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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
20 Years Connecting Youth To Brighter Futures!
20 Years Connecting Youth To Brighter Futures!

We would like to thank all of our GlobalGiving donors for your support in 2016! What a blessing you have been to our kids and their families. We appreciate your donations and wanted to let you know how our programming has impacted the youth we served in the past year.

There are a lot of youth programs that talk about how many kids they serve and how many hours of work they do, but here at The Youth Connection we approach our youth development programs differently – with a keen eye on outcome data. It is one thing to say you served 116 kids this summer, but quite another to say that of the 116 kids in your summer job program, 93% completed an Employability Skills Training and 100% of those kids walked away with resume and cover-letter writing skills and at least three job interviews under their belts.

In addition, our I2D2 nutrition and exercise program has seen fantastic results in 2016 while educating our youth on the importance of proper nutrition and exercise. This program has been evaluated by Wayne State University School of Medicine Michigan Public Health Department and shown to produce statistically significant outcomes that make our children healthier.

Other Returns on Your Investment:

  • The youth who have graduated from The Youth Connection Career Academies (TYCCA) have been offered over $2 million dollars in college scholarships.
  • Over the last five years TYCCA youth have been accepted to over 41 colleges and Universities.
  • Over 80% of the youth who participate in our Academic Development program improve their reading scores one to two grade levels.
  • One hundred percent (100%) of youth expected to graduate high school did so on time and 100% of them enrolled in post-secondary or advanced training programs, the armed forces or entered employment.
  • One hundred percent (100%) of youth participants that started job certification training completed the training and earned the credential with at least 80% or higher on their certification exams.
  • Ninety-nine percent (99%) of the youth found the career development and work readiness training and experience they received valuable.
  • Ninety-eight percent (98%) of the parents felt the program helped their children develop life skills (i.e. financial literacy, etc.), work readiness/employability skills (i.e. resume writing, interviewing skills, etc.), and college preparation.

But the ultimate measures of our success as an agency are the kids who put in the work all through high school and college to forge a better future. We are extremely pleased to report that one of our youth who started our program during her sophomore year of high school is now on the verge of graduating Summa Cum Laude from Alcorn State University with a degree in Criminal Justice this May!

Margaret Scott joined The Youth Connection Career Academies (TYCCA) in 2011 and graduated high school in 2013 with a 4.0 GPA. Our program helped to shape her outlook on careers and college and, according to Margaret, was invaluable to her current success.

“I love everybody at The Youth Connection…I really do. You helped me get to where I am today. I’m going to graduate with my degree in Criminal Justice in May and then I’m coming home to work for the Detroit Police Department. While I am working, I will be attending Wayne State University law school on a full scholarship where I hope to graduate in three years with my law degree.”

“My internship with the 3rd Circuit Court last summer really showed me how all of the various courts (family court, civil court, etc.) operate and the mentorship I received from (TYC Board Member) Judge Ewell was invaluable in sharpening my career focus and learning how lawyers and judges in a real courtroom operate. I really can’t say enough how much I appreciate everything that The Youth Connection has taught me.”

We are very proud of Margaret and all of the hundreds of graduating students that our program has helped in the past few years. We would also like to thank our donors who have helped make Margaret’s dream a reality.

Thank you again for helping us connect our youth to brighter futures!  Your past support has meant the world to our students, and your future support will ensure that we help a lot more young men and women like Margaret in the years to come.

I
I'm Graduating With My Degree In Criminal Justice!
Our Nutrition and Exercise Program, I2D2.
Our Nutrition and Exercise Program, I2D2.
Our Substance Abuse Prevention Program.
Our Substance Abuse Prevention Program.
Mock Interview Sessions in the Career Academies.
Mock Interview Sessions in the Career Academies.

Links:

To The Dreamer Comes The Dream...
To The Dreamer Comes The Dream...

