Field Report: Springtime Musings

April always seems like one of the busiest months in New Orleans, at least for me.  It’s when crawfish boil season starts up in earnest and when some of city’s best festivals take place, namely Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest,  not to mention the lesser known but  just as awesome Ponchatoula Strawberry Fest and Freret Street Festival.  Then there’s Easter, and of course, my birthday!

Due to this crazy month, I’ve decided to forego a traditional post and instead just list a few things I’ve learned from my service year so far.

  • My work projects have been more DIY than I had anticipated.  I know this is true for other VISTAS as well, though possibly not all.  If I wanted to do something, I had to create the space to implement it myself (like the research workshop I helped plan).  By the same token, if I didn’t take the initiative to pursue a project, it likely didn’t get done. There often weren’t any consequences; it simply just didn’t happen.  Sometimes this was fine and other times…maybe less so.

    From the Design Thinking workshop I helped plan earlier this year.

    From the Design Thinking workshop I helped plan earlier this year.

  • You might learn more from a challenging service year than one that’s sunshine and rainbows everyday.
  • Small, struggling nonprofits can be stressful places to work.  Even if it seems like there’s always a fire that needs to be put out, it’s vital to take the time to appreciate your staff and volunteers.  

  • On that token, to be effective in managing volunteers, you need to understand everyone’s motivation.  Are they there because they believe in The Cause with every fiber of their being? It’s best not to make assumptions.

  • Speaking of the challenges of working in a very small organization: two heads are better than one, and quite often, the more heads, the better.  With only a few decision makers, consensus is arrived at more easily, but this might not be such a good thing.  Not every idea you have will be a gem and you need to have people around you that will tell you so.

    The dangers of Groupthink

    The dangers of Groupthink

  • If you allow your programming to follow the money, you not only risk mission creep but also risk trapping your organization in a box that will be difficult to evolve out of once the money changes directions.  Changing the direction of your programming to fit the funding that’s currently available  is short-sighted.

  • That’s why I’m a fan of social entrepreneurship.  This strategy for addressing social problems largely stems from the inefficiency of grant-funding and general nonprofit fundraising.  Social entrepreneurship seeks to do social good by capitalizing on market demand.  “Non-profit” doesn’t automatically equal “altruistic and effective” and “for-profit” doesn’t always mean “corporate greed.”  Socially conscious for-profits have the potential to be self-sustaining AND do good.


So, do with these what you will, and happy festival-ing!

Field Report: A’s & Aces

A's&Aces-Auction

The month of March has been a hectic month for A’s & Aces. There were so many events and programs going on, there was not much time to sort attendance data. March is when the 2014 Summer Camp application is finally drafted and finalized by New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC). Although the application was scheduled to come out on the first of the month, we did not receive it until two weeks in. During the whole month, there have been a slew of telephone calls from parents that want to have their children participate in our summer camp program. During the first two weeks, when we did not have an application, I was getting around 10 phone calls a day asking about registration. Without an application to point to, I guided most of them to our website and asked them to sign up for our newsletter, since we would be posting the application there. After the applications came out, there were piles of applications waiting for me at the office at the end of the day, waiting to be processed.

While all the madness with our summer camp was unfolding, we were in the midst of preparing to test our new fundraiser that we’ve ever done.  In the fall, two of our board members voiced the idea of having a small fundraiser in the spring. They suggested hosting a party with a silent auction. So for the month of March, A’s & Aces was particularly busy with acquiring auction items for the wine and cheese party that we hosted on March 21st. Although I was able to attend this event, I wasn’t really able to mingle with any of our potential donors since I had to sign people in at the door. Between handing out name tags and programs, I was able to sneak in a few sandwiches and cubes of cheese. All in all, it was a very successful event with over 80 guests. With this experience, we definitely need some fine tuning for next year.A's&Aces-Auction

Toward the end of the month, I was pretty occupied with NORDC partnership obligations. March 29th was NORDC’s Summer Camp Expo that they advertise to the public about the subsidized summer camp opportunities available. I was also able to attend a press conference with the Mayor thanking the NORDC partners for their work this summer. A's&Aces-PressConference

Field Report – “And the word is…” LFCL Tom Zolot

As we all know, sometimes it’s hard to stay focused.  This for some reason is equally true if you are successful or struggling.  It is true for individual people and most definitely true for companies or business and yes, true too for charities and non-profits.  There exists a term in the non-profit world called ‘mission creep’.

