The following is a Christian Work Project sponsored in part by a grant from the Boston Baptist Social Union.
BUYF works with truant middle school students most at risk of dropping out of school. The grant we are seeking will go towards weeklong overnight summer camp and for the programming we provide during the school year for truants at the Dearborn (Roxbury), Gavin (South Boston) middle schools, and our high school students.
A recent study of Boston Public Schools 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.
I want to thank [Boston] Baptist Social Union for its support and partnership with the Boston Urban Youth Foundation. 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 that 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. This year has been tough economically and people do desperate things. BUYF is waging in a supernatural battle for our young people. We confidently say that God can handle that battle and we need to show our young people how powerful our God is.
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 [Boston] 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 Boston Public Schools 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. Thanks again for your support and partnership!
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 United States is one of the strongest and most influential leaders of the world, but suffers from a dropout crisis.
These alarming statistics are not unacceptable for a first world country and have garnered national attention. The young people in this country need early intervention from a wide variety of sources: schools, community based organizations, state/city agencies, health care organizations, families, churches, etc, to ensure high school graduation.
According to the John Hopkins study done on Boston's 6th graders (1996-2006), 6th graders who had less than 90% attendance only had an 18% graduation rate. Because of this startling statistic, BUYF soley focuses on middle school truants and early intervention strategies to increase the city's graduation rate and improve college access. The mission of BUYF is to help high-risk, low-income, minority youth develop spiritually, emotionally, academically, and economically.
The following research studies highlight how truancy and dropouts affect the city of Boston.
These 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. BUYF believes in the holistic approach to youth development. It is not enough to get our young people in engaged and attending school. Each young person needs to understand and believe that their identity is rooted in the Lord and not in the streets, media, and stereotypes.
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 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 Bullding 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 Boston Public Schools 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 identity in street life are possible incarceration, crime, violence, drugs, etc.
This current school year (2009-2010), BUYF is serving 300 at -risk youth: 100 truant middle schoolers at Dearborn in Roxbury, 50 truant youth at the Gavin Middle School in South Boston, and 100 high-risk high schoolers. Due to the rough economic times this past year, BUYF has not been able to expand its program, but we have maintained our programs serving Boston's high-risk youth in the Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and South Boston.
BUYF would like the Boston Baptist Social Union to fund our faith portion of our Building Futures Educational Initiative - summer camp and program money for the school year. Instead of funding a service project like last year, we would like BBSU to fund our young people to attend a Christian camp.
We are asking Boston Baptist Social Union to fund [grant] toward overnight Christian camp.
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 have gender specific groups that discuss relationships and body image issues. Last year, our young people were not involved in any shootings or homicides. This is a huge feat for our youth. They had to battle with themselves and their friends to do the right thing. The staff was on-call the entire summer and was normally the first to arrive when a violent attack transpired. The staff talked with the streetworkers and the police to get the facts, but most importantly, they talked with the young people and spoke against retaliation.
An important part of our summer is to expose our young people to new situations and opportunities. This summer, we are taking 45 young people to a weeklong summer camp called CitiKidz (owned and operated by Summer's Best Two Weeks). The camp is in central Pennsylvania. The cost of the camp is low — $100/camper. CitiKidz keeps the costs low for urban youth because they want the young people to experience overnight camp. The weeklong camp offers sports, water activities, bible studies, and silly activities. Because of the economy, we were not able to send our young people to camp last summer. This year, it is a priority for BUYF. This is the only opportunity for many of our youth to leave Boston and act like a kid.
Attending camp 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. The camp activities build teamwork among the group and help the youth to develop leadership skills that will motivate them into the next school year. This camp will teach our young people about Jesus and His teachings in a comfortable, safe setting. 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.
CitiKidz has over 10 years experience in hosting urban youth. BUYF sent young people to this camp four years ago. All the BUYF staff attends the camp to help the camp staff with our young people.
Here is a breakdown of costs:
We are asking Boston BaptIst Social Union to fund [grant] for our CLUB program expenses beginning in September.
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 activity. CLUB provides a positive peer group for these at-risk youth. The Life Coaches and guest local Ministers 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 of 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 150 chronically truant middle school students.
BUYF also follow its middle school students into high school. We served 100 high school students at 10 Boston high schools.
Throughout the year, 50 young people attended weekly CLUB (Christian Living Using the Bible). We had 15 young people start attending church on their own at various local churches.
BUYF youth were not arrested at all this summer and this is a direct result of the staff teaching and equipping our young people to make the right decisions and choices and see consequences.