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Our work during 2012 demonstrates the enduring commitment of our many supporters. Through the public’s support, and the expertise of our staff and volunteers, Sasha Bruce Youthwork continues to offer a broad spectrum of programs that meet youths’ multiple needs.
Our Residential Programs provided safe housing for more than 300 youth last year from several distinct populations; and our Community Services Programs offered families practical support to weather crises during street- and venue-based outreach, and through academic support, parenting education, intensive case management and health education at our various locations.
Programs which opened in 2011 continued strongly this past year. One is our Youth-Led Community Learning Center which has been designed to remedy the myriad risk factors of high school aged youth living in the geographic catchment of Ballou Senior High School. This youth-driven, after-school program is firmly embedded at Ballou and has been complemented by our federally-funded, evidence-based Teen Outreach Program (TOP). The purpose of this latter project is to demonstrate the effectiveness of replicating TOP in reducing rates of teen pregnancy and births concurrent to offering community service and civic engagement opportunities in students’ neighborhoods. A first year of strategic planning and community capacity-building has been completed, and our TOP Program is now an elective course at the school, and has been terrifically popular so far this year. Given the rigid structure of classes/curricula at DCPS, this integration of TOP into the academic offerings at this large public high school is a noteworthy achievement. A third program initiated recently is a Transitional Living Program for young families exiting city shelters. This came about during the summer of 2011 through our success in a competitive grant application to the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness. Since the award, we’ve been at full capacity offering 10 homeless families (in which the head of household is 24 years old or younger) intensive case management, life skills education, parenting education and other proven supports towards the goal of self-sufficiency and graduation to permanent, independent housing. Finally, our Richardson Youth Center, a drop-in family support program for residents of a Ward 7 public housing project, has been very well received by all stakeholders.
As for new initiatives in 2012, we’ve been particularly successful this past year with our workforce development programming, a new shelter in Prince George’s County, and, of course, our fabulous Re*Generation House in Marshall Heights.
We are happy to report the success of our extremely competitive DOL application this past Summer which will allow us to continue—and enhance—educational remediation and job training/placement work for at least the next three years.
Over the past few years it has become increasingly evident that young people with the most severe risk factors live not only in east-side Wards of the District. Indeed, indicators of crime, homelessness, violence and educational challenges increasingly point to nearby communities in “Ward 9” – Prince George’s County. So this past Summer, we submitted an application to federal Health and Human Services (HHS) to initiate a new shelter in Prince George’s County in partnership with the County’s Department of Social Services. Our proposal reflected our strong history as a comprehensive homeless youth shelter provider at the Sasha Bruce House in Ward 6. Happy to report that our application was successful, and in the coming months we will be launching this new youth shelter at a facility offered at no cost by PG County’s Department of Social Services. We’ll be sure to keep everyone up-to-date through this website regarding this new venture outside of DC proper.
Despite the negative impact of the continued recession on our clients, this past year has been our agency’s most successful ever in terms of engaging the private sector to help us build a new home for homeless youth in DC’s Marshall Heights neighborhood. Several incredible events during the past 8 months have been significant milestones including a well-publicized “blitz build” event and engagement of dozens of discounted or free expert building trades labor and architectural services such that this new transitional living facility was completed last month, and now houses 8 formerly homeless youth. Noteworthy private sector funding partnerships for our capital project included Virgin Mobile USA (for whom the facility is named), the Freddie Mac Foundation, Philip Graham Foundation and Prince Charitable Trust. Several of our board members and long-time supporters also stepped-up to make truly remarkable contributions to this “gut renovation.” This new home includes a state-of-the-art greenhouse and plans for a “green” entrepreneurial project for youth and community members.
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