Creeper

Creeper

Creeping refers to a process of spreading, slowing but surely.  When it comes to non-profit strategy and thinking, ‘mission creep’ refers more directly to the process of accumulating new and wonderful projects that don’t exactly fit the original goals or mission.  This is usually the result of either a) overambitious staff finding new and almost valid new projects or b) there existing funding for almost the same mission as the original one.  “We’ll qualify if we just do a few new projects…”  These are the dreaded words which signal, MISSION CREEP!!

Mission creep isn’t always a death sentence, sometimes it’s not even a problem.  Sure marketing might need to change and the elevator speech gets a few more commas but sometimes it’s totally valid to change, add or grow.  What confuddles me personally is how organizations grow without creeping.  In a time when closures of programs almost only are seen as failures (wiping out diseases seem to be the only exception), then how do we change and grow without becoming ‘creepers’?

The Cooperative has changed its focus since its inception as the city and its immigrant populations’ needs changed.  I have tried to refer to this process and differentiate it from ‘mission creep’ and I was struggling for a time with how to name it.  Today, now I feel like I have the right term: maturity.

In a time of light speed tech upgrades and revolving doors of messages and images, non-profits seem to be accused of either failure (closing programs) or mission creep (expanding).  What is difficult is to grow in a reasonable manner that matches the needs of its participants (maturing).  I think the key to that delicate balance of being an organization that is maturing is to be cautious but also generous.  We, as non-profits, need to listen and survey needs constantly and know that the needs of our populations are changing and maturing too.

New Orleans in general is in a time of great change and has been since August 31st 2005, maybe ever since Mr. Bienville decided that a field of palmettos and cypress could be cleared to make a little town.  The Cooperative as well has had to mature.  The needs of immigrants and all people can only be met if our organizations listen, keep listening and keep maturing.

Field ripe for French colonization

Field ripe for French colonization

Field Report: Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools

This past weekend, Rethink held its annual retreat at Tickfaw State Park to discuss the goals and focus of our 2014 Summer Program. I’m not the best person when it comes to interacting with youth–although, ironically, I work with an organization with serving youth as its main focus. You can only imagine my reaction when I found out I was spending the weekend with twenty students ranging from 10-18 in a cabin.

The lovely cabin in the woods

The lovely cabin in the woods

Quite frankly, I was dreading it and spent the entire week stressing about how I was going to cope with the lack of personal “me time” and how to maintain the constant stream of energy and enthusiasm that is so often expected when working with youth. I think my saving grace came when my supervisor asked me to be the co-chef with her. For those that know me well, they know that I am absolutely obsessed with food and that I love cooking. Putting together shopping lists, taking inventory of ingredients in the office, and organizing are all things that I do well and in a way, it was calming.

Saturday breakfast prep!

Saturday breakfast prep!

I’ve learned that I like having order and control over moments in my life, which also explains the hard time I have when working with kids–you never know what situation might come up and a lot of improvisation is involved. Prepping and cooking food for the retreat turned out to be a great way to bond with my supervisor and allowed me ample time to interact with Rethinkers on my own time. I hung out with Ny’Keisha, a Rethinker I attended TEDYouth with a while back, and saw many more familiar faces from the 2013 Summer Program from when I started my VISTA year.

"Let's take a selfie."-Ny'Kiesha

“Let’s take a selfie.”-Ny’Kiesha

As a working staff member of Rethink, I’d always felt disconnected from the youth and labeled myself as an “adult” in their world. While serving dinner on Saturday night, I was called “ma’am” by one of the younger Rethinkers and wouldn’t have given it a second thought if it weren’t for another Rethinker, Arieanna, who then scolded the younger one and said, “Wendy is young! She’s our age, you don’t call her ma’am.”

At the time, I wasn’t sure how I felt. My initial reaction was to be happy that I seemed young (because you never want to seem old, right?) and I felt a weird camaraderie with Arieanna in that she was defending my “youthfulness”. Now that I have time to reflect on that moment, I wonder how effective I would have been if I were in the role of working directly working with the youth.

I imagine that it would be much more difficult for anyone to get anything done since I’d be seen as a peer versus someone with authority. I’m thinking back to how Rethink’s high school interns were treated during our 2013 Summer Program. The majority of them complained about a lack of respect and not being taken seriously during group gatherings.

