How do our grantees advance racial equity and or youth engagement in their programs?
Toward the end of 2018, the Youthprise Research and Evaluation Team conducted grantee interviews to investigate that question. We were purposeful about making the interview process more interactive and comfortable for our grantees, and intentional about selecting grantees that we had not typically highlighted. The Research and Evaluation Team designed an interview template that followed our theory of change, and the themes throughout the interviews were racial equity and youth engagement.
One goal of the interviews was to strengthen our relationships with our grantees and to elevate and share their stories of impact. In 2019, the Team compiled the data and wrote the stories, which will now be highlighted on our website and social media.
Palace Community Center
Palace Community Center is one of the largest recreational centers in Saint Paul. The center offers year-round recreational activities, academic programs, fitness space, and more for youth and families that live in the Palace Neighborhood.
Camolly Williams started working as Right Track Worker at the Saint Paul Recreation Center and has since become the Palace Community Center Director. Cammolly has a great understanding of what people need in the community and tries to incorporate and accommodate as much as she can so that they are happy.
She has always been passionate about the work she does, but she was exceptionally moved by a young mother who was able to join her child for the free meal program offered by the center through Youthprise’s Nutrition Program. The mother expressed how thankful she was for this program because she doesn’t know where else she would have gone to get support like this. Hearing the touching stories of recipients and “seeing the smiles” of community members is what continues to push Camolly to do her work.
"True youth leadership is 'allowing the youth to become their own agents of change and having autonomy to determine the type of programs or activities that are available at the center.'”
AGENTS OF CHANGE
The organization has a 12-member Youth Council that meets monthly. In order to have a holistic view of what participants need, there is a diverse group of young people that range from young kids to young adults. Their conversations are considerate, honest, and creative. Once they are able to determine the needs of the young people around them, they implement everyone’s ideas into programming. Camolly defines true youth leadership as “allowing the youth to become their own agents of change and having the autonomy to determine the type of programs or activities that are available at the center.”
Acceptance and inclusion are the main objectives of the organization.
When people feel like they are welcomed and their needs are considered, they feel at home, regardless of color, creed, or religion, the Palace is open.