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Community Engagement is Alive and Well

Last week The Community Foundation met with 30 struggling youth and a software developer who is building is an online, searchable website directory where youth, and adults who are helping youth, can efficiently find the services they need.  I am grateful to the youth who attended to review the site design with the developer and provide feedback about its function. The meeting went extremely well. The youth helped tremendously by identifying keywords that they use in searching for jobs, housing, and other services.  Terms used by youth are sometimes different from the terms used by service providers. The relevant terminology will make this site work for both user groups. Meeting the youth and seeing how the site will benefit real people was inspiring for the software director. He is now directly involved with You’N-I, the Community Foundation initiative to bring the community together to help our homeless, runaway, and aging-out of foster care youth ages 12 to 24.  Raj, a PhD who is a real expert at setting up directory sites, genuinely cares about this project and the initiative.  I believe his commitment will be reflected in the finished product. Raj and his team are now hard at work. In July we will meet with youth again, this time in a computer lab, where they will use computers, tablets, and smart phones to test the system.  Then, after a couple of weeks of fine tuning, will go live in August. The You’N-I Initiative Steering Committee felt strongly that this new resource directory will help and made its creation a priority goal, but based on the feedback we received from the youth and providers alike, it will help even more than we had hoped. I can’t wait to see this new resource go live.  You’N-I will make a huge splash to spread the word with a press conference, school assemblies, website links, news articles, and email notifications. As school starts in September we will be letting the youth in town know about this resource to help them or their friends. who experience homelessness. The two You’N-I community-wide convenings with youth and adult stakeholders involved more than 300 people including 80 youth. Today, 5 months since the first gathering, more than 100 youth have participated. It is terrific to have accomplished so much and to be facilitating action that will help struggling youth improve their lives. If you want to learn more about the Community Foundation’s You’N-I initiative please give me a call.  We can always use more help, support, and advice as we work together, with youth, for real impact. We help people who care with causes that matter. Chris Askin, President and CEO 775-762-1932