Q & A from our Grant Report to Group Health Foundation:
What were your goals for this year, and what progress have you made toward achieving them?
We significantly expanded our outreach services to the North school districts of the county, with advocates providing our full range of services to a more racially diverse population of students than in the past. The poverty and substandard living conditions of this very rural area is evident and a ‘local’ advocate for our services helped facilitate things.
YES provided pantries for each school, and now stocks them weekly for all students, in addition to 65 food bags for McKinney Vento students. This is progress!
We are seeing external interest in the expansion of our physical footprint to another building on our site to house a recreation/education/advocacy YES Youth Center for all youth in the County. We are pursuing potential funding through Pend Oreille County for ARPA dollars specifically.
What do you hope to accomplish this year that you haven’t yet?
Targeting capital improvements/development. Department of Commerce has just issued an RFP for non-profits and tribes for capital projects, including centers like YES, which we will be applying for.
Additionally, a local LDS church with full understanding of our mission to achieving racial and health equity for all marginalized youth and young adults, including the LGBTQ+ community, is interested in helping us purchase materials for the building once the process has begun.
Our Amplifying Stories Project for indigenous students has moved more slowly than we had hoped but is still in play. Our assemblies with Dan Nanamkin at Cusick and Salish Immersion Schools were really well received.
We were poised to open our Drop-in Center for 7 days per week and it did not occur. Our capacity was hampered by the loss of 2 Advocates and our coordinator for the extended hours moved to another part of YES program.
We still plan to open the Center for 7 days per week with life skills classes for young adults:
- Rent Well – Tenant Education
- Financial Beginnings
- SAFE Curriculums
We will need to renovate our current site to house these programs, which may squeeze our food program out of our current space. Solutions may be a little house or garden type shed to house our food pantry. Heat and cold controls will be important.
Public transportation is non-existent for most of the county. YES is seeking affordable insurance to allow us to transport youth and young adults to our center for various purposes: attend advocacy appointments, lifeskill classes, wash and dry belongings, pick up essential supplies and food, shower, have a meal or join an event.
Regarding Amplifying Stories, we are currently planning on working with an Indigenous filmmaker and an Indigenous mentor to support youth in writing their own script and acting in their own films. This connection has been made through the Kalispel/WSU Extensions Program at the Cusick School District.
Summer Story Camp related to Amplifying Stories: bringing youth to the Camas Center(Kalispel Tribe at Usk, WA) to work with storyteller mentors to write, paint, sing or dance, etc. their own created stories. They would be able to have lunch and swim and use the Center’s climbing wall in the afternoon, after the morning’s session. YES has the funding for this.
As potential funding sources have been tentatively identified for expansion, several things need to happen to create viable grant requests.
What do you need to accomplish that remaining work?
We need to locate a contractor consultant to assess the site on our current property to determine feasibility and building type. Research costs of multi-use building and consider pre-fab, etc.
Begin creating a capital campaign to launch the project in 2023.
YES needs an experienced Program Manager with lived expertise to support and supervise Advocates. This person would need to have experience with supervision and youth, as well as the flexibility to embrace YES culture and advance our philosophy. The ED and Executive Assistant will be increasingly tasked with the capital campaign and supervision tasks would be happily shared. As the program is growing and to expand throughout the county and move to a 7 day week, we will need more Advocates. Staffing is a challenge with fewer candidates given our rural status, along with little affordable housing if folx wanted to move here for a job.
Money for enhanced benefits (Health Insurance and 401(k/b)) is something we continue to look at for great staff retention. We already pay a living wage beyond the norm of our county social service agencies and have generous leave policies, but health insurance is extremely expensive and we want to be able to feel confident that we can sustain it over the coming years. We hope our investments will give us the returns we need to do this.
We need more people on our Board. While it is diverse and dedicated, many of them have been serving for over 5 years. A campaign started last year to attract members with diverse experience as well as folx who are BIPOC/Indigenous and/or identify as LGBTQ+.
We need volunteers and mentors to teach hands-on life skills; cooking, small machines, welding, etc.
We began work with a financial advising firm, recommended to us by our CPA, to invest some cash on hand and add simply IRAs for staff. Currently our portfolio is not soaring but is stable. The aim is long term viability and vitality of the Agency to continue to pivot towards opportunities to greater advocate for racial and health equity and serve our mission to end youth homelessness.
We received a large unrestricted grant from Premera to use for a greatly expanded Client Services program. Our current federal funding and state funding is stable and continuing.