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

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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

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Meet Jalonnie
Meet Jalonnie

Happy New Year!

The Youth Connection would like to thank all of our supporters who contributed to our GlobalGiving Campaign Project during the December Open Challenge. Wow - what a way to end the year! Because of you we met the threshold to become a permanent partner with GlobalGiving and we made Leader Status! Not only does this give us an opportunity to continue to receive support through GlobalGiving, it expands our ability to tell our story. December’s efforts were amazing. A special shout out to Emmy award-winning recording artist, Randy Scott, who did a live YouTube performance to support us.  Click the link and enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVCxaslzcio.

The best way to say thank you is to hear it from one of the youth we serve. Meet Jalonnie – one of the youth we are helping connect to a brighter future. He wanted to share his story with you and thank all of the supporters of The Youth Connection.

Jalonnie's Story

“The Youth Connection is helping to lead me to a great future…a great, successful future. I have wanted to go back to school and finish my high school diploma. Before I came to The Youth Connection, I would…what’s the word?... Procrastinate…yeah, that’s it. If I wasn’t here I’d be at home sleep, still sitting around saying I want to get back in school. They helped me get in school…(they) stayed on my back. They are my support system. They are a strong support system and without The Youth Connection I would have given up. This is bettering me and I don’t want to deny something that is bettering me. Now I want to push myself and stay with my support system. I know whenever I need anything I can go to Ms. Littles, Ms. LaTonya, Ms. Hill, Mr. and Mrs. Castro (TYC Staff) all of them and I feel comfortable asking them for help.

They took me to The Glory of Christmas Concert. Something different I’ve never seen before. It was Godly. Something I would have seen on TV but would never have imagined seeing it in person. Never think of seeing real animals inside a church. It was real spiritual and I was already close to God and everything but it made me think more and be even closer. I get to do things I never dreamed I’d do.

I call this a never give up program cause I was kinda of close to giving up but they wouldn’t let me. I am so glad…it is a blessing to be here. I know I miss coming sometimes but a couple of weeks ago I texted Ms. Hill and asked her to please never give up on me. She said they wouldn’t! Yesterday I completed and passed my first online class! It was really cool until the staff starting dancing the Whip and Naenae in the hallway. I would like to be a mentor and tell some of my friends what I am going through and be supportive like The Youth Connection is supportive of me. Yeah…I can bring them here too. I  want to thank everyone who supports The Youth Connection.”

Academic Development Program

Many of our youth (including Jalonnie) live in an underserved, resource poor area of urban Detroit. A number of our youth have dropped out of school or are faltering in a struggling school system. One aspect of our services is our Academic Development Program where retired special education administrators work with us to increase reading and math proficiency, expand vocabulary and provide tutorial support to assure our youth pass and even excel in school. They are passionate advocates for assuring our youth who are in school are placed in the most appropriate educational program that will meet their needs. They also work with  our students who want to go on to college by helping them complete applications and write their college essays.

The Youth Connection uses data to document our outcomes and show our funders and supporters that there is a demonstrable return on their investment. The Youth Connection Career Academies hosted over 140 youth who participated in our 2015 summer youth employment program. All of these youth were engaged in our Academic Development program where 93% of them improved their reading and/or math scores by at least one grade level.

Additionally, the ADP staff distributed over 2,000 new books to our students and to youth who attended our After School-Back to School-Off to College fair. For fourteen years, The Youth Connection has been producing our AfterSchool Fair, a free community event designed to get kids excited about participating in afterschool programs and get them ready to go back to school by providing them with school supplies, health information and other resources. The Fair has been responsible for filling tens of thousands of afterschool openings across the city.

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.

Jalonnie and Academic Development Coach
Jalonnie and Academic Development Coach
Jalonnie and TYCCA Director
Jalonnie and TYCCA Director
TYCCA Skill Building Session
TYCCA Skill Building Session
After School Fair Book Giveaway
After School Fair Book Giveaway
After School Fair Book Station
After School Fair Book Station

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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
$36,303 raised of $50,000 goal
 
555 donations
$13,697 to go
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