With performance oversight hearing season going on it's been a while since we've posted anything on our blog! This week's post is by DCAYA's Outreach Assistant Korey Johnson who is new to advocacy work in DC.
Last week, DCAYA hosted a community breakfast for community based organizations (CBOS) that serve children and youth in Wards 7 and 8.This event was one of my first experiences with community providers from east of the river and it was brilliant seeing organizations meet each other and DCAYA for the first time. It was tremendously humbling to experience the utmost dedication and passion that community providers from east of the river have for the District’s children and youth. Staff from the over 20 organizations in attendance not only had a sympathetic understanding of the challenges the young people of Wards 7 and 8 experience while navigating the transition to adulthood but also the different obstacles young people face in general.
Prior to coming on at DCAYA, I knew that Wards 7 and 8 suffered from a lack of economic development and that they were reknowned as one of the more dangerous areas of the city. What I didn’t realize was all the ways that social conditions like crime and unemployment had the capacity to negatively affect young people. A large proportion of the youth in these communities deal with child abuse and neglect, homelessness, and unemployment; these issues typically merge and create new obstacles that often produce worse circumstances. Consequentially, youth serving organizations that operate east of the river have a full plate when it comes to trying to lessen the burdens of children and youth.
After our initial meet and greet at last Friday’s breakfast we had a productive discussion about the central issues these organizations face when working with DC’s youth. Some of the most pressing issues included:
- · Lack of funding and complicated funding silos
- · Confusion over where to find best practices and pertinent new research
- · Lack of provider mobilization and collaboration
- · Confusion over how to communicate with the philanthropic community
Interestingly, none of the organizations had a shortage of program ideas or solution regarding their respective areas of expertise. Each CBO had clear plans of how they could best involve themselves in the lives of District youth and assist young people in becoming healthy and productive adults. Instead, the issues that were identified as a major challenges for CBOs revolved around funding, sustainability and a lack of connectivity with each other as well as community resources.
DCAYA started its outreach east of the river with the goal of hosting multiple convenings that focused on the self-identified issues that these providers face. Using the feedback received at our first event, we’re actively working on setting up another opportunity for organizations from Wards 7 and 8 to better network and collaborate as well as learn a bit more about some of the best practices going on in children’s and youth programming.
If staff from your organization would like to attend the upcoming events or would like more information about DCAYA’s outreach efforts please contact me via email (Korey@ DC-AYA.org).