Many of our youth come to us without a dream of who they could potentially become. Many of us have been coached and had role models that constantly provided a vision of who we could be. Some of our youth have not had role models to emulate or have been told they would never amount to anything. They even think that life has nothing good to offer. The Youth Connection believes that every child should have a dream and the unalterable goal of becoming the best that they can be. We expose them to the possibilities, introduce them to new experiences, create opportunities, cajole, push, pull, nag, threaten, dare, believe, and provide them with role models who tell them that failure is not final and they can achieve anything they desire.

“This program has changed my ideas about the future; it makes me want to be the best I can be.”

- William S., Jr.

“This program has changed my idea of what future career I want!”

- Darius B.

Thanks to all of our Global Giving friends and family who continue to support our efforts and believe, as we do, that every kid should be able to fulfil his/her dream. Your contributions and thoughtfulness have made a difference in the lives of the youth that we touch. You help us overcome some of the challenges that many non-profits face when resources are restricted and limited. But it all pays off and the best barometer of our success is how the youth and families we touch let us know.

“Thank you for giving my son the opportunity to work. Through his summer worksite, he became a certified lifeguard and has now been hired by the YMCA as a lifeguard!”  

- Ms. Cassandra Burton, The Youth Connection Career Academies Parent.  

Ms. Louise Johnson, another TYCCA parent shared:

 “I really appreciate The Youth Connection, they have been a big inspiration to my son’s life. They have motivated my son in so many ways!”   

The results of that motivation you ask? On-time graduation from high school and a full ride scholarship to Madonna University! This from a kid who did not even have the dream of going to college!

As we end this year we proudly share with you that 100% of graduating seniors in our Career Academies enrolled into college. One hundred (100%) of youth previously enrolled in college returned to college after their summer internship with us!

 

We know for many of our youth dreams do come true. Samad, at 14 years of age, walked into the Detroit Fire Department Regional Training Center and declared that he wanted to be a Detroit firefighter and asked what he needed to do to become one. He was told to enroll in The Youth Connection Career Academies and we would help him reach his dream. Through our partnership with the Detroit Fire Department, Samad enrolled in our year-round career academies program and spent every summer as an intern with the Detroit Fire Department (DFD). Though our partnership with DFD and the City of Detroit Homeland Security, he received the TEEN Community Emergency Response Team training, obtained his firefighter 1 and 2 certifications, and participated in several mock disasters. Each summer he was given increasing responsibilities and served as a real role model for other youth participating in the internship.

He graduated from high school and enrolled in college majoring in (you guessed it…) Fire Suppression!  At age 18 he applied for the Detroit Fire Department but could not pass the physical agility test. Disappointed, but undaunted, he continued to pursue his passion and stayed connected with The Youth Connection. He was eventually hired part-time as a fire fighter for a neighboring city. But, he still wanted to be a Detroit Fire Fighter! He did not let his dream be deferred. We continue to partner with DFD and at our annual Chiefs Cooking for Kids fund raiser on October 6,2016, it was announced that Samad would be inducted into the incoming 2016 firefighters class and become a City of Detroit Fire Fighter! I have to admit it, all the staff cried! Samad is one of ours whose dream has come true. To be part of that, to share his joys and disappointments, to encourage him and help open doors for him, to believe in him and assure him that failure was not final is what we do.

The donations from Global Giving contribute to our ability to make dreams come true. It is amazing to see the emails notifying us that we have received a donation. What is more amazing are the donations from other states and countries from people we do not personally know but who believe in what we do and are helping us connect our youth to brighter futures. From the bottom of our hearts and on behalf of our kids… Thank you! Please continue to support our Global Giving project to make more dreams a reality!

The Detroit Fire Fighter.
The Detroit Fire Fighter.
I Have A Full Scholarship To Madonna University!
I Have A Full Scholarship To Madonna University!
Dreams Do Come True.
Dreams Do Come True.
I
I'm A Full-Time Employee At Detroit Marriott Hotel
Thanks TYC!
Thanks TYC!

Links:

Because Of You... We Get To Soar!
Because Of You... We Get To Soar!

