Five Impactful Strategic Investments

Youthprise utilizes strategic investments to invest in large-scale, high-impact, long-term work that complements our grantmaking and programming.

In general, our investments take 4 main forms: Leveraging Grants and Contracts allow Youthprise to use our funding to match funding from partner organizations in order to invest greater amounts of funding in youth-serving organizations than either we or they would otherwise be able to do without the partnership; Field-Building Funding supports the development, expansion, and improvement of the youth development field in Minnesota; Partnership Grants and Contracts use our grantmaking funding and grantmaking infrastructure to partner with organizations, initiatives, and projects whose activities align with the mission, goals, and values of our organization and our work; and Event Sponsorship is our investment in one-time or periodic events and organizational activities that promote our work and align with our mission and goals. 

We wanted to showcase five of the Most Impactful Strategic Investments, but it's impossible to rank them--all of our work is important to us and the world. So here are five un-ranked Impactful Strategic Investments that we believe demonstrate the strength, importance, and range of Youthprise's strategic investments!

BROOKLYNK

Apply for BrookLynk photo

Background

In 2014, the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth (BBAY), then called the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance, approached Youthprise. They wanted to start a youth employment program modeled after Step Up in Minneapolis or Right Track in St Paul, and the first citywide youth employment program in a Twin Cities suburb. We agreed it was a good investment while noting that we would need to make certain that businesses in Brooklyn Park would also invest in their youth. We agreed to pool our resources through a leverage agreement, businesses stepped up, and in no time at all, BBAY raised over $200,000, Youthprise contributed $100,000, and Brooklynk was born, under the name "Get Ready! Work Readiness Training."

COMMUNITY AMBASSADORS

Background

Community Ambassadors was originally titled "The Saint Paul Youth Intervention Initiative (SPYII)." Central to the program are the "Ambassadors," culturally-specific youth workers who guide youth to programs, services, and employment—hence the eventual name change. Ambassadors are recruited from the communities they serve and meet youth where they are. The Community Ambassadors work to build relationships with young people in locations around Saint Paul that are experiencing youth crime and other youth-related issues in order to prevent them from interacting with the criminal justice system.

First piloted in 2013, the program employs multiple intervention strategies to reduce youth violence and provide positive, culturally specific developmental supports and redirection to hard-to-reach youth.

Why was this a high impact leverage?

Youthprise leveraged over $105k to support the program in 2014, and leveraged support from five additional funders to almost triple the level of investment the next year. Community Ambassadors also made use of many local connections, with its youth-centered programming occurring at seven St. Paul recreation centers. Project partners include the City of Saint Paul (the Mayor’s Office, the Saint Paul Police Department, and Parks & Recreation), and then lead partner YWCA St. Paul as well as Neighborhood House, Soultouch Productions, and 180 Degrees. All of this contributes to a far-reaching, long-term impact.

 

Outcomes

The program's Steering Committee decided to rename it to the Community Ambassadors Initiative (CAI) and to house it at the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center instead of the YWCA. Project outcomes included a 63% decrease in youth arrests in targeted areas.

The program was featured in the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press as SPYII and in Christian Science Monitor as Community Ambassadors.

YOUTH ON BOARDS

Northfield Healthy Community Initiative group photo

Background

In 2014, the Youthprise approved a grant for the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative (HCI) to continue developing PRIMEtime, its out-of-school-time network. Funding was used to support the PRIMEtime, as well as to expand the City of Northfield's youth civic engagement by promoting youth leadership on boards in PRIMEtime sites. In partnership with the City of Northfield, Northfield Public Schools, and Youthprise; Youth on Boards was created as part of this push to promote youth civic engagement.

 

Why was this a high impact leverage?

Youthprise provided HCI the final push it needed to get the project moving. Our leveraging tends to combine funding and more intangible support. In this case, it was Youthprise's expertise is youth board membership that was a benefit. Both organizations leveraged their relationships as well, crafting collaborative program where governmental and community organizations all do a part to offer young people a space on their boards.