This reflection also gave me a pretty good response to complaints in my February post about my dissatisfaction with not being able to directly work with the Rethinkers. I haven’t given too much thought to my age in the work world and it’s only now that I realize being young isn’t necessarily a great thing. Sure, I’m getting a head start on my peers, but I think in most work places, there is an assumption that the younger you are, the more inexperienced you are and respect is much harder to earn.

Anyways, bringing it back to Rethink, it’s crazy to think that when I first started with them, I was 19 and our oldest Rethinkers were 18. It’s something that I’m still trying to wrap my mind around.

Oh, and we’ve settled on the 2014 Summer Program’s theme: Freedom. So many ideas revolve around this word and I’m excited to see where the Rethinkers will take it this summer.

The power of the circle.

The circle is at the heart of everything Rethink does.

Field Report: CBNO

Jack-Duffy_headshot

Jack Duffy serves as the VISTA for the Committee for a Better New Orleans (CBNO).

There aren’t many months that shape up nicely into digestible, we-made-this-much-progress reporting periods. This past month is a poster child for difficult relationship. With Mardi Gras, the honest-to-God arrival of spring, daylight savings, jury duties, ribbons cut, and good-bye receptions all falling in the last three weeks, there has been a constant churn of errands and eras starting and ending. Work has continued, certainly, but it’s hard to think back across all the years that have passed since last February to tell you, ‘we made this much progress.’

In the past few weeks, I have returned to working on our neighborhood mapping project, focusing on the neighborhoods surveyed in the Lakeview area. The most recent focus of this effort has been to reconcile the self-reported neighborhood association boundaries that the Office of Neighborhood Engagement and City Planning Commission released in January and the neighborhood boundaries CBNO surveyed last spring. There aren’t many neighborhoods in Planning District 5, but there are enough overlaps between self-reported boundaries and discrepancies with officially designated neighborhoods to guarantee that untangling the lines that are present in Planning District 5 won’t be straightforward.

Parts of PD3, PD 4, and PD5

Obvious what’s going on here, right?

At the time of writing this, I have heard from most of the neighborhood association presidents who represent areas with problematic boundaries (to have heard back across the board would have ruined the premise of this post). I’m curious to see what will come out of this.

The factors that have helped these little boundary gaps and overlaps bubble up area as varied as the (possible) existence of a resident-funded security district, vestiges of NIMBY-ism, collapses of old neighborhood associations, and vacuums where organized neighborhood associations never were. Neighborhood identification is more subjective and more political than I originally thought it would be–it may even be impossible, as a result—but puzzling it all out is a lot more intriguing than I thought it would be, too.

Field Report: Cowen Institute – Riding in Rex for Mardi Gras!

I'm a Chicagoan but wow, was I cold! So was the random Louisianan to the left.

I’m a Chicagoan but wow, was I cold! So was the random Louisianan to the left.

So there I was, scooping out beads smelling like rodent dung from a trash bag  that had been excavated from under someone’s house. Rain poured down. I was so numb from the 35-degree weather that my hands felt like unwieldy paws and I looked like a babushka wearing three coats, a garishly bright orange hat, and a shawl. The crowd roared as the float rolled by and I flung the beads.

Despite it all, I’ll never forget it. I was in a Mardi Gras parade – I was in Rex! How more New Orleans can it get?

The Krewe of Rex is one of the oldest groups that throws parades during the Mardi Gras season, dating back to 1872. Each year, a member of the secretive organization is chosen as “Rex” and reigns as King of Carnival. While many parades happen during Mardi Gras week and the month before, this krewe actually parades on Mardi Gras day itself and is a centerpiece of the festival.

"Rex" is always a New Orleans civic leader. This year, he was Jack Laborde, a businessman in (of course) oil and gas.

“Rex” is always a New Orleans civic leader. This year, he was Jack Laborde, a businessman in (of course) oil and gas. Poor man must’ve been freezing.

My participation, along with a few friends, came about as most things do in this town: I knew someone who knew someone. A former VISTA named Courtni worked for Evacuteer.org, which partnered with the New Orleans Fire Department to create a float for the Rex parade.

Evacuteer.org trains volunteers in preparation for a potential city-assisted evacuation. If the City of New Orleans calls for an evacuation, Evacuteer.org will pick you up at 17 spots around the city designated by a silver statue of a person with their arm outstretched. For there, you will be bused or flown out all for free. They’ll even take your pets. Even if it’s a horse! Over a few weekends, we painted thick wooden boards and decorated the float.

The replica of a pick-up spot statue eventually garnered some beads himself!

