Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Inc.


Organization Profile: Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Inc. (PYD) is a nonprofit community-based organization established in 1985. PYD has been providing mentoring services to youth with disabilities in Massachusetts for over 20 years as its core mission. PYD has, in recent years, broadened its focus to launch a national campaign. PYD promotes mentoring through its National Disability Mentoring Council. It operates programs throughout the greater Boston area, in Western Massachusetts, and in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Through its National Center for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities, PYD provides technical assistance and training on a national level to organizations interested in developing mentoring programs for people with disabilities. A 145 page guide (available on PYD’s web site) includes best practices and strategies for mentoring youth with disabilities, and program development and evaluation assistance.

Program Summary: During the first year of the project, PYD created the National Disability Mentoring Council. By the end of the project, it had grown to a 40-member body comprised of individuals from across the country representing program providers, funders, business leaders, and government. The Council met on a quarterly basis and over the three-year period met a total of 12 times. It discussed and provided input into all aspects of the project including funding, Disability Mentoring Day, National Mentoring Month, best practices, and safety of mentorees. A sub-committee of the Council played an instrumental role in planning the National Conference. The National Council continues to operate beyond the life of the project.

PYD selected its sub-awardees through an RFP process. During the first year, the following five organizations were selected to participate in the mentoring project:

• Computer Technologies Program from California, an adult-to-youth electronic mentoring program that planned to serve 7 youth;
• DC Public Charter, an adult-to-youth group and electronic mentoring program that planned to serve 24 youth;
• Emmanuel Gospel Center, an adult-to-youth group mentoring program that planned to serve 50 youth;
• Lake County Center for Independent Living in Mundelein, Illinois, a one-on-one mentoring program that planned to serve 10 youth; and
• North County Center for Independent Living, in Plattsburgh, New York, an adult-to-youth group mentoring program that planned to serve 10 youth.

Two new organizations were selected in the second year: *Holly Community, Inc., Salisbury, MD, which focused on transition and proposed to use a variety of mentoring techniques, including one-on-one, peer and group mentoring; and *Mayors Youth Empowerment Program, Iowa City, IA, which incorporated mentoring into its existing Teen Place program.

During the third year of the project, PYD refunded five of the six sub-awardees for 2006 activities. One of the sub-awardees, DC Public Charter School, chose not to reapply.

Throughout the project period, PYD provided technical assistance to each of its sub-awardees through regular phone calls and emails. Topics covered included grant requirements, reporting, background checks, and sustainability. It also provided in-person training on implementation to each of the seven sub-awardees. PYD sub-awardees were provided with tools and assistance on evaluation and received copies of the mentoring guide. Sub-awardees also had access to the resources available on the PYD web site.

In September 2005, PYD developed and published a mentoring guide, titled “Aspire, Achieve, Empower – Best Practices for Youth with Disabilities.” Resources for this guide came from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) grant, as well as from a Technology Opportunity Program grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, and from a grant from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. The MCJ Foundation, the Millbank Foundation for Rehabilitation, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, and Benjamin Smith Printing provided other funding and support. The guide contains step-by-step instructions for implementing a mentoring program along with best practices, models, evaluation techniques, and resources. The guide was disseminated to over 1,000 individuals electronically and through the printed version. Sub-awardees and attendees at the National Conference received hard copy versions. It is available on the PYD web site and continues to be disseminated through the web site.

From September 13 –15, 2006, PYD hosted the first National Conference on Mentoring for Youth with Disabilities in Boston, Massachusetts. Over 260 individuals attended the conference, including representatives from government, community organizations, faith-based organizations, youth with disabilities, and parents. On the first day of the conference, PYD hosted the Leadership Symposium. Over 50 leaders attended the four-hour symposium and discussed issues related to mentoring for youth with disabilities. Following the symposium, a “White Paper” was published that documented the discussions, identified issues relating to providing inclusive mentoring and providing possible solutions, reviewed current resources. and provided a summary of implications for transition to employment. This “White Paper” was disseminated electronically to 200 organizations, government representatives, and members of the National Disability Mentoring Council.

In January 2006, PYD launched the National Center for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities, a legacy from this project. The Center is intended to serve as a hub of best practices information, training, and technical assistance. Since its inception, the Center has provided training and technical assistance to a variety of organizations, including Disabled Sports USA, Copper County Intermediary School District, and the Maine Mentoring Partnership. (See for more information.)

