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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
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!

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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't Decide For Us Without Us.
Don't Decide For Us Without Us.

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The Youth Connection's Little Bike Shop!
The Youth Connection's Little Bike Shop!

Start a Business? No. But I can recite the Pythagorean Theorem for you…

We would like to thank all of our GlobalGiving donors for your support since we launched our campaign in 2015! Your donations have made a huge difference in the lives of our youth and their families. Below is the latest project of how The Youth Connection Career Academies (TYCCA) is teaching our kids applicable, real-world skills for tomorrow.

How many times have you thought to yourself, “I’m really glad I learned the Pythagorean Theorem in school rather than how to file taxes or start a business?” With our latest youth development program, held in partnership with Junior Achievement, GM Cares, and Aberdeen Bikes of Chelsea, MI, TYCCA youth are learning practical, real-world skills that will help them achieve their dreams.

In January of this year, TYCCA decided to launch a youth entrepreneurship program utilizing the Junior Achievement (JA) Company Program curriculum. Through this program, youth, guided by our outstanding staff and real-world businessmen and women, tackle the challenge of entrepreneurship from A to Z. The JA curriculum introduced our students to the key elements involved in organizing and operating a business, while empowering them to solve problems and address local needs through the entrepreneurial spirit.

In the initial phase of the program, our youth selected a business by looking at SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) of ideas the group came up with. Through this process, they decided to launch The Youth Connection Little Bike Shop, a new business to repair bikes for people in our community and sell gently-used bikes to those who need them.

Once our youth decided on a business, they followed the Junior Achievement (JA) curriculum and set up management teams, set-up and sold shares to investors to earn capitol, and developed key partnerships with a currently operating bike shop to learn the ins and outs of running a bike shop. TYC Board of Director member Tiffanie J. Lewis also helped to recruit volunteers from General Motors to serve as mentors to the youth working on the project.

As of this month, our youth our getting ready to launch their business and have learned how to market and advertise the business as well as stock their bike shop with used bikes they can sell. The volunteers from Aberdeen bikes have also taught our youth the basics of bike repair and helped them decide what repair parts they are going to have in stock versus what they will need to order on a case by case basis.

“We think it is vitally important in this new economy that youth learn entrepreneurial skills,” said Grenaé Dudley, President and CEO of The Youth Connection. “It is these real-world, concrete life skills that make our programs (and those who support our programs) so incredible!”

“What I like about this program is that it gives us a chance to do something real,” said one of the youth participating in the project. “It’s not about reading how to start a small business – it is actually planning and launching a business that we think is needed in our neighborhood.”

Thank you so much for your past support of The Youth Connection! It is because of donors like you that we are able to give our youth the best programming in Detroit!

GM Cares Volunteers Working with TYCCA Youth.
GM Cares Volunteers Working with TYCCA Youth.
Fixed Up, Spruced Up, Ready to ride!
Fixed Up, Spruced Up, Ready to ride!
Creating The Plan.
Creating The Plan.
Working with Junior Achievement on our Flow Chart.
Working with Junior Achievement on our Flow Chart.
It's All Youth Led!
It's All Youth Led!

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What A Difference YOU Have Made!
What A Difference YOU Have Made!

A hundred years from now…it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child….. This saying is hanging on the wall in our office and rings true when we reflect on how our GlobalGiving family has helped us throughout this year. What a tremendous difference you have made in the lives of the youth we serve. Four youth in particular have brought us to tears as we share their stories.

Sydney- Chanel participated in our Career Academies and has spent four summers as a Park Guide with our Ticket to Float program. She is a level three certified kayaker and was hired each year by the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. Sidney graduated from Spring Arbor University this summer with her Bachelor of Science Degree. Can you imagine the pride we had when she sent us invitations to attend her graduation and goodbye dinner? She was leaving home to attend graduate school in the West Indies on St. Kitts pursuing a doctorate in Veterinary Science! This is one of our youth challenging the odds and determined to make a difference. She was encouraged to get involved with opportunities she never would have experienced if it had not been for The Youth Connection. Kayaking is not high on the list of how urban youth spend their summer vacations. When we asked Sidney about her experience with TYC she stated, “I am so proud to be affiliated with The Youth Connection. My friends cannot believe it when I tell them I spend my summers teaching kids how to kayak and I work for the National Park Service. I am so grateful that Ms. Hill encouraged me to get involved.” Not only did Sydney turn out to be an excellent Park Guide, she was instrumental in several water rescues every summer. Support from GlobalGiving helps us provide transportation to the River Raisin National Park for our TYC guides. The park is about an hour away from our home base. What a difference you have made.