The replica of a pick-up spot statue eventually garnered some beads himself!

Typically, people either are born into families that have membership in Mardi Gras krewes (such as Rex) or they pay to be in a krewe (such as the lit-up, celebrity-filled night parades like Orpheus or Bacchus.) Either way, as a rider, you usually spend at least several hundred dollars buying beads, stuffed animals, and all manner of trinkets. Not interested in paying for beads, I made plans for the obvious course of action: GO TO ALLLLL THE PARADES!

A float from Bacchus, which rolls on the Monday before Mardi Gras. It's a train belching out confetti pulling several "cars" of revelers. It's a wonder it manages to turn street corners!

A float from Orpheus, which rolls on the Monday before Mardi Gras. It’s a train belching out confetti pulling several “cars” of revelers. It’s a wonder it manages to turn street corners!

While Rex is the emblem of Mardi Gras, I have to say I enjoy the night time parades the most. This is my second Mardi Gras but it was no snooze to see it all again – the first time around you’re too busy jumping for beads to really enjoy the spectacular artistry and lighting of the floats! Oh, there’s the occasional teenage heartthrob.

Ian Somerhalder at Endymion's parade. One girl climbed onto her boyfriend's shoulders and when Ian kissed her hand, she burst into actual tears. What a well-behaved boyfriend.

Ian Somerhalder at Endymion’s parade. One girl climbed onto her boyfriend’s shoulders and when Ian kissed her hand, she burst into actual tears. Someone give that boyfriend a medal.

Alas, the party cannot last forever and the Lenten season is now upon us (or rather, for Catholics.) I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to see and participate in the quintessential New Orleans tradition of wearing ridiculous clothing and decking myself and others with glittery things!

Even the trees participate. Even the ones not on a parade route, like this one here in Jackson Square.

Even the trees participate. Even the ones not on a parade route, like this one here in Jackson Square.

Sometimes Things Do Fall Apart

As I write this month’s blog entry, I look out my living room window. It’s an overcast day. In a way it’s a perfect analogy of how I feel right now: when I began my term of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA in July 2012, the world and the months ahead of me seemed reminiscent of a sunny day, full of hope that I could believe in and that was powered by wonders yet to be discovered. In all sincerity, I was counting on my experiences at La Cooperativa to awaken within me the drive to fight for social justice for Latin American immigrants, a drive that had slowed down in the recent past. I did look forward to transforming the years of studying the last century’s revolutions in Latin Americans, the revolutionaries who gave up their lives seeking a better world for everyone, and the plight of the Latin American immigrant in the United States into a motivation to passionately write the best grant application, to fervently recruit the most dedicated volunteers and interns, and to genuinely devote myself to the programs and services that the La Cooperativa offered its members. But that did not happen. Storms, generated by greed and selfishness, have blocked the dreams I dreamt, just as today the clouds hide the sun in my beloved NOLA.

What's also beyond my grasp is this banner because a year after this photo was taken, I'm not still sure where it is.

How things change in just over a year…

As I near the end of my term of service with AmeriCorps, I find myself struggling to get by each day. Part of me still has hope that somehow La Cooperativa will make it through, that there is a way that we can continue operating. But, to be completely honest, most of the time I find myself regretting choosing the route I am on. I really do envy those who have found their term as an AmeriCorps VISTA to be inspirational and transforming. I would be lying to the world and to myself if I did not confess that more and more I stay up at night wondering what would have become of me if instead of applying for this position I had just applied to a PhD program in History or Political Science. By writing down these words, I do not seek the pity of others. I know full well that I consciously made the choice of committing myself to two years of service to La Cooperativa. But it angers me to think that my organization will have to close down in the coming months, yet none of the people who were responsible for its collapse will be punished. They will continue to live their lives and go on to make more mischief in this world, meanwhile more than a hundred of our members and their families will come to face a very unjust reality. For the past three or four years La Cooperativas has played a crucial role as an intermediary between the Latino community and the Department of Children & Family Services. A large percentage of our members can hardly read and write in Spanish, let alone form coherent sentences in English, and yet somehow they will be expected to understand the intricacies of an apathetic bureaucracy?

I am tired. I am especially tired that there is really nothing that I can do to ameliorate this situation. Right now, I can only watch my organization burn down and hope that from its ashes something new, something better will arise. It breaks my heart to think that we could have had a great opportunity with the new Board and Staff Members we have now, but none of us our millionaires nor do we have the resources to repair the organization. And so, we patiently wait for Judgment Day.