The Youth Connection (TYC) would like to thank all of our supporters who contributed to our Global Giving campaign. Your contributions and support are indeed helping us connect our youth to brighter futures. The experiences they shared this summer were without a doubt eye opening and provided tremendous learning opportunities. Over ninety youth participated in The Youth Connection Career Academies (TYCCA) Summer Youth Employment Program. They learned job-readiness skills, created their resumes, cover and thank you letters clearly learning what is expected of them at their place of employment. They participated in mock interviews and received industry standard certifications. Based on their career goals our youth were placed with over 25 local partners for six weeks in paid summer internships. Your contributions supported youth who needed professional interview attire, and provided food and basic needs for several youth whom we discovered were homeless and we assisted in securing safe housing. Due to the training and support youth received from The Youth Connection, 11 of our youth were hired directly by their placements at the end of their internships.

YOU helped us provide needed supplies for 35 youth to go to Wilderness State Park where they not only experienced camping for the first time but built ADA accessible trails, constructed guard rails, performed trail maintenance and removed invasive species. Yes, they did have fun as well! They saw the impressive Mackinac Bridge for the first time, rode a ferry to Mackinac Island, and stood in wonder and swam in Lake Michigan. The support we received from Global Giving also allowed us to give away over 700 brand new books at our 15th Annual After-School/Back-to-School/Off to College Fair.

You can hear how your support has impacted the youth and parents who participate in our programs by listening to what they say. At the closing ceremony for our summer youth employment program our parents and our youth expressed their gratitude and heartfelt thanks to everyone who offered their support. Meet Mrs. Gardner, a parent of youth in our program: “I cannot tell you how excited I am about this program. My oldest daughter Kelsiana was in the program for two years and because of The Youth Connection Career Academies she is now working full-time at the Marriott Hotel which was her summer internship and is a full-time student at Wayne State University! This year I have two of my seven children enrolled with The Youth Connection,” said Mrs. Gardner her voice choking with emotion. “I love the way they teach them responsibility and accountability. They are experiencing a lot of things I would never have been able to take my kids to. They never would have gone camping or participated in many of the outdoor activities they were exposed to. My kids are shy and the staff helped them come out of their shell and stand up for themselves. NO other program I know that works with kids the way The Youth Connection does. I really trust them because this was the first time I have allowed my kids to be away from home without me and I thank God for this place because it has helped prepare them for life! I really want to thank Ms. Nicole, Mrs. LaTonya, Ms. Littles and Dr. Dudley and everyone that supports this agency to do the things they do. Trust me, I’d be their spokesperson anytime they ask me to!”

 

Jalen, one of our youth in TYCCA, shared, “I am currently enrolled as an intern with The Youth Connection. TYC placed me at the Habitat for Humanity Detroit ReStore this summer. Our job was basically moving furniture, collecting dropped off donations and working in the sun. Habitat for Humanity taught me many lessons and the major one I learned was patience. Customers took a lot of time and I mean a lot of time making up their minds and eventually would say ‘no, I’m good’ which is not satisfying, but over time I got used to it. I also got better with my time management. My manager was about 4’11’ but, I looked up to him for his knowledge and what he taught me. We occupied our time with tasks to keep everything in order and presentable for customers. I had a good time at Habitat for Humanity this summer. Thank you Youth Connection for this opportunity!”

Remember Mariah, from our last report? The one who said she had a voice and was bigger than she thought she was? Mariah did her internship at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Adventure Center and during the ceremony it was announced as a result of her performance during the internship she was offered a position! I guess you can see why she was chosen to receive our Rising Star Award!

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 a Brighter Future Project. Encourage your friends and families to reach out as well. Just an FYI – September 21, 2016 is a bonus day through Global Giving and your contribution has a chance of being matched, so sign in at 5:58 a.m. or 11:58 a.m. Eastern Standard Time!

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!

Trail Maintenance at Wilderness State Park.
Trail Maintenance at Wilderness State Park.
We Built It One Log At A Time!
We Built It One Log At A Time!
I
I'll Be The Spokesperson For TYC Anytime!
Jalen, Thanks For Your Support!
Jalen, Thanks For Your Support!
Together We Can!
Together We Can!

Links:

Meet Larontae!
Meet Larontae!

