In 1976, the Mayor and staff of the City of New Haven met with leaders of youth-serving programs in New Haven to address concerns about how youth would fare during the idle summer months and increase the availability of summer programming. After the initial meeting, leaders reached out to additional community-based organizations and weekly meetings were organized to plan summer activities, expand playgrounds, run summer camp programs and urge for more funding for youth development. In the 1970s and 1980s, a free school breakfast program was started as well as a summer feeding program for youth, and funding for youth-serving programs to hire school buses for summer field trips. Securing funds for summer jobs for youth was a huge accomplishment in New Haven. CWYC disseminated funds to youth-serving organizations to community-based organizations to employ youth. In the 1990s and 2000s, CWYC focused on coalition-building activities. In March 1992, Citywide Youth Coalition incorporated to secure youth services funds and support coalition-building within the community around the needs of youth. In 1993, the Youth Development Training and Resource Center was founded in partnership with The Consultation Center and CWYC. In September 1994, CWYC was designated as a 501(c)3 private nonprofit corporation. CWYC has worked to expand the capacity of youth-serving organizations with training opportunities, networking and advocacy.
· CCWYC has expanded youth voice, youth decision-making and leadership in the youth sector and community in the past year. Key accomplishments of CWYC in 2014 include: An active social media network, including a Google listserv with 538 members and an average of 85 posts/month in addition to a newsletter reaching 1,886 members and partners, an attendance of 150 youth at CWYC's Annual Youth Summit, out of which arose plans to advocate for student representation on the Board of Education, a youth jobs campaign, and increased attention to youth violence prevention, and achieving student BoE representation, including the successful petition drive that garnered over 600 signatures. In 2015, CWYC is working on expanding collaboration and partnership, increase youth voice through a Youth on Board program, a leadership program and a media component, and strengthen advocacy efforts. CWYC has embarked on a capacity building initiative at the conclusion of a strategic planning process; this includes providing new training opportunities at coalition meetings, supporting Executive Directors as a group, and expanding the opportunities for youth leadership within the organization.
As a member of the New Haven youth-serving community, I have firsthand experience of the benefits of CWYC. I came to New Haven in 2006, having worked in Hartford for six years. At that time, I had no contacts in youth work here in New Haven. I came to the Coalition, seeking connections and a network of like-minded professionals committed to making a difference for disadvantaged children and youth in New Haven. As a result of the connections I made at monthly Coalition meetings and subcommittee, I not only significantly increased the number of long-term partnerships that my agency, Easter Seals Goodwill Industries had established, but I garnered more than $300,000 worth of private grants and state contracts that lead to increased resources benefiting New Haven youth and their families.
What is great about the work of CWYC is that we are not trying to dictate the change within the community, but rather working to engage all stakeholders together around what we can all agree upon: all youth in our community can succeed. Our shared decision-making takes longer, but including diverse peoples and opinions makes our work so powerful.
Building relationships, partnerships and collaborations is central to the work and mission of CWYC including the City of New Haven Department of Youth Services, United Way Boost Initiative, New Haven Promise Roundtable, New Haven Collaborative, Local Interagency Service Team (LIST), Youth Development Training and Resource Center, New Haven Public Schools, CT After School Network, CT Association of Nonprofits and all our member and partner organizations. The CWYC staff serves on many community planning committees.
With all of these partnerships, it is critical that Citywide Youth Coalition serves as a clearinghouse for the many events and activities by entities that serve the non-profit sector broadly, and that serve aspects of the youth-service sector with a more specific focus. CWYC brokers these relationships. In all of our efforts, members and partners make the decisions about forward planning for the Coalition through monthly coalition meetings, surveys, event evaluations, and one-on-one conversations.
Monique Turner, Past President and current board member
Unlike any other board I’ve served on, that of CWYC’s is comprised of a body of dedicated members whose personal ambitions are completely aligned with that of the organization – the success of kids. At every turn and in every meeting, that’s where our minds go first; holding each other accountable for only the optimal outcomes for New Haven youth.
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When families, schools and communities take the view that children and youth are valued and respected assets to society, they necessarily support environments that nurture youth development. Children raised to embrace positive social values, to seek self-understanding, and to value their self-worth grow to become community-minded young adults with a sense of belonging and a belief in their resiliency. See how you can help our community's children grow into tomorrow's leaders.
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