The Foundation’s 2009 Wilder Survey found that “65% of respondents expressed a concern that Youth were missing out on opportunities because of the current economic situation.” As a result, the Foundation identified Youth as one of its key areas of focus.
The initial goal was to provide support for youth who were missing “activity participation” due to the “current economy”. The initial focus was to search for gaps in the current programs offered; to strive to reach the disconnected; and to position the Foundation as a catalyst for change in these areas.
The first Youth Initiative Task Force was established. It reviewed the Kids First Asset Test and looked at the various athletic activities and non-sport activities provided within our community, as well as potential opportunity gaps in the programs being provided. The Task Force initiated a series of one on one interviews with major youth activity providers: the YMCA, the School District, the Parks and Recreation Dept., the Public Safety Dept., The Arts Connection, WAA and ERAA.
A round table of the participants was convened. The group felt that there was an opportunity to develop a collaborative effort to reach out to all the youth of our community. The group expanded from seven to twelve organizations that worked with youth in our community. A facilitator was hired by the Foundation and worked with the group over seven months to develop a strategic plan, identifiable goals and objectives, an organizational structure, and rules of governance.
The result was establishment of the Woodbury Youth Resource Connection (WYRC), an organization with a:
¨ Mission: To maximize youth access, without barriers to community resources and opportunities; and a
¨ Vision: To ensure Woodbury Youth programs provide quality afterschool, summer and year-round opportunities for all children and youth to successfully learn, develop and contribute.
Today, the WYRC consists of 17 members organizations. It has completed a youth survey of over 700 Woodbury Middle School students; compiled a master list of programs offered by WYRC members, and engaged a marketing intern who compiled survey results and developed a WYRC website with links to the partners.
Goals and objectives were developed and the WYRC continues to expand its “buy-in and commitment” from its key supporters, the City of Woodbury and the School District. The Foundation is one of the three Stakeholders and Executive Team members of the WYRC, and has been actively engaged in its ongoing governance.
Foundation Board members Tim Gunderson and Mike Barrett initiated the process that resulted in the WYRC. Today, new Board member Mike Cavaleri coordinates the Foundation’s role to further WYRC’s goals. Freshly retired from 3M, Mark’s passion for youth has been demonstrated through the years with the Lions and the “Y.” He’s supported by a strong team of Aaron Harper, Lee Vague, Michelle Witte & Richard Jenkins. Mark and his new team will be identifying other needs with partners and exploring options for related collaborations, e.g. with Youth Service Bureau.
The Foundation was instrumental in bringing the WYRC together and providing resources to bring it to the current level. The collaboration of the many organizations working with youth and facilitating their ownership of the “big issue” of out of school time (OST) brought clarity and focus on the concerns identified by the Wilder Survey.
The value of the Foundation’s “catalyst & convener” role was characterized by a comment by Bob Klatt, long-time Director of City Parks & Recreation. Upon completion of the WYRC strategic plan, he said, “I’ve been trying to make this happen in Woodbury for 20 years, and it took the Foundation to get it done.”
¨ Continued support of the efforts of the WYRC by the WCF is the first priority.
¨ Be prepared to proactively champion and provide resources for the various programs the WYRC develops and implements.
¨ Help identify and encourage the participation of other entities that could work within the framework of the WYRC.
¨ Continue to endorse and promote the WYRC focus of a collaborative effort to address the OST needs of youth within our community.
¨ Seek other opportunities for collaboration to meet the needs of youth outside the scope and direction of WYRC.
¨ Stay connected with the Jobs Initiative Team as they explore opportunities with School District 833 to connect the business community to address the “Skills Gap.”
¨ Revisit our Original Purpose, establish updated strategic objectives, action plans, budget, and measure impact.
The Youth Initiative has been a primary example that demonstrates the value of the Foundation’s “catalyst & convener” role in Woodbury. Sustaining and measuring the impact of the WYRC has great potential to leverage that strong beginning. With all the partners engaged and their constituencies, it’s an ideal opportunity to establish meaningful criteria for measuring real economic benefits.
For more information on getting involved with our Youth Initiative, please contact the Foundation office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-788-6586