The following is a Christian Work Project sponsored in part by a grant from the Boston Baptist Social Union.
The grant request will go towards our work with truant middle school students most at risk of dropping out. Of this funding, $5,000 will go towards summer camp and a service project and the remaining amount will provide programming for truants at the Dearbom (Roxbury), Umana (East Boston), and Mildred Avenue (formerly Lewenberg in Mattapan) middle schools.
I want to thank you and the Baptist Social Union for its support and partnership with the Boston Urban Youth Foundation. Through it, BUYF can meet its mission to ''help young people develop spiritually, emotionally, academically, and economically As a faith-based group, our Life Coaches help cast a vision with young people for who God is, they are and what their future can hold. Many of our young people lack hope and vision quickly feeds into the work of the thief who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy the lives of our young people. Not attending school and dropping out results in incarceration, poverty, and even death.
A recent study of BPS 6th graders found that those with less than a 90% attendance had only an 18% graduation rate. Those who dropout have an average income of $16,000 and cost Massachusetts taxpayers $455,000 per dropout in social costs. Nearly 35% of middle schoolers fall into this category. BUYF is committed to opening the doors to the abundant life of Christ and helping young people recognize the things that the thief seeks to destroy them. Funding from the Baptist Social Union will enable BUYF to help young people recognize that they were created in the image of God to do great things (Eph 2:10). As a result of your support and partnership, BUYF has not only improved school engagement, attendance, performance, and college access; it has developed young Christian leaders in our city. Some of these leaders are teachers in BPS and youth ministers in our cities' churches and para-church organizations throughout Boston.
Through your support, we can target those most in the sights of the thief who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy and cast a vision for an abundant life rooted in Christ's love and purpose.
Boston Urban Youth Foundation's mission is to help high-risk, low-income, minority Boston youth develop spiritually, emotionally, academically, and economically. Over the years, BUYF has been an innovator in building positive futures for youth. BUYF believes that we are engaged in a battle of hope and vision. BUYF was founded under Christian principles and continues to show the at-risk youth that there are concrete life-changing ways to curb the dropout to poverty/crime pipeline. We share who Christ is and that we are created in the image of Christ. Our history and methodology are rooted in that hope and vision.
The school-to-prison/poverty pipeline begins with middle school attendance. The following research studies highlight how truancy and dropouts affect the city of Boston.
The statistics speak to the scale of the dropout problem, but they don't speak to the root cause of the problem. The dropout issue is rooted in the lack of hope and vision the youth possesses. As a faith-based organization, BUYF is uniquely qualified to speak to those characteristics.
BUYF, through the Building Futures Educational Initiative, focuses on early identification of chronically truant middle school students, by motivating, mobilizing, and equipping these vulnerable youth with the skills and supports needed to complete high school and attend college. BUYF uniquely combines case management and youth development strategies in a creative year-round program to keep youth engaged in school, after school, and in the summer.
The Life Success Coach (LSC), a caring adult engaging in the life of high risk youth, facilitates this individual assessment, tutoring and intensive planning for success in order to insure that young people do not fall through the cracks towards delinquency. The LSC is placed in the middle schools to work with the truant students and partner with the teachers and administrators to re-engage the students. LSCs pour in countless time; in school, out of school, and in the summer, and energy into these students with the overall purpose of instilling hope and vision in their lives. Life coaching is a preventative measure as opposed to concentrating energy and resources into reactive measures where it's often difficult to get the dropout back into school.
Our Building Futures Educational Initiative is the only school partnership program that begins in middle school to address truancy and potential school failure by providing a comprehensive continuum of services year round to high-risk minority youth.
Each year, nearly 35% of BPS middle school students are truant, a primary indicator of later dropouts. BUYF knows that these student dropout because they have a lack of hope and vision. Most of the youth don't see the connection between education and success. They see things that are not focused on or in direct opposition of education. we all recognize the role education has on life. Our identity is even more important than education. Much of what BUYF addresses is a contrast between an identity rooted in God's image vs. an identity rooted in street culture. The negative consequences of a misguided identify in street life are possible incarceration, crime, violence, drugs, etc.
