VIDEO: Montgomery County Conservation Corps profiled in local news segment


Montgomery County Conservation Corps profiled by Montgomery County Cable for their work helping local youth further their education and gain job skills. See the original video post here

2015 Project of the Year: SEEDS' GURLS Corps!

GURLS Corps!
(Girls United in Resilience, Leadership and Service)

SEEDS

 

SEEDS, host to a Youth Conservation Corps based in Traverse City, Michigan, has for several seasons partnered with Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan (CFS) – a 76-year-old organization that provides foster care, adoption services, counseling and advocacy programs to over 3,000 people annually. Coinciding with the 2014 season, the Biederman Foundation – a local family-support organization, stepped in to support the expansion of this partnership. At the time, seven of CFS’s eleven teens aging out of foster care were young women. Five of these young women formed GURLS Corps!; an all-girl program SEEDS created to offer job training, mentoring and education to young women who are aging out of the foster  care system, struggling to complete high school, and who may have additional risk factors that could hinder a successful transition into adulthood. 

Teens aging out of foster care face a variety of challenges as they learn how to support themselves and live independently. Approximately one in four will be incarcerated within the first two years after they leave the system and more than 20 percent will become homeless at some point after age 18. Additionally, only about 58 percent have a high school diploma by the age of 19, compared to 87 percent of non-foster youth. Young women exiting the foster care system arguably have it the hardest, as teenage girls are twice as likely as teen boys to develop adolescent depression and are much more likely to experience self-image issues.

GURLS Corps! – which stands for Girls United in Resilience, Leadership and Service – recruits young women from Elements; a CFS program that teaches independent living skills (like healthy eating, and driver’s ed) to foster youth ages 14 – 21. SEEDS has hosted all-girl crews in the past, but traditionally only 10 – 15 percent of their Corpsmembers are young women. However, having a girls-only program was important in order to address sensitive issues the young women face and avoid the sometimes complicated social pressures of a co-ed crew. As a result of more actively recruiting women, SEEDS increased their female enrollment to 41 percent.

GURLS Corps! members spent eight weeks developing green job skills through participating in a range of service projects, including taking lead responsibility of the SEEDS farm, constructing a boardwalk, building and maintaining trails and campgrounds, removing invasive species, and improving beaches. They also provided a service to the community by helping set up the 10th annual Traverse City Film Festival; a popular and highly acclaimed documentary festival founded by Michael Moore. These projects not only provided hands-on work experience, but also helped the girls develop a sense of civic pride. Additionally, the girls had the opportunity to work side-by-side with female mentors who have chosen careers in fields like agriculture, architecture, construction, biology, and land management. In exchange for their service, the teens received academic credit, a minimum wage income, and, for those 17 or older, AmeriCorps Education Award scholarships.  

"We are delighted by this recognition of our young women in foster care, who worked so hard and learned so much with SEEDS this summer,” said Jim Sherrer, CEO of CFS. “We know how special our youth are, and now many more around the nation will know, too.  Our partnership with SEEDS is one of which we are very proud, and we congratulate them on this award."

All five of the young women in GURLS Corps! successfully completed the program, earning resume-building credentials and vital soft skills. One of the girls enrolled in community college, two are set to graduate high school in May 2015, and the remaining two will start their senior year in September 2015. This is especially inspiring considering the instability and, in some cases, abuse and addiction the girls faced throughout their adolescence.

“The impact of the program on our young women participants was striking,” said Bill Watson, SEEDS Director of Youth Programs, “They learned about their own strengths and that they were not alone…They supported one another and shared the stories that led to their placement in foster care. They worked hard at the job of being a Corpsmember, but at the same time they worked hard at overcoming their individual challenges and at being survivors.”

Signature Program of The Corps Network Expands

Federal partnerships tap talent of even more American youth through The Corps Network’s AmeriCorps Opportunity Youth Service Initiative

The Corps Network Receives National AmeriCorps Grants

AmeriCorps members of Kupu's Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps at work. 

Opportunity Youth Service Initiative

Who are Opportunity Youth?

The Corps Network Attends First Covening of the Opportunity Youth Network

Earlier this week, Mary Ellen Ardouny and Tyler Wilson of The Corps Network attended the first in-person convening of the Opportunity Youth Network in Maryland.

OYN was launched in early 2013 to bring together representatives of organizations working to reconnect opportunity youth in America (youth ages 16-24 who are not in school and are not working). A group of about 80 representatives from the nonprofit sector, the private sector, government, education, and youth-led organizations – all of whom work at the national level – currently participate in OYN. 

