Organization Profile: The Coos Bay mentoring project, called Youth Empowerment Solutions (YES), was a program of the South Coast Business Employment Corporation (SCBEC). SCBEC is a private, non-profit corporation serving the people and businesses of the Southern Oregon Coast since 1982. It provides a wide array of services in the areas of employment and training, job placement, economic development, transportation assistance, and support services to high school seniors. SCBEC’s programming includes counseling, job training, mentoring, and work experience in efforts to foster positive youth development and provide alternatives to youth violence. It operates One-Stop Career Centers in Coos and Curry Counties, providing services to both job seekers and employers.
Program Summary: South Coast Business Employment Corporation (SCBEC) and its sub-awardees formed a number of partnerships with schools, public agencies, and other non-profit organizations through which they leveraged services and resources, often in the form of assistance with recruitment and the providing of other services to youth participants. Among the nine school partners were the Coos Bay School District, the North Bend School District, Coquille School District, and the Brandon School District. Other partners included the Youth Transition Programs, Coquille Ministerial Association, Disability Services Advisory Council, Coos and Curry County Juvenile Justice, the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps, KCBY TV, and the World Newspaper.
Within the first year of the project, SCBEC recruited and entered into contracts with organizations to recruit mentors and match them with youth with disabilities. The five participating organizations were the Coquille Praise Center, the Bridges Advocacy, South Coast Community Resource Center – Curry (Curry Prevention Services – Curry), South Coast Community Resource Center – Coos Bay (Curry Prevention Services – Coos Bay), and the South Coast Independent Living Services. All of the organizations, except Curry Prevention Services – Coos Bay, continued throughout the three years of the project. Curry Prevention Services – Coos Bay participated in the first two years during which it provided technical assistance to the other organizations.
Throughout the project, SCBEC provided support, technical assistance, and a small amount of funding to each of the five organizations. Perhaps its biggest contributions were around bringing the five organizations together to operate under a common identity and to provide assistance with outreach and marketing.
One of the early challenges that the project faced was a lack of trust among the mentoring organizations. They viewed each other as competitors rather than collaborators. SCBEC in its intermediary role was proactive in bringing the organizations together and overcoming their initial mistrust. In September of 2004, SCBEC procured training services from Easter Seals of Portland for the coordinators from the mentor organizations, along with other SCBEC staff. Initially the training was around marketing individuals with disabilities to employers. However, the training was redirected to addressing the needs of the group and assisting them to work through the issues that were preventing these organizations from working together. A follow-up training session was held later in 2004.
Under the guidance of the Easter Seals trainer, the mentor organizations worked together to devise a shared identity for the project. The result was the development of the YES (Youth Empowerment Solutions) logo. Each of the participating organizations changed their letterheads and brochures to reflect this new identify.
Under the leadership of SCBEC, the mentoring organizations launched an extensive public outreach effort. The common identity and logo (YES) was used for promotional and outreach materials. They purchased buttons that were given to mentors and mentees. As an example, one of the buttons said, “YES, I love to mentor, ask me why.” Disseminated materials included brochures, bookmarks, mentor training materials, and mentee and mentor applications.
Several of the local newspapers continually ran public service announcements about the project. There were newspaper articles about the program in at least two local papers, the World and the Curry Pilot. The World Newspaper did a front page article featuring a YES mentee and mentor. The local TV station, KCBY, came to all of the Coos celebrations and provided extensive coverage of the events. The grantees also used letters to the editors to disseminate information and to thank community leaders who helped with the project. A television commercial was broadcast in both Coos and Curry Counties. In Curry County the ad ran for three months and in Coos County it ran for six months. This commercial reached thousands of Coos and Curry residents.
One effective strategy was developing “champions” for the mentoring programs. Among these champions were public officials. Four local mayors agreed to participate. The mayors in the region coordinated recognition of mentoring efforts by passing proclamations in support of National Disability Mentoring Day. Community leaders participated in the filming of a public service announcement and in local newspaper advertisements.
The YES outreach campaign created a demand for mentoring in both counties beyond the targeted group of youth with disabilities. For example, the local Self Sufficiency Program, after hearing of the program, expressed interested in having mentors to assist adults transitioning to employment. This demand spread to other populations, such as younger youth, older youth with disabilities, and teen parents. As a result, YES expanded its goal to mentoring all vulnerable youth populations.
