Youth Empowerment Strategies for Success (YESS)
Overview of YESS
(formerly Mega-network Continuum of Care/YESS)
Description of the Organization:
YESS is a collaborative of organizations that focuses on improving quality of life for East Palo Alto (EPA) youth and their families. It has a bi-partite structure comprised of a Policy Group that governs, sets direction and oversees progress of the collaborative and a Direct Services Group that implements service prevention initiatives.
YESS was initially formed as a result of an agreement established between the East Palo Alto Crime Reduction Task Force and the former East Palo Alto Youth and Young Adults Serving Agencies Consortium (both of which have been convened by One East Palo Alto (OEPA) since 2005 and 2004, respectively) to come together and work strategically on improving service provision. Such improvement would focus on ways to ensure that EPA youth and young adults ages 14-24 develop all of the assets needed to realize their full potential.
YESS' overall aim is to create a formal mechanism by which different organizations that work in EPA's youth service arena can become more proactive and systems change-oriented with a view to accomplishing the following: (1) become a network of collaborating entities; (2) work to create specific goals for initiatives to be undertaken; (3) develop memoranda of understanding governing commitments, including collaborative fundraising; (4) bring concerns about youth and identified gaps in services to the fore and (5) address service gaps in a collaborative way so as to frame the service provision work being done.
Vision of YESS:
East Palo Alto youth and young adults are connected to resources and supports that maximize personal development.
Mission of YESS:
The mission of YESS is currently in development. Its articulation will be guided by the following values adopted by the group: collaboration, accountability, youth/young adult- focused, inclusiveness, continuous improvement, sustainability and outcomes driven.
Currently, YESS has attracted 35 member organizations. These include four (4) institutional entities - East Palo Alto Police Department, Ravenswood City School District, San Mateo County (office of Supervisor WarrenSlocum) and Sequoia Union High School District - and 31 local nonprofits.
Services and Activities Provided:
Each year, YESS adopts a work plan of priority services and activities to be conducted that will accomplish the following strategic goals adopted by the collaborative: promote asset development in youth programs; share information and resources; create and implement a community-wide youth plan, and link the YESS network with local, state and national funding initiatives. Priority initiatives for the 2013-2014 fiscal year (July 1 through June 30) are as follows: (1) Youth Engagement and Youth Development - Strengthen services, supports and opportunities for and with youth and work with youth to achieve YESS goals; (2) Parent/Family Engagement - Build a collaborative family-school-community partnership that will enhance student learning and achievement by emphasizing the importance of social, emotional, and intellectual learning and development; (3) Data to Action (Data Linking and Use) - Use data and data linking to improve programs, practices and policies for youth and (4) Fundraising to Support Joint Activities - Resource development to support YESS goals and priorities.
Brief Description of What the YESS Membership Contribution Will Go Toward:
Institutional and nonprofit contributions to the YESS, $5,000 and $50 respectively, go toward supporting the collaborative's ongoing operations. More specifically, the contributions help cover annual costs of staff support for planning, convening and documenting regular meetings; purchasing materials and supplies for meetings and special events; funding internet-based and other group-wide communications and conducting assessments and other evaluative procedures.
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