YVYLA Expands Programs
By Dianne Anderson
If all goes as planned, millions of dollars in goods and services are coming down on the one hand of Terrance Stone, and efficiently out the other – out to the community, that is.
Recent grants are taking his outreach to new heights as he looks to hire more staff on the administrative side of programming to keep operations running smoothly.
“We’re sending e-blasts and social media posts to let people know we’re hiring and beefing up our administration. Given that amount of money, you have to have administrative staff to make sure all the paperwork and accounting systems are working properly,” said Stone, CEO and founder of Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy.
Among his grants, include $135,000 from the IE Community Foundation, and $100,000 from California Wellness Foundation. Other awards in the works for his programs are $700,000 to provide mentoring throughout the San Bernardino area approved by Rep. Pete Aguilar, and $1.2 million for the High Desert area approved for a Violence Intervention Plan grant from the state of California. A recent grant in collaboration with Loma Linda University is for $400,000, along with another $250,000 from the city of San Bernardino to tackle violence prevention.
Now the big task at hand is getting services out, and as importantly, meeting the community where they are.
“Young Visionaries has always had that standpoint of being in the community, working directly with the community and figuring out the needs of the community,” Stone said.
Since the pandemic, his nonprofit has hosted many pull-up and grab and go events, but now the goal is drawing more community engagement, which requires some ingenuity and flair. He envisions free movie nights with free resources, free food, and professionals to connect around mental health issues, along with COVID information and support.
For starters, he is focused on getting inside some of the highest needs communities where other nonprofits seem to avoid. He is connecting to partner up with management and owners in projects and low-income apartment complexes to offer an old school drive-in concept, except it’s free and bring a chair or blanket.
“We’re going to start doing movies in some of these hard-to-reach community high-risk areas, and set up a giant 70-foot theater. We’ll have a free taco truck and give COVID information. Society has opened up a bit and we have to think outside the box,” he said.
Starting with Adelanto, Rialto and San Bernardino, events will include sponsors like IEHP and San Bernardino County Public Health. Two of his grants specifically address COVID relief and mental health.
Staff will also introduce themselves and answer community questions before the movie comes on. They will look to find out how adults and kids are coping with the COVID impact, and the deaths in its aftermath.
“All those stressors, we have to see the problems. What are some of the situations you’re going through? If we know the symptoms, we can figure out the antidote,” he said.
Last Thursday, he distributed 5,000 backpacks in the High Desert, but wished for more time for community engagement there. In the interest of time and blistering heat, they had to rush the people through the lines as cars wrapped around the corner.
On July 30, they are holding a similar event with another 5,000 backpack giveaway at San Bernardino Valley College and that registration is already full. They’ll have children’s books and a box of food for everyone attending. They’ll have an ice cream truck, a KidZone, and music.
These days, they are constantly distributing resources, but he remembers when he first started out over 20 years ago.
“Back in the day, I was happy really just to do 50 backpacks,” he said. “Our resources were short back down then. Now, we’re able to get more to the community.”
Workforce development is a high priority through their violence prevention program, which is on track to get more people off the street and into skills and jobs. Through the years, that two-pronged approach addresses the potential violence component by getting the community trained.
Stone said the supply chain aspect of starter jobs is the low-hanging fruit.
“They don’t have to stay there, but they can at least have a job,” he said. “They’ll have their certification or license in driving forklift. Also, we’re looking for community intervention workers, community health workers, mentors, and mental health specialists.”
When Stone first started, he recalls only being able to give a little bit here or there to the community. The program has evolved and events are big. Through COVID, they hosted over 60 events, reaching about 100,000 in the community in the past two years with information and free resources.
He expects that number to grow, but he feels that probably one of the best parts of the outreach to the community is that they are not dreading the experience. They get what they need in a dignified way, and everyone is on equal ground.
“People are happy to meet us, and get what we have to offer,” he said. “We’re going to make sure that we’re not demeaning you about receiving it or being there because a lot of my staff or our parents have also been in those lines to get free stuff.”
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