Helping the "Truly Disadvantaged": How YAP is Helping to Pave New Opportunities for the Most Marginalized Youth and Families
In his striking Sunday NY Times Magazine Article (August 19, 2012), Paul Tough makes the case for youth and families living in extreme poverty in America, and that too many "truly disadvantaged" kids are being left behind. The article highlights one of YAP's school-based anti-violence programs, deeply rooted in Chicago's south and west sides where our staff, local experts in the community's assets and needs, work intensively with the City's most marginalized and impoverished youth and families.
The article brings attention to a critical issue- that many Americans still live in extreme poverty. It also poses a serious question- how can we alleviate the circumstances of people living in extreme poverty and what solutions work? Our Chicago program is one example of how intensive support from community members and investment by local or national government can help kids left behind by most programs, have a chance to capitalize on other opportunities.
What our staff did in the Chicago YAP Program, and what we do in 18 states with over 12,000 families across the country, is simple but essential: we sit down with families and kids in crisis, we engage communities, we ask families- what do you need, how can we help, how can wan work together as equal partners and finally, how can we give back to our communities? With a fully engaged Family Team comprised of YAP community advocates, family members and their supporters, we have been able to achieve phenomenal results for the families we work with. In YAP's Chicago Program discussed in the article, our community-based staff have served over 500 kids, all of whom were predicted to be 20x more likely to be shooters or victims of violence, yet over 94% were kept safe. 85% graduated from high school and of them, nearly 50% are off to college or trade school. In-school suspensions, misconducts and expulsions that traditionally lead to juvenile or criminal justice system involvement are down significantly. Our staff worked to get kids who would otherwise be unemployable into jobs at community businesses, that reflect their interests, with support of a YAP advocate, trained in job coaching.
Our experience shows that as communities, we can do something to help families and youth who live in extreme poverty, who are "truly disadvantaged" and who have demonstrated phenomenal propensity for resilience and respond positively to opportunity. If we can work together and support families in need, we can make a big difference. And we should.
If you would like to learn more or make a contribution to support YAP Kids and families, please click here.
For further information, please contact YAP CEO Jeff Fleischer, at email@example.com or at 908-513-7003.
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