Featured Fundraiser: Roxbury Youthworks
Roxbury Youthworks Inc. is a non-profit organization located in Roxbury, MA serving the troubled youth of the community. Focusing on those within the justice or welfare system, the organization tries to help these individuals successfully transfer into adulthood after lives of violence, poverty, and victimization.
Fundraise.com spoke with Celenia from Roxbury Youthworks Inc. over email to find out more about how they got started and what keeps them going.
How did Roxbury Youthworks Inc. get its start?
Roxbury Youthworks Inc. is one of the oldest minority-based organizations in the City of Boston. Conceptualized and then initiated by Justice Julian T. Houston in 1981, RYI first helped decrease recidivism among young men and women from the Roxbury District Court.
What motivates you in your fundraising efforts?
I am motivated to raise funds for RYI because the youth of Boston are in dire need of support. Their lives are gravely impacted by disparities in health, education, crime, and income that stem from the racial divides that exist in Metro Boston as documented below:
Boston’s income inequality has a strong racial/ethnic component. More than one third of families of color had annual incomes of less than $25,000—while almost half of Boston’s white families had annual incomes of $100,000 or more. With 42% of its children in poverty, the Roxbury /Dorchester/Mattapan area represents Massachusetts’ largest concentration of child poverty. In the Roxbury/Dorchester/Mattapan corridor, 85% of families are headed by a single parent, mainly mothers, & at least 20% of the adults have no high school diploma.”
Additionally, though only about a quarter of Boston’s population is Black, Blacks accounted for over half of all arrests made in 2008. Also, over 50% of all arrests for violent crimes in Boston in 2008 were in the Roxbury/Mattapan/Dorchester neighborhoods. In 2010, over 50% of aggravated assaults & over 75% of homicides in Boston took place in the Roxbury/Mattapan/Dorchester districts.
According to the Mayor’s Task Force and the Boston Public Health’s Commission’s 2005 Blueprint: A Plan to Eliminate Racial & Ethnic Disparities in Health report, lead poisoning & asthma are concentrated in the Boston neighborhoods that are predominantly communities of color: including Dorchester, Mattapan, & Roxbury. Sadly, the death rate from all causes is 30% higher in the poor neighborhoods of Boston; residents are two & a half times as likely to die from diabetes, four times as likely to die of HIV/AIDS, & twice as likely to die from injuries. Alarmingly, of the 22 waste sites in Boston, half are in the predominantly Black & Latino neighborhood of Roxbury.
In education the disparities are quite discouraging: On the 2007 Massachusetts comprehensive exam, 80 % of white BPS 8th grade students were proficient or advanced in reading, compared with only 48% of African American or Hispanic students. In math, 52% of white students were considered proficient or advanced, compared with 20% of Hispanic students & only 14% of African Americans.” The Boston Public Schools 2009-2010 Student Drop Out Rates report, found that 20.7% of the BPS class of ‘09 dropped out; which is one in five students and that Roxbury had the highest annual dropout rate among Boston neighborhoods.
What is your favorite part of working with Roxbury Youthworks Inc?
Seeing how dedicated our Staff is to our youth and the youth themselves.
Who benefits from your fundraising efforts?
Youth between the ages of 13 to 21 who live in the most economically depressed neighborhoods of Boston including; Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale, Hyde Park and Chelsea benefit from RYI’s fundraising efforts. Approximately 60% of our youth are Black, 25% are Latino/a, 12% are bi-racial or of other ethnicities, 2% are Caucasian and 1% are Asian and 15% are female and 85% are male. We operate three specialized programs that positively impact the youth that we serve as well as the communities in which they live and include:
District Offices (DOs): In collaboration with the Department of Youth Services (DYS) the RYI DO staff guide youth who are transitioning from DYS secure treatment facilities and residential placements back to their homes and communities. RYI staff utilize a proven and positive youth development approach to helping youth set life goals and to connect them with the resources that they need to meet their goals. The six DO centers are located in Dorchester, Roxbury, Chelsea, and Hyde Park and serve up to 150 youth per year. The success of this program depends upon five critical components: individualized service planning, consistent staff support, referrals to community resources, positive programming, and intensive supervision and monitoring.
Gaining Independence for Tomorrow (GIFT) Program: Since 2008, GIFT has served over 150 young girls that had been victimized or were deemed at high risk for commercial sexual exploitation. GIFT Program youth are between the ages of thirteen to twenty-two. Each youth is assigned a Life Coach who combines their professional skills with their often times first-hand knowledge of the neighborhoods, to provide the compassionate and intensive supports and referrals that the youth need throughout their recovery from commercial sexual exploitation. GIFT is funded by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and is located in Dorchester, MA.
Roxbury Dimock Street Lead Agency - RYI manages services for youth and families involved with the Department of Children and Families, (DCF). We work closely with DCF to facilitate and monitor supportive stabilization and placement services to 250 youth and their families per year.
What advice do you have for aspiring fundraisers?
To stay creative and fresh.
What goals are you trying to reach by fundraising?
We need to raise at least $150,000 per in order to make sure that all of our programs are fully funded.
For more on Roxbury Youthworks Inc. and their community outreach please visit: Online Supportive Fundraising