1. Unrestricted Funds: Solar Youth relies on the contributions of FOSY (Friends of Solar Youth) to run its programs. We raise our budget from $0 each year and maintain minimal reserves. Please support Solar Youth!
2. Business Sponsorships: The support of local businesses provides a huge boost to Solar Youth's work. There are many sponsorship opportunities available, including events, trips and Community Service Action Projects (C-SAPs). And we have many positive experiences working in partnership with local businesses - in fact, Solar Youth and Start Community Bank were awarded the 2012 Nonprofit Partnership Award by the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce. We would be thrilled to promote businesses that support our youth!
3. Community Support: Our kids are always thrilled to receive positive messages from New Haven community members. Please take a moment to visit our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/solaryouth) to learn about the great work our youth are doing and leave some words of encouragement while you're there!!
While a single season of Solar Youth is certainly a positive experience, it is unlikely to have the life-changing impact that we seek. To achieve that type of impact, we know that our Stewards must participate in Solar Youth programs season after season, year after year.
That is why we created the Cycle of Stewardship. By providing Stewards the opportunity to be part of Solar Youth from as young as age four all the way to high school graduation and beyond, we can offer the emotional, motivational and strategic support youth need to nurture within themselves the confidence, leadership abilities and problem-solving skills required to be successful in life.
We rely on partners to help us — from Clifford Beers Clinic’s mental health services, to Community Mediation’s trainings on nonviolent communication, to Start Community Bank’s Intern workshops on financial management. We are so grateful for their partnership.
Our ultimate goal is for Solar Youth to become one safe, loving, positive place that is woven into the fabric of each of our young people's often chaotic lives.
My name is Joe DeNicola and I have served on Solar Youth’s board of directors since 2007. I have served as board chair since 2011.
Prior to joining the board, I had reconnected with Joanne, a Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies classmate, to explore how I might help with Solar Youth outdoor programming. At the time, I had recently concluded several board assignments and had no interest in joining the board of another non-profit. As I learned more about the Solar Youth programs and their positive impact on the lives of the most disadvantaged New Haven youth, however, my perspective changed. In particular, I was impressed by the relationships established with the youth, and the potential presented for effecting positive change. These relationships are the result of the hard work and dedication of the staff, but also, very importantly, of a core concept behind Solar Youth – the maintenance of a consistent neighborhood presence. This is a tremendously powerful model. When an offer to join the board was eventually made, I readily accepted.
There is a common misconception that Solar Youth is simply an environmental education organization. What I have come to understand since serving on its board is that Solar Youth is much more than that. I’ve listened to parents, community members and youth themselves describe Solar Youth’s impact on their lives, and a picture emerges: that, through environmental exploration, leadership development activities and community service, Solar Youth’s kids have an opportunity, season after season and year after year, to truly grow up with a safe and caring place where they develop the character skills that matter most in life. After hearing these stories, the importance of our presence in the lives of some of New Haven’s most vulnerable young people is undeniable. Improving the environment, while important on its own, in the hands of Solar Youth educators becomes a vehicle for learning much broader life lessons.
And yet the challenges these young people face and need for these types of services in New Haven are so great, it is surprising and disappointing to me that there isn’t more public support for programs like Solar Youth. Solar Youth and its Board have identified programs expansion and refinements that will address many of these needs. I am convinced that if each child in New Haven had access to programs such as those offered and planned by Solar Youth, many more youth would see lifetime success and our entire community would be the beneficiary.
Select quotes/testimonials from 2011-2012:
“[Because of Solar Youth], I know I can clean the world. - Tabiaz Moore
“I learned that it is important to keep the environment clean because if we don’t, it can harm us and the animals.” - Zhane Simmons
“[Because of Solar Youth], I have a lot of friends.” - Cherish Burruss
“[Because of Solar Youth ,I am a better person and know more about my community.” - Talizha Jones
“[Because of Solar Youth], I’ve made new friends and gone new places.” - Jordan Wilson
“The hike up East Rock was the best day of my life! Solar Youth is the best after-school ever!” - Jaylin Davis
“[Because of Solar Youth], I love the Earth more.” - Rebecca Diaz
“[My favorite part of Solar Youth] was the first day I met my friends.” - Michael Manning
“[Because of Solar Youth], I'm a great, smart, outgoing young lady that can do anything I put my mind to.” - Jamesha Rumley
"[Because of Solar Youth], I get respect in my neighborhood.” - Royshon Ferguson
“[My favorite part of the program] is the staff. They understand me and they are always there when I need them. They make this season so much better. The staff motivated me and made me feel as part of the program.” - Nelson Adorno
“[My favorite part of the program] was getting to know the new interns and educators and developing better friendships with the ones I already knew.” - Kayla Sanders
“Solar Youth has helped me become a better person in school, home and in the community.” - Isa Hyatt
"[Because of Solar Youth], I have been able to influence people around me, like friends and family. I teach my sisters what I learn at work and try and get them to do the same things." - Andy Juarez
“I love this program for my children. It keeps them in a positive place and out of harm’s way. Thank you.”