Field Report: Homer A. Plessy Community School

Peace Corps Volunteer

A badge a fellow RPCV sent me for Peace Corps Week this year.

February 23, 2014 to March 1, 2014 marked Peace Corps week this year. The past eight months working with the Tulane AmeriCorps VISTA program has given me an opportunity to see the whole of this great city, in a way I would not have been able to achieve previously. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV Lesotho 2009-2011) I thought I knew what I was getting into when I signed up to move to a completely new region of the US and dedicate one year of my life to service in education. What I could not prepare for was just how similar and different the two experiences were.  Before deciding to uproot my life and move, the furthest south I had ever traveled was South Carolina. Being from the great state of Rhode Island I thought that was “The South.” I have since been proven so wrong that I can’t help but laugh at my  own misconceptions.

My left inner wrist: a constant reminder of the two years that changed my outlook on life.

My left inner wrist: a constant reminder of the two years that changed my outlook on life.

One of the first things I had to learn after living in New Orleans and working in the Bywater community was how to understand the language. When living in Lesotho (Leh-Sue-Two) I had to learn Sesotho (Seh-Sue-Two). When living in New Orleans I had to learn a whole new vocabulary; What is a lagniappe? Who do you stay by? What school did you go to? What is actually in gumbo? Even the street names here conspire to get unwary visitors tongue-tied and confused. Though after six months, the language becomes second nature and I look for a new challenge and for me that challenge is food.

joala

Me Making Joala (homemade beer) for a funeral in my village of Thabang.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a picky eater, and this is true. It can all be explained easily enough, I like to cook and I’ve reached the point where I like to eat my cooking more than I like going out to eat. However, there are so many new dishes to learn how to cook here, that I have to try someone else’s recipe before I even attempt to cook it for myself. I love the adventure and the experimentation of it all.

Breakfast at Surrey's on Magazine St.

Breakfast at Surrey’s on Magazine St.

Last but not least, one of the most important factors in being a part of a service organization would have to be the friends one makes while serving. There is something intrinsically binding about being in a service organization with other like-minded individuals. The only people who truly understand your struggles and frustrations will always be the people who have gone through similar situations.

After living in the great city of New Orleans for eight months I have found that one year is definitely not enough time to fully appreciate what this city has to offer so I have decided to stick around for a little longer. New Orleans you’ve hooked another one in your net.jackson square

Field Report: Youth Rebuilding New Orleans

If you’re not a real New Orleanian until you’ve been spread out on the hood of a police car, I’m proud to report I’m finally a real New Orleanian!   I’ll let your imaginations run wild for now, but feel free to broach the topic next time you see me.  (And no, I wasn’t on a movie set, protesting or the least bit intoxicated at the time.)  Oh, what I wouldn’t give for visual evidence of the moment, decked out in my AmeriCorps VISTA T-shirt, getting the third degree.  #badboy #trynot2laugh

Anyway, that hasn’t been the only madness this month, known for its alternative spring breakers, among other things.  YRNO has had college groups from the University of Vermont, Texas A&M-Commerce, the University of Virginia, USC Upstate, Eastern Kentucky University, Princeton and New Mexico Tech volunteering with us, most filling up our bunkhouse.  I’ve loved scheduling them and it would be awesome if my AmeriCorps experience eventually led to a staff position as a volunteer coordinator at a New Orleans rebuilding organization! In the meantime, we’ve got more helping hands from UCLA and Elon University on the way.  Aside from building houses, we could build our own bracket.  March Madness, indeed!

In terms of bunkhouse payments and cash donations, having these groups and others has been very good for YRNO coffers.  Speaking of which, I recently began compiling a donor database so that we can (fingers crossed) establish a solid core of regular supporters. And as long as we’re talking finances, this week we officially received the $44,000 we were expecting from our winning Super Service Challenge videos. Suh-weet!

Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re not still applying for grants.  Our latest submissions were to the Entergy Charitable Foundation, Starbucks Foundation and BCM, and we have more to work on in the coming weeks.  For those who knew me in a past life, I’ve come to love grant writing as much as I enjoyed grading beat memos.  As I tell my YRNO colleagues, I need a win bad.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I miss writing about basketball though.  Not doing any this month in particular is super tough.  Memories of my old self became that much more real when I saw the 2013 Associated Press Sports Editors awards lists released with my name included.  Publishing YRNO’s quarterly e-mail newsletter and blogging with a March Madness theme will have to suffice, I guess.  The ultimate “side-gig guy” can’t have any as a VISTA!