Throughout the project, SCBEC brought the mentor organizations together for training and for sharing of information and ideas through monthly mentor-coordinator-staff meetings. SCBEC used the specific strengths of its sub awardees to cross train all of the sites and insure uniform mentoring standards. One of the organizations had a long history of providing mentoring services. This organization is linked with the Oregon statewide mentoring efforts and took the lead in developing mentor/mentee training materials and training all sites. Other organizations had strong relationships with the educational system and have provided leadership in building the capacity of the sites to work with schools.
The five organizations worked together in recruiting volunteers to serve as mentors. The unified marketing strategy allowed potential mentors to enter at any location. The organizations agreed to divide the region geographically and refer potential mentees or mentors among the organizations based on both geography and the organization’s strengths. Over the life of this project, 150 mentees, ages 16 – 24, were matched with mentors. At the end of the project, each of the organizations committed to continuing their mentoring activities and had developed plans for sustaining their efforts.
Program Structure/Design: SCBEC 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
SCBEC served as the mentoring intermediary, providing support to five sub-awardees that recruited, trained, and matched mentors and mentees with an emphasis on career preparation. Four of the sub-awardees were community-based organizations and one was a faith-based organizations. These five organizations are located within two Oregon counties, Coos and Curry. The intent of the project was to use existing mentoring programs, one in Coos County and one in Curry County, to assist community-based and faith-based organizations in establishing mentoring programs that promoted career development for youth with disabilities. The existing programs committed to expanding their mentor/mentee matches by 30 percent and including older youth with disabilities.
The program goals were to:
1. provide 150 mentor/mentee matches over the five-year grant period;
2. insure that each mentee had at least one meaningful and appropriate education achievement or employment goal; and
3. increase the number of youth with disabilities who are employed.
States of Operation: OR
ODEP Funded: Yes
Profile Year: 2009
Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences: Participating mentees received a wide range of education and employment preparation related services. Among the services provided were tutoring, job seeking support, soft skill development, portfolio development and leadership development. Many youth received referrals to the local One-Stop Center to avail themselves of the services provided at the Center. Below are examples of the types of career development services provided by the mentoring organizations:
• South Coast Independent Living Center, which is co-located in the One-Stop, provided a menu of training activities for mentees where they could select from employment-related classes including: how to select a career, financial fitness, bike repair and maintenance, participation in Workforce Investment Act (WIA) summer programs, writing a resume, and visiting a One-Stop center.
• Bridges provided opportunity for youth to attain driver permits and licenses. Participating youth achieved a number of the goals that they proposed in the career plans that they wrote with the assistance of their mentors.
• The Coquille Praise Center partnered with other community and faith-based organizations to assist youth achieving their employment goals and in meeting youth supportive service needs, such as housing and mental health needs.
• South Coast Community Resource Center provided technical assistance to the mentors by putting together a network of employment related resources.
EVIDENCE OF SUCCESS (INFORMATION AND ANALYSIS)
Systems Change: SCBEC, a regional leader in workforce investment system and operator of a number of One-Stops in the region, discovered through the funding from this grant the benefits of mentoring youth in promoting career awareness and supporting WIA goals. One of the sub grantees was an independent living center that is now co-located at a One-Stop. This may be the only example of such co-location in the country.
The YES outreach campaign created a demand for mentoring in both counties beyond the targeted group of youth with disabilities. For example, the local Self Sufficiency Program, after hearing of the program, expressed interest in having mentors to assist adults transitioning to employment. This demand also spread to other populations, such as younger youth, older youth with disabilities, and teen parents. As a result, YES expanded its goal to mentoring all vulnerable youth populations.
Curry Prevention Services (CPS) is an established provider of mentoring services. Prior to this project its experience had been limited to mentoring younger children and middle school students without any focus on disability issues. This sub grant provided CPS with an opportunity to understand the significant challenges of developing effective mentoring programs for older youth and young adults. CPS’ experience taught them that serving this population is much more staff-intensive than mentoring programs for younger children. The lessons learned from serving youth with disabilities in this sub grant are being incorporated into all of the CPS mentoring initiatives.
Despite a rocky start, successful outreach and engagement occurred between a faith-based organization and a school. When Pastor Jim Settle of Coquille Praise Center first approached his local high school to offer mentoring to its students, the school was skeptical and reluctant. Mentoring had not worked out well at the school in the past (due to insufficient background checks), and the school was also wary of potential proselytizing. Over a few months, Pastor Settle worked with the school counselor to allay fears and build trust in YES. Not only did mentoring take root and flourish at this school, but it also expanded into the local middle school (as of January 31, 2007, 30 middle school students had requested YES mentors).
