East End Community Services has focused on youth caught in a cycle of generational poverty from its beginning over 16 years ago. Since that humble start, the organization has grown and evolved with contracts and funding to address an even wider range of community needs that we believe still ultimately influence the quality of life and education of the neighborhood’s young people. One of the many programs that has been offered is the evening YOUth Center. This program represented a form of youth development that assumed youth were safe by providing a recreation opportunity in the evening to get at risk youth “off the streets.” This strategy has been proven in the research to be the least effective strategy for both the youth and the neighborhood.
This year, with funding from the Department of Justice Byrne Criminal Justice Innovative grant (BCJI), we are taking the evening YOUth Center in a new direction. Using evidenced based strategies and research from the Search Institute, we are now evaluating our youth for the 40 Developmental Assets needed to break the cycle of poverty and be successful in life. Recently, 44 youth took their first pre-test survey and the results are clear: OUR YOUTH NEED YOUR HELP!
The Developmental Assets are both internal and external and fall within five categories: personal, social, family, school, and community. Only 10% of our young people are considered thriving. The majority of our YOUth Center members are in the vulnerable or challenged category. Staff will certainly dive into the data and the results and begin crafti
ng a plan to improve this picture but we need your help because youth staff can’t do it alone.
Examples of the statements from our youth include:
I have a safe neighborhood—64% responded with Not at all or Somewhat/Sometimes.
I have good neighbors who care about me—68% responded Not at all or Somewhat/Sometimes.
I have neighbors who watch out for me—46 % responded Not at all or Somewhat/Sometimes.
A few responses were positive and encouraging:
I have parent(s) who try to help me succeed—59% responded Extremely/Almost always.
I accept people who are different from me—60% responded Extremely/Almost always.
I stay away from tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs—61% responded Extremely/Almost always
Stay tuned for more details and results from our new effort to measure and engage our youth in new programming, community service and activities. We will share with you tips and suggestions for how the community and neighborhood can support the Youth Success Zone by helping our youth develop critical assets.