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Connecting Detroit Youth to a Brighter Future

by The Youth Connection, Inc.
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
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!

Links:

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
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.

Links:

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.

Links:

We Made You Proud!
We Made You Proud!

Like proud parents we cannot stop bragging. Your support has truly helped us connect youth to brighter futures. We know you will be just as proud of our youth as we are.

To begin, let me boast about eight of our youth who participated in the CEO Academy hosted by Spring Arbor University this summer. The youth spent a week on campus learning what it would take to run their own business, honing their entrepreneurial skills, understanding what it takes to participate on a team, and connecting with business leaders, mentors and resources to help advance their team project. They were placed on teams that had to come up with a project that was presented before a “Shark Tank” panel of business leaders who selected the winning ideas. All of our youth were winners! Kendell B., De’Andra G., and Tamir H. were members on the first place team sharing in a $1,000 cash prize along with each receiving a $1,000 scholarship to defer any school-related expense. Denzell H., David M, Jada T., and Ariana C. were on the second place team sharing a $500 cash prize! The youth cannot stop talking about the experience and we could not be prouder.

The Youth Connection has partnered with Conserve School, which is a semester school for high school students who have demonstrated a genuine interest in the natural world and who are motivated to conserve it. This semester-long immersion in environmental studies and outdoor activities deepens students’ love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. They approached The Youth Connection to help recruit minority students who had the academic acumen, love of nature, and willingness to spend a semester a long way away from home using nature as a platform for learning. Two of the youth we referred received $25,000 scholarships and a $2,000 stipend to cover travel and equipment expenses. Shai M. and her grandmother visited the campus this summer and were blown away by the campus and the opportunity that Shai will have this fall. One of our college students, Delvante P., was hired by Conserve School as a teaching fellow teaching English using nature as his inspiration!

Wait! I can’t stop now! Twenty of our youth were active with our Love Detroit Prevention Coalition youth committee and conducted an environmental scan of our targeted communities, implemented a photo voice project, and presented to City Council. As a result of their efforts a marijuana dispensary that was not authorized to operate was closed by the city. Each of our youth received the Detroit City Council Award of Recognition that commended them for being a voice in our community. One of the City Council members indicated that many people complain but our youth choose to do something about it! These youth also received the Leadership Award from Youth United at their Youth Spotlight Awards Dinner, a local group that recognizes youth who actively engage and take the lead in improving their communities!

Twenty two of the youth who are in our year round academy were scheduled to graduate. Not only did they graduate, but every single one of them are now in colleges and universities around the country. They were accepted at Harris Stowe State University, Roosevelt University, Ferris State University, Northern Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Olivet College, Central State University, Virginia Union University, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, Tennessee State University, Miles College to name a few. Almost all of them received scholarships with several receiving full rides!

The Youth Connection partners with about 35 different organizations to provide job experiences for our youth. The National Park Service brought back three of our youth this summer for unsubsidized employment hired directly by the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. The City of Detroit hired Zachariah S. full time and the Detroit Water Department hired David M. full time in their law department. Both departments indicated how well prepared they were for the work experience and without hesitation welcomed our youth to their workforce.  

And last and certainly least our President and CEO was chosen by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Office of Recovery Oriented Systems of Care as the Preventionist of the Year in 2018!

We are proud and we hope you are too because your support and faith in us help us connect our youth to the brighter futures that we promised.

CEO Academy.
CEO Academy.
Teaching English Differently.
Teaching English Differently.
Youth City Council Recognition.
Youth City Council Recognition.
Thank You For Believing In Me!
Thank You For Believing In Me!
Preventionist Of The Year 2018!
Preventionist Of The Year 2018!

Links:

Hear MY Voice - Greetings From Florida!
Hear MY Voice - Greetings From Florida!

The Youth Connection (TYC) would like to thank all of our donors who have helped us connect our youth to a brighter future this year! Our youth are having a fantastic summer thanks to your support – we have over 250 kids currently working at PAID summer internships and our substance abuse prevention and exercise and nutrition programs have served close to 1,000 youth this year!

But, with all of the success we have experienced with our youth programming this summer, one special group of young ladies have gone above and beyond our expectations and we couldn’t be more proud of them.

Mya, DeAna, Sandria, and Randi have been very active members of our Drug Free Community Youth Coalition, the Love Detroit Prevention Coalition, this year. As a part of their regular meetings, these young women wanted to do something about the HUGE number of marijuana caregiver dispensaries they see in their neighborhood. With names like Starbuds, Buds ‘R Us, and Motor City Kush, these businesses promoting and selling medical marijuana are everywhere in our community and they wanted to do something about it.

These young ladies talked with youth at their schools and helped distribute surveys that told us:

  • Youth see marijuana as easily accessible
  • It is being sold and shared at school
  • Youth have reported that they buy marijuana from the dispensaries and sell it on the streets
  • Our youth see youth smoking in and around school

After hearing feedback from their peers, the youth set up a meeting with our City Councilman, Scott Benson, who heard their concerns about these “pot shops” all over our community. He asked them to make a presentation to the Health and Safety Committee of the Detroit City Council. At the presentation, our youth expressed their concerns about the number of dispensaries they see every day and the harmful effects it is having on their peers. Finally, they asked the committee what they were going to do about it!

The Health and Safety Committee thanked us for our presentation and referred us to Councilman James Tate, who is spearheading the marijuana issue for the full council. Councilman Tate’s office then sent us a list of approved dispensaries and we found that of the close to 200 marijuana caregiver dispensaries, only 56 were legally approved to operate!

To find out which ones were operating in our community, our youth voted to do an environmental scan of the 3 zip codes in our neighborhoods. TYC staff and youth drove around the entire area and wrote down the names and addresses of each marijuana caregiver dispensary they saw. We found 31 dispensaries in our neighborhood of only 22 square miles!

Upon comparing our results with the list from Councilman Tate, we discovered that only 13 of the 31 dispensaries were legally approved to operate! We forwarded our results to the Councilman’s office and they forwarded our findings to The City of Detroit Property Maintenance Director and to The Law Department. They promised to let us know what actions would be taken!

Also as a result of this project, an opportunity also arose to attend the CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) Mid-Year Training to present our project and what we were doing to stop youth marijuana use in our community. Our young ladies submitted an abstract and they were awarded the chance to present their project to an international audience at the training in Orlando, Florida! Over 2,000 people were at the training and over 100 attendees attended the session with our youth presenting! Responses to the presentation were overwhelmingly positive with many in attendance asking to meet with our youth to discuss their project in more detail.

You can be assured that these 4 young ladies will continue to press City Council for action against unlicensed marijuana dispensaries in our community and will continue to work to educate their peers on the benefits of being drug-free. They’ve already collected dozens of anti-drug six word stories from their peers that will be on display at the Detroit Health Department and they’re continuing to work with our local police precinct on youth substance abuse awareness.

We are very proud of the work that our youth are doing in our programs this summer and can’t thank donors like you enough for your support! Thank you for allowing our youth to have opportunities to have their voice be heard and for the chance to present at international conferences! Your support means the world to our youth and to our agency!

Hear OUR Voices!
Hear OUR Voices!
City Council Presentation.
City Council Presentation.
OUR Impact On Social Media
OUR Impact On Social Media
Presenting at CADCA.
Presenting at CADCA.
Don
Don't Decide For Us Without Us.

Links:

 

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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
$33,628 raised of $50,000 goal
 
488 donations
$16,372 to go
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