Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. Implements New Strategy to Elevate and Expand its Effective Alternatives to Youth Prisons and other Institutions - Article Details

Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. Implements New Strategy to Elevate and Expand its Effective Alternatives to Youth Prisons and other Institutions

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$20 million grant from Ballmer Group enables YAP to scale programs and share lessons from evidence-based models for serving youth who often have nowhere else to go

Harrisburg, PA (July 11, 2018) – Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. (YAP) has implemented a new strategy to increase its impact and reach more communities with its unique home-based alternative to costly youth prisons and other institutions for young people and vulnerable adults. YAP is in 100 communities in 23 states (including Washington, DC), serving and empowering 13,000 youth and vulnerable adults who would otherwise be in some type of out-of-home placement, including prison or residential treatment. 

YAP’s data-proven model of serving youth and others safely at home in their communities involves matching individuals with neighborhood advocates. These advocates are paid mentors who partner with the young people, individuals and families YAP serves. The advocates help the individuals design blueprints for their lives and work with their YAP teams to connect them and their families with community resources and tools that reinforce their foundations.

Since receiving a $20 million grant in 2017 from Ballmer Group, YAP has worked to carefully develop and institute principles guiding how it will apply the funding. The result is a sound approach to accelerate its growth and strengthen its impact in reducing institutional placement, improving economic mobility, reducing racial disparities and advancing social justice for more youth and families.

“Youth Advocate Programs offers unconditional caring for kids with the most complex needs,” said Jeff Edmondson, managing director of Ballmer Group. “We believe everyone deserves a shot at moving up, so we are proud to support an organization that embraces the belief that every single child is critically important to making this happen.”

YAP’s initial investments include developing and launching intensive services to help commercially sexually exploited children; “YAPWORX,” an economic opportunities-through-skill development program; a child welfare substance use program; and intensive services and support for transition-age youth. YAP will also invest in research initiatives and partnerships that will help the organization document, learn from and inform the broader field with lessons from its evidence-based models and strengthen its impact with innovative pilot programs related to system change, racial and social justice and YAP’s Safely Home Campaign.

“We are grateful to Ballmer Group for what for us is a game changer that affirms, supports and advances our mission,” said YAP CEO Jeff Fleischer. “The investment will help us realize our goal of helping more people access support in the community and changing systems’ reliance on institutional placement. This gift bolsters our largely publicly funded programs with private dollars, enabling us to strengthen and scale our model for empowering individuals and families with tools that stabilize many aspects of their lives -- social, economic, health, spiritual, emotional and others.”

Since 1975, YAP has served those society considers to be the toughest youth, many who often have nowhere else to go, all while adhering to its policy of never turning away or kicking anyone out of its programs. YAP partners with juvenile justice, child welfare, mental health, intellectual and developmental disability/autism, public health, educational, substance abuse, workforce development and other local agencies. While connecting youth and adults facing adversity with resources or personalized toolkits to restructure and reinforce their foundations, YAP helps these individuals identify their own gifts and skills and ways to give back to their communities.

YAP is applying some of the funding for frontline staff recruitment, retention and training programs. In addition, YAP will reinforce its infrastructure with updated information technology systems and software that enhance its ability to track important outcomes data. YAP is also improving its marketing, communications and fund development capabilities to raise its profile and attract more donors and investors looking to bolster public investments in evidence-based solutions to their communities’ most pressing challenges and opportunities.

Future initiatives include partnering with potential local referral agencies to launch programs in states YAP currently does not serve. Some grant dollars will go towards strengthening the YAP Endowment Fund -- which is supported primarily through payroll deductions -- to provide more education and work training scholarships for youth and families in its programs.  YAP expects to direct some dollars to its “Push the Needle” flex fund, which helps those in its programs in need of life start-up money for apartment or security deposits and other basic needs to help transition into adulthood or get their lives started in a new, positive direction.

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