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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
The Youth Connection
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
It's All Youth Led!

Links:

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
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!

Links:

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
Ain't No Stopping Us Now!

Links:

Let
Let's Hear It For Our Girls!

The last days of summer are fast approaching and every effort is being made to support and positively impact our youth as we continue to connect them to brighter futures. Sometimes many of you who give may not realize what an impact you truly have. I am always delighted to share with you the stories that may take your breath away. When my staff shared Za’Maria’s story we all had to pause and look away and be ever so thankful that we were able to make a difference. Za’Maria participated in our food and nutrition program, the I2D2 Fit ‘N Fun Family Club. This is a program that we provide in many of our schools. Every time staff would arrive at her school she was there to open the door and display the biggest brightest smile that would melt your heart. She learned all of the nutrition facts and would pop her hand up to answer all of the questions. She participated in all of the physical activities and at the end of the program she had amassed the greatest number of participation points that allowed her to walk away with the top incentive… a two wheel bike! When she came to the office to pick up her bike she was wearing a pair of fur lined boots on a 90 degree day. We were told that was all she had. Staff immediately went into action and pulled new shoes and other resources the family needed from donations and supplies we were able to obtain because of generous supporters like you!

You wouldn’t know that Za’Maria has a nurse that sometimes shadows her during the school day and helps the family. The family enrolled in our strengthening families program and already they appear to be bolstered by the attention and activities.

Youth everywhere look forward to summer and school being out! But the facts regarding summer learning loss are staggering. Two-thirds of the income based achievement gap is attributed to summer learning loss by the start of high school. Most young children experience learning loss when they do not participate in educational activities during the summer! Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer… some children gain weight faster when they are out of school during summer break! Well, not on our watch. Our programs continue all summer and we make every effort to see to it that our youth experience a summer full of learning opportunities and are able to share stores when they return to school that will amaze their friends. Your support is helping us distribute over 1,000 beautiful hard cover books to youth to read over the summer.

When potential partners view our web site and see we are vetted through global giving more doors and opportunities open up to us. Because of you we will distribute free schools supplies, shoes and socks at our After School Back to School Off to College Fair this summer.

To help address the summer learning loss we sent youth to Spring Arbor University’s CEO Academy to learn how to become entrepreneurs. They participated with youth across southeastern Michigan and had to compete on teams to come up with innovative marketable ideas. Let’s hear it for our girls, Tayler and Tiara, who were on the winning team and shared in a $1,000 award. Because of you we were able to rent a van to get them to the spring arbor campus every day for a week!

This summer we are taking over 1,000 urban youth kayaking on the Huron River. As part of that experience youth will learn about the war of 1812 in a creative and interactive way through our partnership with the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. More than 200 youth enrolled in our summer youth employment program will learn about environmental stewardship, invasive species, trail maintenance, and water quality testing. Many of our youth will have fun this summer kayaking, canoeing, hiking, camping and zip lining.

Your support helps us purchase healthy snacks, water, special equipment and supplies. Because of you we are able to provide interview outfits and shoes so our youth can make that knock out first impression as they apply for their summer jobs. 

The summer is only half way over and I have to give high fives to my staff who continue to provide high quality programming and go above and beyond the call of duty. Their tenacity to attempt the impossible and argue persuasively why we should even consider taking over 50 youth clear across the state (over a five hour drive) to camp in one of our state parks and complete a service project. Their argument…… because they will be able to see the Mackinac bridge and ride a ferry to Mackinac island a trip of a lifetime for any Michigander!

Thanks to all of our Global Giving 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 Global Giving Connecting Youth to Brighter Futures Project. Encourage your friends and families to reach out as well. Just an FYI – Global Giving’s International Youth Week Matching Campaign that celebrate our youth is August 7th -12th please remember us. It is mind boggling what they are offering, 100% matches, bonus prizes and more. Please help make us one of the top projects through your giving.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! To all of our supporters and those who have yet to give please remember The Youth Connection as we continue to connect Detroit youth to brighter futures.

