Reflecting on 2018 and Looking Forward

As the new year approaches, we are reflecting on Youthprise’s place in the philanthropic landscape over the past year, and incorporating the lessons we’ve learned as we look forward to 2019. 2018 was both a heartbreaking and hopeful year. We saw young people demonstrate leadership in philanthropy, research, and community organizing. 2018 provided the perfect context to recommit to our values, and strengthen our commitment to our mission to reduce disparities with and for Minnesota youth. At eight years old, we are a statewide resource to youth-serving organizations and systems that impact youth. Over the past year our grantmaking, advocacy and research aligned with our core impact areas: Learning and Leadership, Economic Opportunity, and Health and Safety. Below you will find some of the success stories from our grantees and partners in these impact areas, and learn about how this work has been accomplished in partnership with youth.

Economic Opportunity

Our Economic Opportunity impact area increases access to high-quality economic opportunities for young people to ensure the long-term success of youth and communities in Minnesota. Opportunity Reboot, a core initiative in this area, mobilizes public and private resources to sustain and grow the work of organizations across the state creating career pathways for youth who are disconnected from education and employment. In 2018, our Opportunity Reboot grantees in the Twin Cities, Northfield, Faribault, Sauk Rapids, Duluth and Red Wing have served over 1,000 youth. 478 young people have been placed in jobs and organizations have provided credentials or certification in high-demand industries for over 300 young people.

Learning and Leadership

In our Learning and Leadership impact area, we launched an exciting initiative to capitalize on funding opportunities through Minnesota Afterschool Advance. This summer, Youthprise, in collaboration with Venn Foundation, launched Minnesota Afterschool Advance (MAA), an initiative designed to help families that meet income requirements utilize the Minnesota K-12 Education Tax Credit to pay for academic, fine arts, and performing arts out-of-school time activities. The initiative provides families a 3-to-1 match on the dollars they spend on these activities, up to $1,000 per child per year. Youthprise and Venn Foundation secured a $207,000 Community Innovation Grant from The Bush Foundation and piloted the program in Northfield in the fall.

Health and Safety

In our Health and Safety impact area, we expanded cross-sector initiatives that will support youth impacted by systems. In 2018 Youthprise expanded its juvenile justice partnership with Ramsey County. We deepened our involvement in the Ramsey County juvenile justice system reforms, while continuing to support wraparound services for young people involved in these systems. Youthprise will manage and distribute grants from a $2.5 million fund that Ramsey County has established to provide services and resources for youth and their families who are at-risk for “deep end” juvenile justice system involvement. Over the next five years, $500,000 will be awarded each year to organizations and families to help reduce or prevent long term correctional out of home placement, reduce racial and ethnic disparities, address unmet needs of youth and their families, and improve the juvenile justice system.

And we continued to center young people across all of our work through our investments in youth-driven research, youth philanthropy and our prioritization of youth on our board and grant review panels. We granted $90,000 to support Youth Participatory Action Research with a youth-led grant review process. We supported statewide YouthBank sites with $115,000 in grants. We prioritized youth leadership by launching a youth training team, and in partnership with our learning partners at the University of Minnesota, conducted trainings and orientations for new YouthBank sites. We launched our Disrupt Series, a training series created by youth and adults to help organizations and corporations move the needle around internal structures for youth engagement and racial equity through design thinking, building authentic relationships, and research and evaluation. We are excited to grow our role as a capacity builder and look forward to continued work in the coming year.

We have also turned inward to refine our work. In 2017, we worked with University of Minnesota evaluation studies graduate students to understand and synthesize Youthprise’s work to develop a refreshed theory of change and logic model with clear outcomes in collaboration with staff, board, and stakeholders. Moving forward, we will continue to be intentional about aligning our grantmaking with outcomes around creating equitable opportunities for youth in learning and leadership, economic opportunity, and health and safety. In 2019 we will welcome Thompson Aderinkomi as our adult Board Co-Chair. Thompson will help us usher in our Youth in Governance Model alongside his youth Co-Chair, Renelle Mensah, who has served on the board for four years (two as Co-Chair). During the first half of 2019, we are excited to begin strategic planning for the next three years of Youthprise’s work.

All three of the examples we highlighted are about access, opportunity, and equity. They also speak powerfully to the intersect of Youthprise’s three priority areas. If 2018 taught us anything, it reminds us that we must involve families, private/public partners and young people in the important work of executing our mission. As we look forward to 2019, we know our work is reflective of the resilience and ingenuity of our youth and the work of our partners and grantees. We are thankful for our partners and grantees that strive to make Minnesota a better place for all young people, we could not do this work alone.

Happy New Year,

Wokie & Marcus

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