As we were busy getting ready for our holiday Santa store and bike give away in December, Officer Hill one of our partners from the Detroit Police Department surprised us with a special visitor. Busy getting things together, our mouths dropped when Officer Hill showed up with James, another one of our youth who participated for several years in The Youth Connection Career Academies. Each summer for three years he was placed with the Detroit Police Department. “If I didn’t have something to do in the summers that was positive I cannot tell you where I would have ended up. Officer Hill and TYC have been there for me.” When he walked through the door in his Navy fatigues the office was buzzing. He was being deployed overseas and wanted to stop in and say hello and thank you. Support from GlobalGiving allows us to provide necessary resources that our grants won’t cover for our summer youth employment program. Your support also helps us reach out to partners who work with us to connect our youth to brighter futures.

In a pass report we shared a story about Larontae. Sentenced to community service by the court for stealing, he found us and asked if we would help him. He completed all of his community service hours and we enrolled him in our summer youth employment program. We went to court with him, submitted reports to the probation officer and strongly encouraged him to participate in our summer youth employment program. His dream was to receive his high school diploma but knew the situation at home would not allow him to do so. Gang members were calling him and trying to re-engage him. He shared with us that he had to get out of the environment he was in or he would not make it. We reached out to his brother who lived in Maine and was told if we could get Larontae to him, he would help him. We put him on a Greyhound bus to Maine with a care package including luggage, food, winter cloths and money. We threw a going away celebration for him and staff stayed with him until the Greyhound bus pulled away from the station.

Larontae stayed in touch and called us when he graduated from high school. He called again when he headed to Massachusetts to join Job Corp. The rest of the story….. In November we received a call from Larontae sharing that he had completed Job Corp and was returning to Maine having been accepted into an apprentice program for electrical engineering! The difference you made? Nothing in any of our grants would allow us to buy the bus ticket, luggage, cloths and food to send this young man out of state but Global Giving helped us to help him.

Our GlobalGiving funds have supported one of our youth who fell short of being able to pay for his college tuition even though he was working full time and maintaining over a 3.2 GPA. When threatened to be dropped from his classes he called TYC. We were able to create a plan for him and provide support to make sure he was not dropped from his classes. We will continue to work with him so that he has what he needs to succeed.

The Difference YOU make? It is quite simple… YOU give us the ability to answer when our kids call.  

Thanks to all of our GlobalGiving friends and family. To each and every one of our contributors and supporters thank you for helping us make a difference. Please continue to support The Youth Connection through our GlobalGiving Connecting Youth to Brighter Futures Project.

My Friends Can't Believe I Kayak Every Summer.
My Friends Can't Believe I Kayak Every Summer.
Thank You Youth Connection! You Make A Difference!
Thank You Youth Connection! You Make A Difference!
Next Stop Electrical Engineering.
Next Stop Electrical Engineering.
All In A Days Work.
All In A Days Work.
Thank You GlobalGiving!
Thank You GlobalGiving!

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I Fall On My Sword...OUCH!!!
I Fall On My Sword...OUCH!!!

This project report is a submission to GlobalGiving's 2017 Fail Forward Contest, where organizations are asked to share a story of when they tried something new that didn't go as planned and how they learned from it. Enjoy!

Reliving this story brings back painful memories. I think it was one of those times that I actually broke down in tears but don’t tell anyone. Being a nonprofit, as you know, means we rely on grants and look forward to multi-year grants to help support our efforts. Our youth and families depend on us to provide the services we promise and we depend on the generosity of others and potential funders to help us keep our promises. Like every nonprofit out there, we are used to applying for grants and not getting funded but this one was different.

