A high school freshman slumped in his chair and made no eye contact with the teacher. He wouldn’t talk in class, and certainly didn’t tell anyone what was going on in his life.
After several months of trying to connect with him, a City Year educator finally had a breakthrough when the student began to tear up during a hallway conversation. “There are no magic words that turn a student’s life around,” the educator said. “It takes a steady drumbeat of support and encouragement.”
About 1.2 million students drop out of high school every year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The ninth grader, who made it through the school year, will not be one of them due to the relentless work of City Year.
City Year in Philadelphia is one of 72 nonprofit organizations in 15 U.S. cities receiving grants from the Starbucks Foundation.
Last week the Starbucks Foundation announced $1.5 million in Opportunity for Youth grants ranging from $5,000 to $75,000. The grants are a reflection the foundation’s long history of investing in proven programs that equip young people ages 16-24 with the skills and training required for the global economy.
Here’s a glance at how five grant recipients will use the funds to support young people in their communities.
Los Angeles – Mexican American Opportunity Foundation
The Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) provides for the socio-economic betterment of the Latino community of California, while preserving the pride, values and heritage of the Mexican American culture.
“This grant from Starbucks will allow our organization to provide our youth with after school tutoring, mentoring, paid work experience and visits to college campuses as well as financial literacy,” said Martin Castro, President and CEO of MAOF. “The outcome of this grant is to assure our youth stay in school, obtain a GED if out of school, and career counseling so they can achieve self-sufficiency and obtain a piece of the American Dream.”
“It’s great to see the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation recognized for its incredible work serving the Latino community in the Los Angeles area. This generous grant from Starbucks will help increase opportunities for primarily Latino youth to develop the workplace skills necessary to compete in today’s global economy,” added U.S. Rep. Linda Sanchez. “I am proud Starbucks chose to recognize an organization from the 38th Congressional District which has been an outstanding community partner.”
Orlando – City Year Orlando
City Year is focused on addressing the high school dropout crisis in Orlando and across the country. The Whole School Whole Child intervention model deploys diverse teams of volunteer educators into academically challenged urban schools for a full academic year to support at-risk students. These whole-school supports include: research-driven academic interventions in math and English Language Arts; extended day programming; school climate initiatives that reinforce academic learning; and social-emotional coaching.
"Composed of dedicated and dynamic young people, City Year Orlando is making a difference in Central Florida,” said U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster. “As the Starbucks Foundation pursues their goal to build up communities and provide opportunities for our youth, they have chosen a worthy partner in City Year. This generous support will assist the City Year Orlando team in their mission to offer individualized, evidence-based interventions that change lives."
Philadelphia – City Year
City Year Philadelphia corps members provide in-school tutoring and mentoring to 13,000 students in 18 high-need schools. Throughout the school year, over 2,500 students receive targeted support in literacy, math, attendance and behavior. More than 50 percent of students who start the year with low grades are on track by the end of the school year. The Starbucks Foundation grant will support the training that corps members receive to enhance their leadership and teaching skills, which they apply when working with students.
“City Year is proud to partner with Starbucks to help students in high-poverty communities in Philadelphia and across the country succeed in school and graduate from high school, ready for college or a career,” said Michael Brown, CEO and Co-Founder, City Year Inc. “The engagement of Starbucks and its partners with our AmeriCorps members and the students we serve has been invaluable in the development of their professional skills, including teamwork and goal setting. We are inspired by Starbucks’ commitment to investing in America's youth and what we will achieve together.”
"Thank you to Starbucks for believing in the work of City Year Philadelphia and for recognizing the potential of our community’s youth. The Starbucks Foundation continues to invest in young people across America and I commend their extraordinary efforts to educate, train, and provide opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds. As a result of this grant, thousands of young Philadelphians will benefit from having more Corps members serving in high schools throughout our community,” said U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah. “I have been a longtime supporter of City Year and AmeriCorps, and applaud Starbucks for recognizing that with the proper support and encouragement – and through programs like these – we can change the life trajectory of our youth and make sure they reach their fullest potential.”
Indianapolis – Public Allies
The Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center’s (INRC) Public Allies program provides training and support to help grassroots organizations address issues that affect the quality of life in their neighborhoods. Public Allies counsels young people and seeks to develop leaders in inner-cities. The funding will help provide at least four possible placement sites for opportunity youth members.
“The INRC believes in the leadership potential already resident in our community. We believe all young people – regardless of their background, where they live, or the barriers they face – have talent and can be assets,” said Mitzi Wilson, Director. “Public Allies Indianapolis provides value-based leadership development that sets in place a pathway for education and career. By targeting and investing in opportunity youth in our community, we demonstrate the value of Indianapolis’ young adults to be agents of change in their communities and in their own lives.”
“The work of Public Allies Indianapolis is two-fold: Not only does the organization provide valuable support for local nonprofits, but it also engages young people in meaningful community service and professional development,” said U.S. Rep. André Carson. “I am delighted to learn of Starbucks support of Public Allies Indianapolis, and I look forward to the program’s continued good work resulting from this grant.”
Phoenix – Arizona Call-A-Teen Youth Resources
For over 35 years, Arizona Call-A-Teen Youth Resources has equipped young people with academic, vocational, and social skills. The nonprofit is recognized locally and nationally for providing programs of high quality and accountability, specifically designed to address the education and workforce development needs of young people who have dropped out of school or whose life circumstances make them at risk of not completing high school. Over 91 percent of program participants either remain in school, complete high school or its equivalent, or enter postsecondary education and/or employment.
“We envision a community in which young people are valued as key contributors to the community's healthy growth and development,” said Sharlet Barnett, CEO. “The ACHIEVE project addresses and aligns with the Starbucks Opportunity Youth grant main goals through our mission of equipping young people with academic, vocational, and social skills by offering opportunities to claim their individual potential, secure their economic future and transition to the roles required of responsible adulthood.”
"I want to congratulate Arizona Call-A-Teen Youth Resources for receiving the Starbucks Opportunity Youth Grant for their ACHIEVE project which will help engage underserved youth in our community, build leadership skills, and provide access to better education and training,” said U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego. “Thanks to Starbucks Opportunity Youth Grant, Arizona's underprivileged and at risk youth will have better opportunities for success."
In addition to the Opportunity for Youth grants, Starbucks plans to open stores in 15 diverse, low to medium income urban communities. The stores will include training centers and are a key part of Starbucks goal of hiring 10,000 Opportunity Youth – young people between the ages of 16-24 who face systemic barriers to jobs and education. Starbucks is also a part of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, which will hold its first hiring fair and forum in Chicago on August 13.
Photo courtesy City Year Philadelphia