Please excuse our excitement as we send out yet another report on how your support is helping us connect youth to a brighter future. I can share with you that Wayne State University School of Medicine Family Practice MPH program completed an evaluation of our nutrition education program and showed the outcomes we are seeing for that program are proven to be statistically significant. I can tell you that 90% of the students who are in The Youth Connection Career Academies have demonstrated major academic improvement. Be all that as it may our uncontained excitement is focused on one youth – one young man we helped to connect to a brighter future!

Meet Larontae. Two years ago a 17 year old young man walked into our lobby after seeing a sign that said The Youth Connection. The Youth Connection Career Academies Director was in the lobby when he arrived and he asked her about the program. Sheepishly, he asked if he could volunteer with us. When asked why he wanted to volunteer he confessed that he was ordered by the courts to complete community service. He stated he did not live far from our office and if we would please help him. Of course we did. He had to rotate through every administrative staff in our office completing assignments from answering the phones to shredding thousands of pages of outdated documents. He came every day and we fell in love with his tenacity and commitment. We were recruiting for our summer employment program that he was eligible for but needed the permission of his parent or guardian to be enrolled. That was not forthcoming so we held a place for him and waited until he turned 18 and enrolled him. We had just launched our Ticket to Float program and recommended him to be one of four youth to be hired by the National Park Service River Raisin National Battlefield Park through their youth conservation corps over 45 miles away. He was terrified. He was uncomfortable being out of his element and surroundings and begged to stay at The Youth Connection for his summer internship. We said no!

Larontae learned to kayak on the Huron River, was certified in water rescue, CPR and First Aid. He was trained as an interpreter for the Ticket to Float program and helped design the curriculum. He presented to over 1,000 youth and their chaperones on the War of 1812, the fur trade, the use of silicone in the automotive industry and the history of the Wyandotte Indians of the Anderdon Nation. As a result of our work with him and his engagement in the program, he was featured on a Time Warner special regarding the program and water quality. What an amazing summer!

Near the end of his summer internship he had to return to court. The Judge was so impressed with how he spent his summer he received early release from his probation and was given accolades on his accomplishments. We worked with him to reach out to his brother in Maine who could provide him with more guidance and support. The challenge was to get him there. The money he earned over the summer allowed him to pay back his court ordered restitution and purchase a bus ticket to Maine. TYC staff surprised him at our office with luggage, a new winter coat, snacks to eat on the bus and a lot of love. Staff that did not make it to the office sendoff were at the bus station when he arrived and we all shared a tearful heartfelt goodbye. Larontae’s dream was to get his high school diploma. He had dropped out of school at 15 and never graduated. He said, “I don’t want a GED. I want to graduate with a diploma. I want to be somebody.” With his brother in Maine, he was able to return to school and maintained a part-time job.

Last week it came full circle. He did it! We called to check on him and he declared that day he was graduating from high school with his diploma! We kept our promise, we connected him to a brighter future. Four days after graduating, Larontae headed to Massachusetts to attend Job Corps for Electrical Engineering.

I Don
I Don't Want a GED.. I Want a High School Diploma!
Two Water Rescues So Far!
Two Water Rescues So Far!
I
I'm Here To Help!
A Dream Come True!
A Dream Come True!

Links:

Meet Mariah!
Meet Mariah!

First of all we want to thank all of our GlobalGiving supporters for your contributions and your support. You helped us to obtain Superstar Status with GlobalGiving. What a thrill and a blessing to be able to tell our story to more people who may 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. In our last report we shared with you Jalonnie’s story. He is doing great. He is on target to graduate this June if we can get him through his Spanish class (and we will.) He has a new job, a new suit, and a big smile. Helping our youth is what we do but we also require them to help others by giving back in a way that requires their time and energy.

