Chauncy R Williams, Rodney Walker – Young of Destiny
The initial reason behind starting the project Young Men of Destiny was to address the rise of violence in our community. Excessive fighting, assault, carrying of weapons, gang related activity, bullying, and suicide can be linked to students as young as eight years of age. The increase of young men going to youth detention centers or prison, created an uproar of concern among local organizations. In order to help our young men, we wanted to implement programs that helped increase school retention. Our goal is to motivate our youth to stay in school and complete their education. One of the ways in which our project address this issue is helping students realize their passion in order to begin thinking about their future. If students begin thinking about what they want to accomplish in life, we can tailor their educational experiences to meet their goals. Students will be more inclined to stay in school and complete their education if they have something worth working toward.
Our youth are expected to be equipped with skills that are not necessarily learned though formal or traditional learning strategies. The question becomes how can we provide an adequate education that is academically, socially, and professionally sufficient. Young Men of Destiny wants to integrate higher level thinking with regards to future aspirations by allowing youth to begin understanding their strengths and using their passion to create a successful life. We want students to start planning for the future by helping them realize and develop skills that are conducive to our ever changing world.
The issues that youth in my community face are relatable to myself and other mentors within Young Men of Destiny. Mentors have firsthand knowledge in dealing with these issues because they too have gone through similar experiences. Our mentors seek to help young men who are hesitant, afraid, or have doubt about their abilities begin to realize their capabilities. Our project has become and an outlet for our young men by showing them they can go beyond their current circumstances and become successful. Because many of our mentors have similar upbringings of the youth we help, we want to provide them with opportunities that will help them succeeded. We want our youth to know if they dedicate themselves to their future, they can overcome their obstacle. Being the bridge that connects youth to their goals and passions is why Young Men of Destiny have become an integral part within our community.
The initial grant provided our organization the funding to complete several extensive assessments within our community. Before we received the initial funding our team completed several needs analysis, however we quickly realized we needed much more in-depth. information. In trying to discover the particular needs of our community, Young Men of Destiny along with other volunteers assessed the current and long term needs by using community events, outreach to local churches, extensive door to door campaigning, and assessments. Young Men of Destiny determined what the people of Muskegon need and want from a community driven organization. Based off those needs we wanted to create a project that catered toward young men in community. There were very few programs that dealt directly with males and the particular struggles of young men. There appeared to be an outcry for guidance and motivation from the community concerning the increasing rate of males straying away from education and leaning toward a life violence. Funding has allowed are project to create programs that filled the gaps of resources that were missing in the community. We really wanted to implement specific projects that directly touched on the needs of the community. In order to complete this task, we had to first have full understanding of the community and what was actually needed. Funding allowed our staff to educate ourselves in order to target the issues within our community.
Continued support from grant agencies have allowed out project to create community driven projects that seek to invest in the development of young men. We provide programs and resources in order for participants to obtain higher education and use their knowledge for improving their communities. Targeting youth who may experience unfortunate setbacks in life, and show them even through adversity success is still obtainable are the goals of the project. Through funding Young Men of Destiny has been able to cultivate our youth through collaboration with Muskegon County agencies and through community involvement. The social aspect or our services connect youth and their families with various programs that help create a functional family unit. We implement resources that help stabilize the lives of our students and their families by providing the necessary tools to stop repeating of certain cycles. The support our project receives allows us to involve the parents of our youth and also provide the entire family with resources.
We invited eligible grantees to apply for up to $5,000 in Impact Grants which will allow them to apply their creativity and ingenuity to grow their projects to greater heights.
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