YRNO has gotten more good press since my last field report, starting with a follow-up story by WWL-TV’s Bill Capo about the numerous donations we received after we were burglarized in January.  We were also named one of the 10 best family volunteer vacations by USA Today.  On another subject, I want to give a “shout out” to our spring semester intern Katie Morgan, a Tulane sophomore who’s been working on a historical web site photo project and sprucing up some of our outdated marketing materials. Good job, Katie!

An even heartier congratulations goes to Vincent Ilustre, who’s stepping down from his position as Executive Director of the Center for Public Service to assume the role of Senior Director for Regional Campaigns in the Office of External Relations and Development as of April 1st. We had a farewell party for him yesterday at the CPS offices with plenty of VISTA representation, giving me the opportunity to make my obligatory field report free food mention. Vincent’s a 1998 Tulane graduate, so it’s especially great to see young folks making waves. Way to go, big guy!

Lastly, it has been a weepy month for Saints faithful, with several fan favorites leaving the fold.  I had actually met three of them who were actively involved in community philanthropy—Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins and Lance Moore, who’s pictured at right with me and pal Jim Coningsby.  On the bright side, I attended my first New Orleans Mardi Gras parades—Endymion and Bacchus—and caught beads from Cameron Jordan at the latter.

WHO DAT!

A Sneak Peek at YouthShift

Emily Kamin serves at the Partnership for Youth Development.

Emily Kamin serves at the Partnership for Youth Development.

New Orleans is a city unlike any other. Any visitor – whether they’re here for a weekend; a service trip; or four years of college can attest to this fact. New Orleans is incomparable: its food, music, history. In what other city is there such a pervasive and encouraged sense of hedonism? In other words, that feeling of “anything goes” that intoxicates every visitor upon landing at MSY. However, New Orleans is also unparalleled in its challenges; especially those associated with its public education system. It sometimes feels like this “anything goes” mentality extends to New Orleans’ schools. Each and every school differs in their disciplinary and enrollment policies; services and supports available for students and parents; and unfortunately, in the quality of instruction. There is simply no centralized governing body for public schools.

The Cowen Institute’s State of Public Education in New Orleans: 2013 Report sums up the fundamental complication of the charter school system’s decentralization: “Nearly all the schools are autonomous decision-makers on key matters related to educating the young people who choose their schools” (3). As a Northerner who grew up attending a public school in a fairly simply-designed school system, at times this inconsistency feels unbelievable.

I recently attended a panel discussion that veered into a dialogue about New Orleans schools’ varying disciplinary policies. Audience members voiced dissatisfaction at the handling of mental health and behavioral issues that rather than being resolved, were grounds for suspension, expulsion or worse: a catapult into the juvenile justice system. It seemed like the resounding question for parents was: “Where do we go for help?” or for physicians, social workers, or counselors: “Where do we tell parents to go? If the school doesn’t offer these services (for mental health problems or otherwise), does that mean it doesn’t exist? Is there a list somewhere of what does exist?

None of these questions are new. The need for a “catalogue” of youth services and providers has been existent since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And in 2013, PYD decided to address this need by drafting a city-wide blueprint. This working document was originally referred to as the Youth Master Plan (YMP). But from the beginning, the purpose of this document was to do more than merely map out on paper what youth services were available to the public. As the backbone organization behind YMP, the Partnership wanted to align all of the different youth-serving entities in the city to harness the power of collective action.
youthshift2
PYD recently rebranded the Youth Master Plan as YouthShift, the name that will be used to refer to this effort moving forward. This is a name that more aptly reflects the fact that this effort lives both on and off paper. Yes, it will ultimately be a “catalogue” of youth services but more importantly, it will be an ongoing collaborative effort between youth serving systems. It will be a shared vision of what city leaders, non-profits, parents, residents (with input from youth themselves) want for the young people of the city and how we can get there, together. Ultimately, “YouthShift offers an opportunity to affirm a shared vision for the future, an assessment of current resources and needs, and a roadmap for moving forward in a way that ensures accountability and sustainability for effective youth serving system” (YouthShift Blueprint, 5).

youthSHIFTjpg-300x71

 

*You can access the YouthShift Blueprint on PYD’s website, http://www.nolayouth.org. Be sure to sign up for PYD’s newsletter for ongoing updates.