PYD worked with an extensive list of key collaborators throughout this project. One key partnership formed under this project was with the Harvard Mentoring Project. In 2002, the Harvard Mentoring Project launched an effort to solidify the national commitment to mentoring. Along with other organizations, it established the month of January as National Mentoring Month. The Harvard project spearheaded a national media campaign to promote the growth of mentoring. As of late 2005, the campaign received over $150 million in donated television air time and generated more than 700,000 phone calls from people seeking information on mentoring. In the fall of 2005, PYD and the Harvard Mentoring Project received funding to develop and pilot curricula to improve the successful inclusion of youth with disabilities in mentoring programs throughout Massachusetts that serve non-disabled youth.

Program Structure/Design: PYD was one of 6 organizations to receive funding in 2003 from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) for its Intermediary Grants for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities initiative. The purpose of these demonstration projects was to build the capacity of very small faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs) to provide effective mentoring services to young people with disabilities through the use of intermediary organizations. FBCOS sub-award recipients had to meet the following criteria:

1. Have social services as a major part of their mission;
2. Be headquartered in the local community to which they provided services;
3. Have a total annual operated budget of $300,000 or less, or
4. Have 6 or fewer full-time equivalent employees.

For this project, PYD’s goal was to assist faith-based and community organizations in establishing, building, and sustaining mentoring programs. The following activities were planned to achieve the goal:

• Develop a National Disability Mentoring Council to promote mentoring for youth with disabilities across the nation and to advise on the project;
• Provide funding (for over five years) to at least 25 faith-based and community organizations to develop mentoring programs, with awards ranging from $5,000-$25,000;
• Provide technical assistance to faith-based and community organizations in the areas of program development, mentor recruitment, mentor screening, training of youth and mentors, leadership development and employment;
• Provide access to scientific evaluation instruments developed by PYD and assist with adapting the evaluation tools to meet the sub-awardees’ needs;
• Facilitate partnerships with independent living centers, vocational rehabilitation agencies, Workforce Investment Boards, One-Stop Career Centers, and employers to create internships, job shadowing, employment opportunities, and career skills training for youth with disabilities; and
• Develop a Best Practices Guides for mentoring youth with disabilities that will be disseminated throughout the country.

PYD also set a goal of providing 60 youth with disabilities with one-on-one mentoring experiences and at least 900 youth participating in 120-group mentoring programs. This goal was proposed for a five-year grant period.

States of Operation: MA
ODEP Funded: Yes
Profile Year: 2009


Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences: PYD and its sub-awardees undertook a variety of activities to engage employers. These recruitment efforts were directed at soliciting employer support for the program, to provide job shadowing and internship opportunities, and to recruit mentors. PYD actively recruited employers to become members of their National Disability Mentoring Council. As a result, three employers are represented on the Council—Mitsubishi Electric, Compaq Business Operations, and Massachusetts General Hospital. PYD has sought employer involvement in their National Conference. Outreach was conducted to over 500 employers through email, mailings, and phone calls in order to inform them of the conference and ways in which they could be involved.

Highlights of sub-awardee activities are:

• The Executive Director of the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program was a member of the Iowa Workforce Board’s Youth Council through which she disseminated program information. A partnership with Lammers Construction provided job shadowing and job experiences for youth.
• Holy Community provided 22 youth at five employment sites with the opportunity to participate in National Mentoring Day. It developed a partnership with the Eastern Shore Business Leaders Network to share resources and network.
• Lake County Center for Independent Living provided job shadowing experiences for youth with local employers, such as Harley Davison Motorcycle Center and the local Animal Shelter.
• Emmanuel Gospel Center contacted employers in person and by phone. They created an “Employment and Education Referral Guide” that they update weekly and give to mentees so that they will have information on area employers.

Computer Technologies Program, funded for only the first year of the project was founded in 1975 by IBM, the California State Department of Rehabilitation, and the Center for Independent Living in Berkley to promote training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the fields of computer technologies. The mentoring program, which was also supported by the Mitsubishi Electronic America Foundation matched 10 CTP graduates as mentors with 10 youth with disabilities. Youth were provided with adult role models and with career guidance around technology fields.

Youth Development and Leadership: PYD’s six sub awardees provided mentoring opportunities for youth with disabilities. The DC Public Charter Cooperative, Washington, DC, funded for the first two years of the project, was a school-based pilot that matched caring adult mentors with “apprentices” with disabilities. The mentors were working professionals willing to provide approximately 3 to 5 hours per month of their time to two young people via face-to-face interaction in a group setting. The Computer Technologies program used former program graduates to serve as mentors. Youth were provided with adult role models and with career guidance around technology fields. The Emmanuel Gospel Center of Boston worked with homeless youth with hidden disabilities. Through the support of volunteer mentors, life skills workshops and arts activities, youth were assisted in overcoming risky behavior and past difficulties and assisted with accessing education, employment opportunities, and finding stable housing. One grantee, Holly Community, served rural youth and connected them to adult roles models with disabilities through one-on-one, peer, and group mentoring.

