Young Visionaries: Reaching Local Kids and Adults
By Dianne Anderson
Brainstorming with the crew on how to keep kids and youth off the street, away from gang violence and into sustainable jobs is starting to pay off for Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy.
Half the battle for Terrence Stone for the past 22 years in nonprofit service is finding the money to keep their community programs alive, and then stretching those dollars into remote places where others dare not go.
With $488,862 in funding from Loma Linda University, one program now rolling out provides hospital based violence intervention and prevention services.
In the 12-month effort, YVYLA is going into 24 different communities of San Bernardino with help. They are partnering with Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County to bring food and other necessities, and donations from Amazon.
“We’re going out to their neighborhoods. We’re not trying to coerce them to our facility, we’re coming to your front porch bringing out resources, whatever you need. If it’s not here, we’ll see how we can get it,” he said.
He said his team is getting into the left behind communities, reaching out daily leading up to their popup events to draw those most in need out from the shadows.
“We go into neighborhoods that people don’t regularly go into to do community events. Yesterday we were on 14th and Mt. Vernon. It’s not a neighborhood that you probably want to be standing around in the evening time.”
But he said it is a neighborhood that rarely gets much interaction.
He brings tangible resources, information and everyday household items like detergents and soap, but as importantly, building future relationships. Still, free food is always a main attraction.
Recently, he had to figure out a different mechanism for distribution because it was going so fast.
“Community action partnership brings out 50 boxes per event, and I was thinking we’re going to have to store this because we’re not going to hand out 50 boxes. I looked up and those boxes were gone,” he said.
He is inviting community organizations and nonprofits to connect with his program to set up a booth if they also have any resources they feel the community may need.
Expungement outreach is available, with connections to attorneys to get records cleared. Sometimes dads try to avoid getting jobs if they owe a lot of back child support, but Stone said not paying could cost much more in the long run, like a suspended license.
He tries to get them connected to pay the minimum they can afford.
“Those are the little things that people don’t think about, people that are just running amok throughout the city of San Bernardino. Sometimes they just have a small barrier that we can help them get past to be productive citizens,” he said.
Altogether, YVYLA says it serves about 5,000 youth and adults annually through several outreach programs. The nonprofit is located at 696 S. Tippecanoe Ave. in San Bernardino.
Most recently, the program also pulled in over $733,000 in federal funding, which has Stone counting every penny toward developing viable programs and sustaining outreach.
“I think it was $733,533 and 26 cents,” said Stone, President and CEO of the Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy. We’re out here trying to get it and make it happen. We have more failures than successes [with] funding, but I don’t sit around like woe is me.”
That funding comes by way of Rep, Pete Aguilar, which also supports adjacent projects, including the LOVE Program for social-emotional wellness of high school females and Big Brothers and Sisters to provide mentoring for the kids.
The Empowering Youth Resilience and Promoting Social Emotional Healing program entails close case management, identifying and triaging up to 150 youth to connect with trauma care, preventive and intensive clinical care, substance abuse treatment, and evaluations.
Stone said they are also addressing cognitive life skills, mental health, anger management and mentoring, especially as kids emerge from post-pandemic isolation.
“We’re focused on empowering youth that we think are in the most emotional pain, [we’ll] collaborate and integrate a network of culturally competent services for disproportionately impacted youth,” Stone said, adding “The program is empowering youth resilience and promoting social emotional healing for youth up to 17 years with poor academic records.”
In the past six months, San Bernardino City Unified School District also approved $164,143 in funding for the program to provide school-based violence intervention and prevention services, called SEARCH, Social Emotional Awareness Restorative Campus Health.
With that, he expects to reach about 1,200 kids to reduce violence with intervention officers sited at each school. The program will focus on emotional awareness workshops to help kids with direct communication skills, and among other things, on-site mentoring and behavioral enrichment activities with the kids.
“We’ll work with the kids to bring down the violence with mediation and conflict resolution and also connect them with positive after-school resources,” he said. “We’re going to have safe passage programs before, during and after school.”
For more information on YVYLA programs, see yvyla-ie.org or call 909-793-1695.