This current school year (2008-2009), BUYF is serving 300 at-risk youth at 3 BPS schools: Lewenberg in Mattapan, Dearborn in Roxbury, Umana in East Boston. BUYF launched in East Boston in September and has had great success there thus far. BUYF'S hope is to expand to 5 schools next year serving 400 students. Boston Public Schools have announced changes in schools for the next school year. BUYF has met with the BPS superintendents and have discussed its plans for the 2009-2010 school year. BUYF plans to be at 5 schools next school year: Dearborn, Umana, Mildred Ave. in Mattapan, Gavin in South Boston, and Harbor in Dorchester. The Lewenberg is changing into a special exam school so BPS thought BUYF would be better utilized at the newly changed Mildred Ave K-8 schools. Most of our Lewenberg kids will move to Mildred Ave. BUYF will prioritize staffing the Mildred Ave and Umana schools before launching at the Gavin and Harbor Schools.
BUYF would like the Boston Baptist Social Union to fund our faith portion of our Building Futures Educational initiative
In the summer, BUYF holds several activities to keep the youth engaged and build momentum for the next school year and not lose ground. We have the youth participate in community mapping. They learn to tell the story of their communities and share their ideas and solutions to community issues of housing, transportation, poverty, schools, crime, etc. We also take the youth on a service project. Depending on the funding we receive, we will take the kids on a Habitat for Humanity project domestically or internationally. The service project teaches the youth about leadership skills and most importantly, how to help and serve others-one of Jesus' most valuable lessons. Most of the at-risk youth are constantly being served, so when they get to actually serve, it has a profound impact on how they view others and themselves.
The service project falls under our vision casting component of our methodology. BUYF wants the truant youth we serve to have the opportunities to open their eyes to new things and have experiences that change the way they view their lives. Through the service project, the youth will see directly how they can positively impact a community. BUYF will take 50 youth 16 years and older on a community service probed for a week. The service probed builds teamwork among the group and helps the youth to develop leadership skills that will motivate them into the next school year. BUYF views the service project as an opportunity for the youth that have been in BUYF'S program for a few years to understand what it means to be selfless. Jesus spoke to his disciples in the Gospels that we are to «love your neighbor as yourself.» Serving others and being a part of a bigger project helps to validate our youth's identity in Christ and that we are all part of God's world.
Also in the summer, the Life Success Coaches take the BUYF participants to Young Life camp at Lake Champion, NY for a week in August. At Young Life Camp, the youth learn leadership development and trust skills, study the Bible, worship God with kids from all over the New England area, and have fun participating in outdoor activities. BUYF would like to send 50 kids to camp this summer. The cost of sending 50 kids to camp is $15,000. We do ask the youth to pay $100 toward the camp fee and raise funds for the rest.
During the year, BUYF offers CLUB on Monday nights for the youth ages 11-18. CLUB, Christian Living Using the Bible, shows the at-risk youth how to live a Christian life and what that looks like. CLUB consists of worship, dinner, a Bible activity, speaker, and a fun ability. CLUB provides a positive peer group for these at-risk youth. The Life Coaches and Executive Director cast a vision to the youth so they hear who Christ is, what He is about, and how to grow in Christ. CLUB fosters positive peer experiences and introduces Christian principles into the lives of the young people we serve. CLUB is an exciting place because kids from all different neighborhoods throughout Boston come together in a safe environment. CLUB teaches our youth peaceful conflict resolution and mediation skills, how to build a positive community and become role models for their neighborhoods.
BUYF served 300 chronically truant middle school students at 3 BPS schools.
Throughout the year, 50 young people attended weekly CLUB (Christian Living Using the Bible).