 

Outcomes

The program continues with lasting success. Today, over 90 young people now serve on the boards of Northfield organizations. In addition, the program has received a Local Government Innovation Awards (LGIA) award from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs due to its innovation and success.

BETTER TOGETHER HENNEPIN FUND

Background

In 2014, Youthprise began a partnership with Hennepin County to support activities aimed at addressing sexual health and teen pregnancy prevention. This partnership resulted in Better Together Hennepin (BTH), a program that implements evidence-based programming designed to prevent teen pregnancy among youth within a network of charter schools in Hennepin County.

Sexual Health and Adolescent Risk Prevention (SHARP) sessions and The Teen Outreach Program (TOP) are a vital part of the program. The partnership also supports the development of a Health Mentor Model that includes classroom and small group educational activities, 1:1 individualized health mentoring, school-wide activities, and training on adolescent sexual health for teachers and other school staff.

Why was this a high impact leverage?

The focus of leveraging has been to seed new initiatives with the incentive of Youthprise matching funds or to shift and influence the focus of resources to align with our mission. The Better Together Hennepin has focused all of its resources to support out-of-school providers of youth development programming on sexual health. Prior to the partnership with Youthprise, some of the resources were used to support school teachers providing classroom sessions on sexual health. Youthprise matched funds raised by Hennepin County for the Better Together Hennepin Fund, almost doubling the amounts set aside by the county.

 

Outcomes

Better Together Hennepin provides services in 35 clinics, Hennepin County’s Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation, and in each of the more than 30 schools within its eight-city service area. Better Together Hennepin reaches more than 4,000 Hennepin County youth and parents annually living in eight cities with the highest teen birth rates. After the implementation of the program, Hennepin County’s teen birth rate was lower than the statewide rate for the first time in 10 years.

MISSION IMPACT COUNCIL

Background

In 2012, the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities and Youthprise decided to pool their resources to increase equity and opportunity for young people from the urban core ages 12-24 as a strategy for creating a greater Twin Cities where everyone thrives. The Y was particularly interested in helping to promote social responsibility, as their other two pillars, youth development and healthy living, were much better known. Youthprise was interested in increasing equity and opportunity for youth of color as it was aligned with our values and philosophy.

Youthprise and the  YMCA agreed to establish a “Social Responsibility Fund” to support high-quality youth development programming and to initiate a Mission Impact Council (MIC). Youth-serving organizations in the Twin Cities were invited to join the Mission Impact Council, which chaired by our own Wokie Weah, Leslie Wright of United Way, and Glen Gunderson of the YMCA. Members organizations had access to tools and data and could apply for grant funding through Youthprise. Together, the 30+ organizations of the MIC developed community-based solutions that challenged inequities and changed life opportunities for underserved youth in the Twin Cities.

Why was this a high impact leverage?

The MIC was rooted in supporting young people who have capacity but often lacked opportunity. Youthprise and the Y each contributed over $100k to this cause while developing the capacity of local youth-serving organizations. Not to mention that the Twin Cities Y had tremendous reach nationally and internationally, allowing this work to go even further.

Outcomes

Since its inception, the MIC has held over 30 community meetings and has engaged in seven immersion experiences, which expose participating organizations to issues present in the African American, Hmong, homeless and highly mobile, Latino/Hispanic, Liberian, Native American and Somali communities. Other outcomes have included the participation of over 12,000 teens in various YMCA programs; and over 5,100 children, youth, and families participated in Healthy Kids Day.

MIC members decided that, in addition to tools and data, the Y would benefit from an Equity and Innovation Center that could help organizations learn about implicit bias and the history of race in the Twin Cities in an interactive environment. The Equity and Innovation Center remains a flagship program for the Y helping and supporting organizations take a deeper dive around Equity Issues.

Again, these are just five of Youthprise's strategic investments. There are plenty more leveraging grants, field-building funds, partnership grants, and event sponsorships in our past and in our future. Please be sure to sign up for our mailing list and follow us on social media if you want to support this work or, just maybe, become a strategic investment partner in the future.