The Smile That Melts Your Heart.
The Smile That Melts Your Heart.
Water Quality Testing.
Water Quality Testing.
A Ticket To Float On The Huron River.
A Ticket To Float On The Huron River.
Trail Maintenace & Invasive Species Removal.
Trail Maintenace & Invasive Species Removal.
Against All Odds...Our Kids Shine!
Against All Odds...Our Kids Shine!

Links:

And The Winners Are... Our Youth!
And The Winners Are... Our Youth!

What a thrill and a blessing to be able to tell our story to more people who believe enough in us to support our efforts. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I am excited to write this report to let you know how your contributions are making a difference. Your contributions allowed us to implement a new component to our substance abuse prevention program that touched over 125 middle school youth. We added the TYC Academy Awards to recognize our best-performing students that participated in our Substance Abuse Prevention Life Skills training program. The return on your investment in us was amazing! Students were encouraged to write poems, perform raps and creatively share what the ongoing lessons meant to them. Violence, poverty and substance abuse are forever present in the lives of some of the youth we serve. Their ability to share their concerns and master how to deal with their own decisions have really made a positive difference.

In her own words eighth grader K. Williams wrote:

I woke up this morning and had to make a decision,
I had to make a wise decision to envision my future.
Cause where I’m from… a man will rob you and shoot you,
My dad got mad fought with my brother.
I had to make a wise decision,
To apologize and tell ‘em I love ‘em.
Life is short and families small,
So I decided to better myself for them all.
Prayers go up and blessings come down,
And will fall down on me like beads from a misty waterfall.

The opportunity for our youth to share their fears and concerns sharpened our focus and determination to make a difference. Eighth grader D. Cooper wrote:

The decisions I make,
With every breath I take,
Decides should I live another day.
It’s all about the decisions you make,
So make the best ones.
Live for you, laugh for you, love for you,
Be you, be you.

The Academy Awards component we added allowed youth to accrue points for writing about what they learned and additional points for performing or reading their work. Youth led cheers and performed their raps. Even more amazing – they reported to our staff when they made good and bad decisions and understood the consequences of their own behavior. The program was implemented with the donations we received that paid for the final awards, the Academy Awards Ceremony held in the school, and an ornate hard cover book, “Inspired by Prevention 2017” that included all of their work. The outcome data showed that the overall program made a significant impact.

First place winners from each class received $150 online shopping sprees.

Our second place winners from each class received mountain bikes donated by Aberdeen Bike and Outdoors, a local Michigan bike shop located in Chelsea, MI.

Our Third place winners from each class received $50 online shopping sprees.

Our fourth place winners from each class received $25 online shopping sprees.

The ceremony was awe inspiring. When the winners were announced they received loud ovations from their fellow classmates, teachers and Principal Harry Coakley.  

We received a thank you letter from one of the teachers. Ms. McGuire wrote:

From the students of Rooms 8-302; 8-301 and 8-305 - Thank You.
Dear Ms. Mitchell and Mr. Fred, Thank you for blessing my students with the information they need in order to make better decisions in life. Your heart is amazing and I thank you both for the work you do.

The Principal has asked us to return next year and ordered the “Inspired by Prevention Book 2017” for each of the students whose work appeared in the book!

Because of you and the donations you have generously given, the winners are…..Our youth!

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 Global Giving Connecting Detroit Youth to Brighter Futures Project. Encourage your friends and families to reach out as well. Just an FYI – July 12, 2017, is a bonus day through Global Giving and your contribution has a chance of being matched, so sign up early and often.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! To all of our supporters and those who have and those who will continue to support our efforts to connect Detroit youth to brighter futures.

I Had To Make A Wise Decision...
I Had To Make A Wise Decision...
Online Shopping Sprees!
Online Shopping Sprees!
Inspired by Prevention 2017
Inspired by Prevention 2017
I Am So Proud of My Daughter!
I Am So Proud of My Daughter!
Be You!
Be You!

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
$33,913 raised of $50,000 goal
 
496 donations
$16,087 to go
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