverse opioid overdoses for over 375 youth. These youth receive training and a Narcan kit that can be used to help people in their communities. Giving Back…That’s What We Do!

We wish to thank all of the donors who continue to support The Youth Connection. Your generous support of The Youth Connection has allowed us to teach our youth that they are braver than they believe, stronger than they seem and smarter than they think! (Adapted from A.A. Milne)

Displayed Where It Can Make A Difference.
Displayed Where It Can Make A Difference.
Learning to Become Change Agents.
Learning to Become Change Agents.
Telling Our Story to Senator Debbie Stabenow.
Telling Our Story to Senator Debbie Stabenow.
Learning What We Can Do About It!
Learning What We Can Do About It!
375 Youth Received Narcan Training to Save Lives.
375 Youth Received Narcan Training to Save Lives.

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Mama I Made It!
Mama I Made It!

I am sure for many of the parents who read our report you have this sense of pride for your children’s accomplishments and successes. This is the time of the year when many of you are going to graduations, prom parties, and college send offs. At The Youth Connection we are feeling that same sense of accomplishment and pride. Against all odds, despite the statistics, with sheer determination and willpower a large number of our youth are graduating, some with honors. They are attending proms looking like princes and princess and being accepted into colleges around the country! We attended graduations and prom parties. We screamed when the kid who challenged our resolve brought in his acceptance letter to Grand Valley State University. We have acceptance letters plastered on the bulletin boards and prom pictures and graduation photos proudly displayed in our offices. They made it and like proud parents it was hard to hold back tears. Arion shared, “The Youth Connection made me stay focus through all the struggles I had. When my mom passed away you guys were here for me. You taught me how to become a man. I listened to the lectures and lessons of the people you brought in to speak to us. When I got to meet Mayor Duggan I knew I was somebody. Y’all always had something good for me –that’s why I always came back.”

The college students from last year have come back for the summer and are now part of our summer youth employment. Mya (3.0 her first year!) is back from Central Michigan University and indicated, “There is no place like The Youth Connection. I had great experiences that help me prepare for my first year in college. When I share my experiences with my friends they are surprised that I got to speak at a national conference in Florida that The Youth Connection took me to!” Your support has helped us make sure college application fees were paid. You helped us secure official copies of birth certificates, social security cards and driver licenses.

Your support has also paid for a book of poems, pictures and thoughts that were powered by prevention. Our middle schoolers that participated in our LifeSkills program submitted their poems and pictures on self-image, self-improvement, making decisions, underage drinking, smoking, using drugs, communication, anxiety, and hope.

Jeremiah S. – 7th grade Dove Academy

Self-esteem is the dream,

That can never be broken.

I was born a legend,

A legend awoken.

 

I’m confidential,

I’m beneficial,

I made my own way,

So now I’m an official.

 

I’m making these moves,

Every now and then,

It’s in my name,

I’m always for the win.

 

I’m stuck at the top,

I could never be stopped,

I cannot be brought down,

Because I’m not a clown.

 

I deserve a crown,

My head up off the ground,

100’s stay around,

My ticket out of town.

 

We combined their creativity in a book and made sure each youth that contributed received their personal bound copy. We wish you could have all been there to see their faces!

We have come to realize it is not the required outcomes of our funding sources that make our programs successful. It is the dedication and commitment of a staff who see our youth as their own, who hold them to high expectations because we know what they are capable of becoming. Our grants pay for the programming and certain services but the help we get from partners like you contribute to our ability to feed them when they come to us hungry. Clothe them when they tell us they do not have the appropriate outfit for a job interview. Rent a van when they have been evicted and all that they own is on the streets. There are no line items in these budgets that cover the cost of getting up in the middle of the night to secure a shelter for one of our kids who call us and say he has no place to lay his head.

We worked with the former budget director for the state of Michigan and she helped us formulate a Return on Investment for dollars contributed to The Youth Connection. It was determined for every dollar we receive the return on that investment is $20.17. So for every dollar you donate to us please rest assured you have made a tremendous investment in the future of our youth. Just think, when we reach our $50,000 goal through Global Giving the return on that investment will be $608,500. Thank you so much for your invest in us!

Powered By Prevention!
Powered By Prevention!
High Expectations!
High Expectations!
Prom Prince & Princess.
Prom Prince & Princess.
Inspired By Prevention.
Inspired By Prevention.
Home From College and Making A Difference!
Home From College and Making A Difference!

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We Can Make A Difference!
We Can Make A Difference!

Sometimes being in the trenches it is difficult to see that you are making a difference. We tend to focus on the youth that we could not reach and the families we could not help. We sharpen our efforts and keep trying. We are committed to never giving up and believing that failure is never final. But every now and then we have to look up and look back over the road we are traveling and see the impact of what we are doing. We are making a difference and we are so proud of what we are doing. We know we are making a difference when the youth who have "graduated" from our program spread the word on what a tremendous agency this is and others join our mounting waiting list. We are making a difference when homeless youth hear from a youth we helped and come asking for assistance because they heard that we care. We are making a difference when we receive visits from youth that have left our program and are serving oversees in the armed services and share with us that if it hadn't been for The Youth Connection they would not have had the opportunities they are now experiencing. We are making a difference when we pick up the office phone and it's the youth we helped get out of the gang and is now living in another state and he says "I just called the say Thank you and I love you guys!"  

Our funding sources give us accolades for our work and we are proud of being recognized by many of our funders as the go to agency. But it is the support that we receive from people just like you who believe in what we are doing and support the differences we are making that are really fueling our success. It's the anonymous donors, the recurring donors, and the one time donors who examine what we do and think this is an agency that does make a difference that help the most. Thank you!