Partnerships with businesses led to contributions of services and funds. For example, many businesses in Gold Beach provided incentives and gifts for mentors. The Fred Meyer Corporation gave $1,500 to one of the sub-awardees, Bridges Advocacy and Outreach. The Ford Foundation provided a free grant writing workshop to sub grantees.
SCBEC leveraged Work Incentive Grant funds to develop a comprehensive information guide called “The Workbook on Disability Awareness.” All sub-awardees received copies for dissemination. The guide includes information on types of disabilities, community resources, and other employment related information.
A SCBEC staff member developed a mentor’s guide to help youth gain both life and employment skills. This guide also assists mentors in maintaining an employment focus.
Many of the youth also participated in other programs, such as WIA youth programs, TANF programs, and Youth Transitions Programs. The mentoring program, in the view of the program operators, supported youth’s successful participation in these other programs. But, it also provided support to the mentoring agencies in meeting the third goal of the project, which was to improve employment for youth with disabilities.
Each of the five sub-awardees committed to continuing their effective program elements that came out of this small grant:
• Bridges Advocacy and Outreach committed to form new relations and maintain the ones they had with other local agencies that target youth and adults. They planned to continue their community outreach activities, which included speaking with local groups and maintaining relations with the local Mayor’s Offices and state representatives. They planned to maintain statistics that could be used for grant applications and to continue their fund raising efforts.
• Coquille Praise Center committed to increase its volunteer resources and undertake new volunteer appreciation activities. They plan to continue their relationship with the other sub-awardees and use the common identify in their outreach efforts. They also planned to keep statistics to be used for grant applications and to continue their fund-raising efforts.
• South Coast Community Resource Center (which is two-sub awardees because of its two locations) committed to maintaining its relationships with local agencies, schools, and juvenile departments that target youth and adults. They planned to build new relationships with four faith-based organizations. They planned to continue their speaking engagements and sent letters to local churches to recruit mentors and mentees and to request funding. Applications to request volunteers were made to VISTA and Americorps. They also added mentoring to individuals in their existing groups.
• South Coast Independent Living Services committed to continuing a number of its community partnerships, a number of which support SCILS’s activities, including their mentoring program. They replaced their paid staff with volunteers to continue the program. They also planned to continue their relationship with SCBEC. SCILS is co-located in the local One-Stop Career Center office, which has facilitated access to employment opportunities for their youth. Prior to this grant, SCILS had not served any youth. They also planned to raise funds through community events, such as a bowl-a-thon and an e-bay store in collaboration with another agency.
Data: The original goal of the project for the five year period was to match 150 mentees, ages 16 – 24, with a mentor. This goal was reduced to 143 when funding was reduced in year three. Over the life of the project, the sub-awardees nonetheless made 150 matches, meeting its original five year goal in three years.
With respect to outcomes reported to ODEP, for fiscal year 2006 (the second year of the grant), the following are key characteristics and outcomes:
Total Youth Participating 67
Age 16 to 18 53
Native American or Alaskan 1
School to Work Connections 34
Career Goals Discussion 4
Soft Skill Development 46
Discussion of Job Search 26
One-Stop Visits 25
One-Stop Facility Use 32
Returned to school 1
Stayed in school 3
Advanced to next grade level 23
Graduated high school 6
Entered post-secondary 14
Graduated from post-secondary 3
SCBEC used evaluation forms to assess program satisfaction and results. The intake form used to record information about the mentees was also used to assess their status at exit from the program. Also, at exit mentees, mentors, and parents were asked to evaluate the program. Following are examples of compiled evaluations.
In evaluations completed by 13 mentors, the mentors reported:
82% of their mentees were employed;
89% of in school youth increased attendance rate;
89% improved grades; and
72% increased involvement with school activities.
In an evaluation completed by 12 mentees:
19% reported improved school attendance;
81% reported attaining a job;
63% learned how to find and job; and
75% reported attaining other job related skills.
Parent evaluations were positive. One reported that the mentee was the “first in the family to graduate, get scholarship [sic] and enroll in college.”
Organization Name: South Coast Business Employment Corporation
Organization Director: J.J. McLeod, Chief Executive Officer
Program Name: Youth Empowerment Solutions (YES)
Street Address: 93781 Newport Lane
City: Coos Bay
Contact Person: Maurene Ann Aakre
Contact E-mail: email@example.com