The goal of the meeting was to continue laying the framework for collaboration among all groups, and harness a collective impact without creating new initiatives. Members of The National Council of Young Leaders, including Corps Network Representatives Philan Tree and JR Daniels also attended the meeting and provided an essential voice for youth in the strategic planning process and working groups. The Council has already published a report of Recommendations to Increase Opportunity and Decrease Poverty in America.

Members of the National Council of Young Leaders speak at the Opportunity Youth Network convening.

The Corps Network Attends First Covening of the Opportunity Youth Network

Earlier this week, Mary Ellen Ardouny and Tyler Wilson of The Corps Network attended the first in-person convening of the Opportunity Youth Network in Maryland.

OYN was launched in early 2013 to bring together representatives of organizations working to reconnect opportunity youth in America (youth ages 16-24 who are not in school and are not working). A group of about 80 representatives from the nonprofit sector, the private sector, government, education, and youth-led organizations – all of whom work at the national level – currently participate in OYN. 

The goal of the meeting was to continue laying the framework for collaboration among all groups, and harness a collective impact without creating new initiatives. Members of The National Council of Young Leaders, including Corps Network Representatives Philan Tree and JR Daniels also attended the meeting and provided an essential voice for youth in the strategic planning process and working groups. The Council has already published a report of Recommendations to Increase Opportunity and Decrease Poverty in America.

Members of the National Council of Young Leaders speak at the Opportunity Youth Network convening.

The Corps Network Attends First Covening of the Opportunity Youth Network

Earlier this week, Mary Ellen Ardouny and Tyler Wilson of The Corps Network attended the first in-person convening of the Opportunity Youth Network in Maryland.

OYN was launched in early 2013 to bring together representatives of organizations working to reconnect opportunity youth in America (youth ages 16-24 who are not in school and are not working). A group of about 80 representatives from the nonprofit sector, the private sector, government, education, and youth-led organizations – all of whom work at the national level – currently participate in OYN. 

The goal of the meeting was to continue laying the framework for collaboration among all groups, and harness a collective impact without creating new initiatives. Members of The National Council of Young Leaders, including Corps Network Representatives Philan Tree and JR Daniels also attended the meeting and provided an essential voice for youth in the strategic planning process and working groups. The Council has already published a report of Recommendations to Increase Opportunity and Decrease Poverty in America.

Members of the National Council of Young Leaders speak at the Opportunity Youth Network convening.

The Corps Network and The Corporation for National and Community Service Launching New Opportunity Youth Service Initiative

In their own words: Members of the National Council of Young Leaders Discuss their Recommendations for Public Action


Members of the National Council of Young Leaders meet with Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education
 

Created in July 2012 in response to a recommendation from the White House Council on Community Solutions, the National Council of Young Leaders is tasked with informing policymakers, business leaders and funders about the issues faced by America’s young people. The 14 founding council members, ranging in age from 18 to 34, come from diverse upbringings in urban and rural low-income communities across the nation. They represent our country’s Opportunity Youth: the 6.7 million young Americans who are neither in school nor working, but who pose enormous potential for our economy and our future if they are provided the opportunity to get on track and get ahead. Though each council member has overcome different kinds of obstacles, they all share in common their participation in transformative youth programs that helped them become the successful young adults they are today.

In the fall of 2012, the Council released its first publication - Recommendations to Increase Opportunity and Decrease Poverty in America. The report outlines specific actions that could help Opportunity Youth and their communities. One of highlights of the publication is the Council’s Six Recommendations for Immediate Public Action, which are as follows:

1) Expand effective comprehensive programs
2) Expand National Service
3) Expand Private Internships
4) Increase All Forms of Mentoring
5) Protect and Expand Pathways to Higher Education
6) Reform the Criminal Justice System

We wanted to hear the Council Members describe in their own words why these specific Recommendations are important to them and important to the success of America’s young people.

 


 
Read why Recommendation #4 - Increase All Forms of Mentoring - is important to Council Member Francisco Garcia 
Read why Recommendation #5 - Protect and Expand Pathways to Higher Education - is important to Council Member Adam Strong 
Read why Recommendation #3 - Expand Private Internships - is important to Council Member Philan Tree
Read why Recommendation #6 - Reform the Criminal Justice System - is important to Council Member Christopher Prado
Read why Recommendation #4 - Increase All Forms of Mentoring - is important to Council Member Ramean Clowney
Read why Recommendation #4 - Increase All Forms of Mentoring - is important to Council Member Shawnice Jackson
   
   
   
   
   

 

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