We had the opportunity to apply for support for The Youth Connection Career Academies that would support this program year round and allow us to open career doors for urban youth that are often unavailable to them. We had to partner with schools and community organizations, engage former gang members and law enforcement. We were ready. Competition was stiff because this was a multi-year grant meaning once we were awarded the grant we had the opportunity to keep renewing the grant year after year!

The most difficult part of any grant application is putting together the coalition of support you need to meet your goals. As the purported fearless leader I went to work and contacted the principals of the targeted schools. I met with and presented to them and their staff and convinced three out of the four that we were the organization to partner with. We demonstrated that we could do the work and had a history of providing the needed services for the schools. We had out-maneuvered the other providers trying to get into the schools!

Our TYCCA Program Director met with the former gang leader and planned how we would engage older youth and what was needed to give them the resources to pursue a career that would connect them to brighter futures. He partnered with us and we were able to include his work and resources in our narrative describing how truly awesome we would be with this partnership. She developed the work plan and designed the programming that was needed to create a stellar project.

Our Communications Director went to work and obtained all the letters of support from former youth who had participated in our program. Because of the long standing partnerships we had with many of our community organizations we had letters of support from leaders in the community who believed, as we did, that we could provide the services that were outlined in the grant and seriously make a difference with youth on the east side of Detroit! He was also responsible for using the narrative to create the budget and the budget narrative

Weeks of preparation and work was coming to a head with the deadline looming. This was not one where we could compile all of our data and information into an electronic file and hit a button before the clock struck the deadline. This was one where we had to complete the forms, write the narrative adhering to the number of pages, spacing and font sizes, scan the letters of support, complete the budget and the budget narrative, include the partnership agreements and number the pages. Once edited and compiled we had to then create five copies of a three ring binder size document and binder clip them making sure on the number pages we had our identifying information. We then had to stuff them in an envelope and drive across town (avoiding all traffic and police) to drop this package of papers that would carry our opportunity to provide expanded services to our youth to the funding agency!

The manual labor involved in actually processing the application was where failure loomed.

The necessary pieces of the application were in place but our lack of coordination to bring the pieces together started the backward slide. We were convinced this was one of the better grants we had written. Because we did not prioritize what was most important to focus on the week the grant was due we continued meetings and kept appointments that had no value added to our agency. Troubled loomed. We assumed we had time to complete the narrative the morning it was due but did not anticipate the power failure that made us redo our narrative, or how long it would take to collate five stacks of 100 sheets of paper per specific guidelines.

With 20 minutes to get to the drop off site. We left our office still binding the packets in the car having to defy the speed limits, praying for no police surveillance along the way. Running behind time we hit the freeway…noooooooooooooooo – it was backed up. We lost serious time and had five minutes to traverse a distance fifteen minutes away. Needless to say we did not make it. We were five minutes late and the doors were shut!

As I beat the steering wheel with tears pouring I felt we had lost a major chance to help a lot of youth in Detroit that needed it desperately! I knew I had to take the responsibility for not planning for all contingencies. But trust me, I did not need to or want to hear it from my son who travels all over the world and is a big time project manager telling me “Mom, you know that was your fault!”

Those were hard lessons learned. We have since written many grants but every aspect is managed with a focus on exactly what it will take to have every aspect of the proposal reviewed and in place to submit long before it is due. The other lesson we learned is to better coordinate everybody’s responsibilities in the grant-writing process. That way we know exactly who is responsible for what part of the grant and how it fits into our timeline.

The results have netted us three major grants in the past year since we missed the deadline - one is a five year grant that is renewable for another five years!

What Happens To Us If TYC Is Not Funded?
What Happens To Us If TYC Is Not Funded?
Dr. D Said Failure Is Not Final!
Dr. D Said Failure Is Not Final!
Ain't No Stopping Us Now!
Ain't No Stopping Us Now!

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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
$35,683 raised of $50,000 goal
 
539 donations
$14,317 to go
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