I am sure many of you have heard about the plight of Flint, Michigan. Our youth who participate in The Youth Connection Career Academies (TYCCA) were really concerned about the kids in Flint and wanted to do something. They had heard about how thousands of bottles of water were being delivered to Flint for the families affected by the lead in their drinking water. Our youth did the homework and researched the needs and decided to spend a month collecting hand sanitizers, wipes, paper plates, plastic forks, spoons and knives, paper cups and water. We asked for and received help from our Partners including the Detroit Police Department who donated toys, games and helped transport over 20 of our youth from Detroit to Flint. New Covenant of Peace World Impact Ministries donated water. Molina Health Care donated hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizers and coordinated our efforts at the New Standard Academy Elementary School in Flint. Our youth distributed over 960 bottles of water, packed over 150 bags with the items collected, distributed over 100 books to students through TYC’s First Book program, and read stories to the elementary students in their class rooms and let them select from the hundreds of games and toys…but this story is best told by one of our youth who participated.

Meet Mariah…a quiet, unassuming leader who galvanized the youth to collect the items they needed and she herself collected the most from family, friends, and classmates. Mariah shared that she would hope if anything happened to the youth in Detroit others would show up and help us. She indicated how excited she was about giving back and felt it was her responsibility to do so. “It makes me feel great and because I’m so young I found I have a voice and I’m bigger than what I thought I was!” http://www.wnem.com/clip/12325370/detroit-area-students-deliver-bottled-water

Mariah has been one of our Youth Ambassadors in TYCCA since 2015. Her career aspiration is to become a Veterinarian. Soft spoken and reserved, we never know what will fire her up but it appears that giving back and helping others brings out the sparkle and the excitement.

Every weekend in April the youth have also participated in a neighborhood cleanup project with Lutheran Churches from the Southeast Synod, Lutheran Youth Services and Osborn Neighborhood Alliance. Spearheaded by one of our staff members, LaTonya Dolton, and Pastor Jack Eggleston, we selected a neighborhood area where many of our youth live. Together with 35 of our youth, family, friends, board members, and over 70 volunteers from the Lutheran Churches we cleaned up and weeded vacant lots, loaded hundreds of garbage bags, removed tires and trash that had been dumped in abandon yards, boarded up abandoned houses, and painted murals on the boards (see video here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SUdkKVYEKs )

Who among our youth was leading the charge? You got it – Mariah! Every Saturday, rain, cold and shine, Mariah was there pulling weeds, bagging trash and encouraging others to help. We are making a difference and the pride our kids feel when they are encouraged to give back is nothing short of amazing.

This summer our plans are to take 1,200 youth kayaking down the Huron River. The Youth Connection, in partnership with the National Park Service River Raisin National Battlefield Park, will transport 1,200 metro Detroit youth to kayaking, outdoor education, history and cultural through our 2016 Ticket to Float Youth Outdoor Kayak Explorer Program. Explorers will receive intense instruction on how to kayak and will learn about different recreational kayaks, and all things necessary for them to have a safe and rewarding trip on the Huron River. At just the right angle and water level from their kayaks, they may be able to view the original military log road that was commissioned in 1812 to connect Detroit and Ohio.

The Explorers will learn about the history of the area, the role the African American militia played during the War of 1812 and how they manned and fired the cannons. They will understand the science behind firing cannons and the team work necessary to be effective. Youth will engage in interactive games that were played during the 1800’s and participate in fur trading. They will learn about water quality and conservation by testing specific sites along the Huron River to determine its health. Explorers will be able to gather good and bad indicators of water quality and understand our rivers and lakes are living systems. They will examine the water from the Huron River searching for and identifying its microscopic inhabitants. They will see the vegetation that grew and currently grows along the river and determine what is edible and what was/is used for medicinal purposes.

Please log onto our Global giving site and support our Ticket to Float mini-project. Once again a tremendous thank you to all of our supporters and those who have and will support our efforts to connect Detroit youth to brighter futures.

TYC Youth Passing out Toys and Books in Flint.
TYC Youth Passing out Toys and Books in Flint.
TYC Youth and Staff in Flint.
TYC Youth and Staff in Flint.
A Thank You from The Head Start Students.
A Thank You from The Head Start Students.
Spending Saturday Giving Back
Spending Saturday Giving Back
TYC Youth Osborn Neighborhood Clean-Up
TYC Youth Osborn Neighborhood Clean-Up

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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