Two of the sub awardees enhanced their existing programming by adding mentoring components. The Mayor’s Youth Empowerment Program added a mentoring component to the existing Teen Place Program called MY Pal. The entire program was designed to empower youth with disabilities, teach them self-advocacy skills, build leadership skills, create health and safer connections with other youth, provide positive adult role models from the community, and expand education and vocational interests and experiences. Lake County Center for Independent Living created a mentoring program, called Connections for Youth with Disabilities, as an extension of the organization’s existing Youth Employment Readiness and Youth Leadership Program. Youth with disabilities were paired with adult mentors who have similar disabilities with the goal of helping youth increase their sense of possibility, improve independent living skills, increase self-confidence, and set goals for education, employment, and transition to adulthood.

Connecting Activities: The Emmanuel Gospel Center. Boston, MA, funded for the entire three-year period of the project helped homeless youth with hidden disabilities (including mental health issues) succeed in employment and education. Through the support of volunteer mentors, life skills workshops, arts activities, the assistance of the education and employment mentoring coordinator and case management services, youth were assisted in overcoming risky behavior and past difficulties and assisted with accessing education, employment opportunities and finding stable housing.


Systems Change: PYD is sustaining its National Disability Mentoring Initiative through its National Center for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities, which it launched in January of 2006. The Center continues to offer training and technical assistance to organizations and provide resources and publication regarding the inclusion and mentoring of youth with disabilities. The National Disability Council continues to meet quarterly and there are plans to continue to grow the Council. ******Five of the sub-awardees were expected to continue their mentoring efforts after funding ended, in at least some form: *The Mayor’s Youth Empowerment program planned to sustain their project at a significantly reduced level. While they have been successful in securing in-kind support, they have faced difficulties in raising funds to cover staff salaries. *The North Country Center for Independent Living made mentoring a key part of their programming. They received two substantial grants from their State Education Department and their Developmental Disabilities Council which enabled them to expand their transition program, including the mentoring component. The mentoring component was merged with a larger transition program and thus continues in two public high schools. *Emmanuel Gospel Center is continuing to provide mentoring as a component of their street outreach to homeless youth with disabilities. In addition, they launched an arts mentoring initiative and have been recruiting and training volunteers for the project. *Lake County Center for Independence received funds from the United Way to continue their program in 2007, and also continues to receive support from the State for all their program activities. *Holly Community Center has incorporated mentoring into their existing vocational programs.

Data: PYD, over a three-year grant period, substantially achieved its goals for a project that was planned to operate over a five-year period. PYD worked with seven community and faith-based organizations to assist them in implementing mentoring programs for youth with disabilities. PYD created a National Disability Mentoring Initiative, formed the National Disability Mentoring Council, developed and published a best practices guide, and sponsored the first National Conference for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities.

PYD has sustained its National Disability Mentoring Initiative through its National Center for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities, which it launched in January of 2006. The Center continues to offer training and technical assistance to organizations and provide resources and publication regarding the inclusion and mentoring of youth with disabilities. The National Disability Council continues to meet quarterly. In addition, five of the sub-awardees continued their mentoring efforts in at least some form after the funding ended.

PYD exceeded the goal for its sub-awardees of serving a total of 180 youth in mentoring programs. Over the three-year period, sub-awardees served a total of 715 youth. The majority of the youth were served in group mentoring settings, although 150 youth had one-on-one mentors.
For FY 2006, participant data reflected the following:

Total 239
16-18 132
19-21 46
22-24 53
Male 129
Female 109
White 155
Black 48
Hispanic 23

Tutoring 20
Soft Skill Development 42
Career Goals 67
Job Shadowing 12
One-Stop 59
Job Search 35

Returned to School 1
Stayed in School 18
Advanced Grade 29
Graduated High School 9
Entered Post-Secondary 21
Full-time Job 12
Part-time Job 7
Part-time Intern 3

Organization Name: Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Inc.
Organization Director: Regina Snowden
Program Name: Massachusetts Mentoring Project
Street Address: 95 Berkeley Street, Suite 109
City: Boston
State: MA

Contact Person: Regina Snowden
Contact Title: Project Coordinator
Contact E-mail: