Harvest funding youth plan

November 4, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Harvest Foundation awarded $202,295 to implement a Youth Collaborative over the next two years.

Earlier this year, about 40 community organizations formed the Youth Collaborative which developed a Positive Youth Development Community Action Plan (Youth Action Plan), according to a Harvest news release. The plan is a framework to meet the needs of children and teens in Henry County and Martinsville.

The $205,295 in Harvest funds will go to the United Way of Henry County and Martinsville to implement the plan.

“We are excited to partner with the Harvest Foundation and the many youth serving agencies that have played a role in developing the Youth Action Plan,” said Tiffani Underwood, executive director of The United Way of Henry County and Martinsville. “The United Way is committed to building systems for community change and this collaborative is a great example of how numerous organizations can work together towards advancing the common good of serving youth in Martinsville and Henry County.”

The Youth Action Plan, completed in July 2013, identifies needs, potential solutions and goals related to the positive development of area youth. It has strategies related to career readiness, life skills and recreation.

For instance, under career readiness, the plan lists three primary problems with related goals and potential solutions and strategies:

• Problem: Lack of understanding of the working world, which translates into a lack of essential (soft) skills and making good lifestyle choices. The goal is to increase the number of youth getting career readiness credentials. That could be accomplished by developing a clearinghouse of industry-recognized career readiness credentials in the region; development of core competencies; partnering or aligning with schools and business associations; and developing a method of evaluation.

• Problem: Lack of understanding of the value of work. Potential solutions include finding ways to demonstrate options in life and careers and articulating why a career is important. To increase youth participating in work-based learning, strategies include developing a clearinghouse for existing youth work opportunities, promoting work-based learning and work-readiness assessments and developing a campaign of career opportunities.

• Problem: Lack of understanding of the value of education. Potential solutions are kids supporting each other in groups and having an organized support system in and out of the school system, such as through churches and organizations.

Kim Adkins of KEA Consulting Services, LLC will manage the Youth Collaborative as it begins implementing the plan.

“I was fortunate to be cluster leader early on in this process to help develop strategies related to this plan and saw firsthand the effectiveness of organizations coming together with common goals to strengthen the area’s youth programs. Moving forward as the facilitator, I am honored that I will be in a position to help put this plan into action,” said Adkins.

“The Youth Action Plan is a great opportunity to create a wonderfully positive community environment for our youth and families,” said Jim Tobin, executive director of Piedmont Community Services and a participant of the Youth Collaborative.

“The dialogue over the past months among community organizations has been a great demonstration of everyone working together for the common purpose of benefiting children and the community. I personally look forward to participating as the plan unfolds over the next two years and positive outcomes are achieved,” he added.

Gladys Hairston, Harvest Foundation program officer, said this is being considered “Phase II of a ‘system-building’ process.”

“Phase I began at the beginning of the year when all of these organizations came together to develop the action plan,” she said. “It’s a priority of the foundation to help community partners ‘connect the dots’ of what they’re doing with other like-minded organizations so they can have greater impact. The Youth Collaborative is an important step to align their efforts to ensure youth in our community have every available resource they need as they grow into adults.”

The Harvest Foundation was created from the sale of Memorial Hospital in Martinsville in 2002. It researches and invests in programs and initiatives in health, education and community vitality.


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