“Since my child joined Solar Youth, he is more interactive with other children his age.”
“My child wants to heal the world, she likes to recycle and clean the yard, feed the birds, take out the trash, make bird feeders. She likes to sing songs, talk nicely about others and talks about the trips and the teachers and all the fun they have.”
“My child teaches me about bugs and cleaning up the community. He is learning about the city he lives in and how to keep it clean.”
“Since joining Solar Youth, my child has learned to get along with other kids and play together instead of by himself. He has also learned to share with other kids.”
“Since joining Solar Youth, my child is much happier.”
“My favorite part of Solar Youth was when we did the bake sale.”
“At Solar Youth, I learned we could be kind to people.”
“I’m so happy. I love being here.”
Educator: “What’s your favorite thing you’ve learned in Solar Youth this season?”Participant: “Everything!”
“I picked up trash and watered the plants.”
“My favorite trip was when we found a frog and we ate some marshmallows with crackers.”
“I liked the fire and marshmallow trip.”
“Because of Solar Youth I have become more responsible and more aware of the feelings of other people around me.”
“Because of Solar Youth I am a more mature person who cares about children and the environment and different ways I can learn and teach others.”
“Because of Solar Youth I’m a great, smart, outgoing young lady that can do anything I put my mind to.”
“In Solar Youth I learned more about the environment and I am more aware of my surroundings.”
1) Youth will better understanding best principles and practices of planning, implementation, and evaluation of Community Service Action Projects;
2) Youth will develop professional skills, such as timeliness, preparation skills, public speaking, personal financial management, work ethic and a commitment to excellence;
3) Youth will improve their physical health as a result of participation in outdoor adventures;
4) Youth will better understanding the issues and concepts affecting the environment;
5) Youth will increase their commitment to environmental stewardship; and
6) The neighborhoods where GJYD takes place will benefit as a result of the stewardship projects conducted by GJYD participants.
Green Jobs Parents:
“I think this program is good for teenagers and small children, they get to see new things and a new way of thinking.”
“Thank you for giving the opportunity to my child working with you in Solar Youth and helping others. God bless you.”
“[Martineesha] is more interested in planting flowers in our backyard and she tries to convince me to condition the backyard and go buy certain plants.”
Green Jobs Interns:
“I learned that helping is a better way to learn.”
“[Because of Solar Youth] I am a more responsible person. Also, it gave me a better experience managing my time skills.”
“[Because of Solar Youth] I got to have a fun job experience to be prepared for the real world.”
“I [would] not be a better student or person without Sam and Chisom, because they are good people and it made me a better person and worker.”
“[Because of Solar Youth] I learned to communicate.”
“[Because of Solar Youth] I have made new friends and have explored new places. I am a little more social.”
“[Because of Solar Youth] I learned more about kind[ness] and [being] respectful to others.”
A sample of quotes and testimonials:
After stating that he was moving, Janoah was asked if that meant that he wouldn’t be in Solar Youth anymore. He said, “Of course not. I’ll do anything to be an LIT.”
“I want everyone to be safe. Even if I don’t like them, I want them to be happy and safe.” - Damaris, on why she wanted to choose Violence as a problem to tackle for her Team's Community Service Action Project.
During the Fall 2012 season, four youth have acted as Solar Youth ambassadors and spoken in front of groups of 40 people or more.
Attendance during the Fall 2012 season has been consistently at 90% or higher.
“I love all of the staff! Young and old they are friendly and fun."
“Alexandra is excited about learning and doing and taking an active part in a group."
"It means a lot to have a camp with such high standards for campers and staff. You will always be one of my first choices in camps."
"I love the variety of daily events that take place, as well as the building of social skills during times where the campers work as a team."
[Because of Solar Youth] “I’m a better person."
[From doing my C-SAP I learned] “That the earth is valuable."
[Because of Solar Youth] “I want to take more leadership and I enjoy learning."
“I am a happy kid!"
“The most valuable part of the internship was learning different ways of behavior management. Once this skill is acquired and you have patience, everything can be accomplished”
[From working at Solar Youth] “I learned how to communicate compassionately with the children instead of yelling. Also I learned new skills and how to interact with children of different ages.”
[My experience working as an intern with Solar Youth has] “made me realize my full potential as a person and an intern. Also it has made me more responsible and aware of peoples’ feelings.”
Joanne has a Bachelor's degree from Barnard College (1992), and a Master of Environmental Studies from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (1996). She is the recipient of Echoing Green Foundation Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship (1997-2000). She has also completed Advancing Youth Development training through New Haven's Youth Development and Training Resource Center (YDTRC). Joanne currently teaches a course in Youth Development at Southern Connecticut State University.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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.
Stewardship of our natural resources is essential if we wish to guarantee that present and future generations enjoy clean water, good air quality and open spaces. When you support organizations that protect the environment you address immediate need today while ensuring a greener tomorrow.
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