We will continue to make you proud and keep you posted on our successes and challenges. A challenge we are facing like many across the country is the opioid epidemic and the impact of recreational marijuana on our youth. In addressing these challenges we know the benefit of collaborating and acting on the voices of those who are directly impacted. Our President and CEO of The Youth Connection acts as Chairman of The Love Detroit Prevention Coalition and works aggressively with many partners including the Police and Health Departments. Our collective impact was nationally recognized by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America when we received the 2019 Chairman's Award "in recognition for exemplary demonstration and application of core competencies and essential processes of effective community problem solving." A problem we addressed was having our youth spearhead the effort to close an unauthorized marijuana dispensary in our community. We worked with our youth to promote a social media geofencing campaign that sent a prevention message to the phones of any youth in our targeted communities that were in the parking lot or inside of any authorized and unauthorized marijuana dispensaries. The contributions we received from GlobalGiving supported us taking two youth and a parent to the national convention in Washington, DC to stand with us as we were all recognized and received the Chairman's Award.

Our efforts continue and we are training youth and community members to administer Naloxone which can save the life of a person who may be experiencing an opioid/heroin overdose. Working in collaboration with the local Mental Health Authority and our City's health department we are on a mission to train 1,000 plus members of our community by the end of the year to Help Save a Life. If one life is saved we will know that we have made a difference. Your contributions to GlobalGiving helps support this effort and will continue to help us make a difference in this and other challenges we take on. To our GlobalGiving family - thank you!

Chairman's Award Winners!
Chairman's Award Winners!
Help Us Transform Communities.
Help Us Transform Communities.
Yes We Can Make A Difference.
Yes We Can Make A Difference.
Together We Can.
Together We Can.
CADCA Chairman & the U.S. Surgeon General.
CADCA Chairman & the U.S. Surgeon General.

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Connecting Youth to Brighter Futures.
Connecting Youth to Brighter Futures.

The opioid epidemic…use of marijuana among our youth…the illegal drugs and the overdoses impacts us all. We can choose to believe someone else will address these issues for us or you can help those who feel that they can make a difference to do so. The Youth Connection provides services in communities that have its fair share of challenges. We are active in finding solutions and creating lasting impact to make sure we are able to connect our youth to brighter futures. Your donations have supported our substance abuse prevention program as we provide life-skills training throughout our area schools and community. You allowed us to provide incentives as we work with families through our Strengthening Families programming. We are actively engaged in providing Narcan training for our youth and community members to help them save a life by using naloxone to reverse an opioid or heroin overdose. We work with a community coalition comprised of our police department, schools, our health department, mental health services, media, youth, parents, other community based organizations, our elected officials, and others to collectively use data driven approaches to address substance use and misuse in our targeted communities.

We are making a difference. The Photovoice project that our youth conducted to share pictures of their community and how drugs are impacting where they live has been viewed by hundreds in our community who were stunned by the pictures and narratives painted by our youth. Youth created and collected Six Word Stories to share with their classmates and represented their stories in paintings. As we shared in our previous report, our youth presented at a national conference about their work and why it is important for us to hear their voices. Their efforts resulted in one of the marijuana dispensaries that was not authorized by the city to operate being closed and the building is now for sale! Our youth hosted an Opioid Town Hall Meeting for family members and classmates. The youth who received the Naloxone training personally shared the dangers of the non-medical use of prescription drugs and presented a pill party skit. They shared information that their parents were unaware of and were able to answer questions from attendees based on what they had learned.

With the passage of recreational marijuana in our state we are concerned about the impact it could have on our youth. Rest assured we will remain vigilant. Our Love Detroit Prevention Coalition launched a communications campaign to increase awareness of the substance abuse issues facing our community. One of the major components of the campaign was push notifications targeting liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries. To reach our audience, we utilized a geo-fencing campaign that allowed us to push substance abuse prevention messaging. The geo-fencing pushed a notification to the phones of youth and adults (who lived in our targeted zip codes) who were inside a liquor store, marijuana dispensary, or their parking lots and who had Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram notifications allowed on their device. Our original goal was to use geo-fencing to have 300,000 impressions of our notifications viewed but we ended up with over 415,000 people viewing our notifications. Also, we had 471 people click-through those notifications to receive more information about our Coalition and how they could get involved.

We are excited to share with you that on February 5, 2019, in Washington, DC at the 2019 CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) Annual Leadership Forum our Coalition will receive the Chairman’s Award! For our data driven strategies, the geo-fencing project, and our Hear My Voice Campaign with our youth. It is truly exciting to be recognized for the work we do. However, it is so important for us to recognize all of you who support us through your donations. You allow us to be innovative and creative. You helped us to buy underwear and socks for youth at Christmas because it was on their letter to Santa. You help us provide clothing for youth who are interviewing for jobs. You allow us to provide snacks for youth who come to us directly after school. Your support opens the door to trainings and opportunities our youth would not have access to. Your contributions are used to help us leverage funding opportunities and keep youth in college who cannot afford to purchase the books to cover just the tip of the iceberg. To each and every one of our donors and contributors – Because of you…2018 is one of our best years yet - THANK YOU!

Youth Led Photovoice - The Impact of Drug Use.

Youth Led Photovoice - The Impact of Drug Use.
Youth Led Photovoice - The Impact of Drug Use.
Youth Led Opioid Town Hall.
Youth Led Opioid Town Hall.
Youth Trained To Save Lives.
Youth Trained To Save Lives.
Because Of You...
Because Of You...
I Got What I Wanted for Christmas.
I Got What I Wanted for Christmas.

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Organization Information

The Youth Connection, Inc.

Location: Detroit, MI - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @tycdetroit
Project Leader:
Grenae Dudley, Ph.D.
Detroit, MI United States
$35,918 raised of $50,000 goal
 
545 donations
$14,082 to go
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