What We Do

The Youth Development Resource Center supports a network of hundreds of Detroit youth development providers offering afterschool or summer programs. We seek to strengthen their individual and collective impact on youth, giving them the tools they need to increase program quality and improve youth outcomes.

How We Do It

Measure Quality and Impact

We provide access to standardized data, best practices and common measurement tools to help providers assess how many youth they are serving, how much service they are providing, how well the service is delivered, and what difference they are making in terms of the youth skills and outcomes.

Improve skills for effective youth work and management

We provide and connect youth development professionals to professional development designed to promote quality standards and best practices, giving providers the knowledge and skills they need to implement high-quality youth programming that is safe, supportive, engaging, and skill-building.

Connect providers to each other and to professional development opportunities.

We convene networking and peer-learning opportunities for professionals to build relationships and partnerships, connect to local resources and national best practices and share lessons learned.

Advocate for quality programming for all Detroit youth

We champion quality and equity so that more children across the Detroit area can access high-quality youth development opportunities.

Looking Ahead — Our Strategic Plan

The Youth Development Resource Center supports a network of hundreds of Detroit youth development providers offering afterschool or summer programs. We seek to strengthen their individual and collective impact on youth, giving them the tools they need to increase program quality and improve youth outcomes.

Our Mission

To improve the quality of Detroit-area youth-serving organizations to maximize their impact on youth and to advocate for accessible high-quality youth development opportunities. See our values here.

Our Vision

To connect all Detroit-area youth to high-quality youth development opportunities that grow their capacities to thrive in school and life.

History

The Youth Development Resource Center has supported Detroit area youth-serving organizations since 2013. We began as a part of the Skillman Foundation’s Good Neighborhoods Initiative and later merged with the Initiative’s Youth Development Alliance. Since our founding, we’ve continued to grow, refine and standardize practices to support a growing network of youth-serving partners in and around Detroit. In 2018, YDRC began a fiscal sponsorship relationship with the Forum for Youth Investment.

Staff

Sara Plachta Elliott, Ph.D.

Sara Plachta Elliott, Ph.D.

Executive Director

sara@detroitydrc.org

Sara is the founding executive director with responsibility for leading the vision, development and management of the organization.

Sara began her career working in afterschool and summer programs, as well as in youth mentoring and neighborhood development organizations in Kalamazoo and Ypsilanti. She then focused her career on community-based participatory evaluation and capacity-building. Her social work and evaluation experience have centered on positive youth development, caregiving, mental health, child and family policy and philanthropy.

Sara holds a master’s degree and doctorate in social policy from Brandeis University, focused on children, youth and families. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in applied sociology.

Yvonne Mejias

Yvonne Mejias

Improvement and Impact Manager

yvonne@detroitydrc.org

Yvonne leads the professional learning community and supports data-driven quality improvement.

As the former Program Director for Detroit Horse Power, Yvonne has a firsthand understanding of the challenges and rewards of implementing quality standards in programming. Her career opportunities have provided her with experience in schools, working with parent groups, and developing and implementing curricula centered on social-emotional learning to support academic and life outcomes for youth.  She is a certified external assessor, coach for program quality assessment, and youth work methods trainer.

Yvonne holds a Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership from Marquette University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California.  

Kelsey Thompson, LLMSW

Kelsey Thompson, LLMSW

Improvement and Impact Associate

kelsey@detroitydrc.org

Kelsey is responsible for measurement and improvement coordination and technical assistance support, as well as network and operations support.

Kelsey began her career serving youth at a substance abuse and prevention organization. She continued her work in the youth development field doing program design and developing organizational procedures. In 2017, Kelsey served as a social work intern at both Urban Neighborhood Initiatives and YDRC. She then joined the YDRC full-time, first as a summer learning intern and now as a fellow. During her time at the YDRC, Kelsey has become a certified external assessor and youth work methods trainer.

Kelsey received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Oakland University and her master’s of social work from the University of Michigan.

Consultants

Kim Johnson

Kim Johnson

Senior Network Advisor

kim@detroitydrc.org

Kim supports network growth through professional development trainings and network meetings, and facilitates special projects like the College Success Professional Learning Community.

Previously, Kim was the director of the Youth Development Initiative serving four of six Detroit Youth Development Alliance neighborhoods. She was also the chief administrator of the Don Bosco Hall Community Resource Center. Kim is the founder and president of Developing K.I.D.S.

Kim holds a bachelor’s degree from Central State University in English/pre-law and a graduate certificate from Central Michigan University. She has also studied at Wayne State University and University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Monica Marie Jones, MSW

Monica Marie Jones, MSW

Senior Quality Coach

monicamariejones@gmail.com

Monica’s work with YDRC began with the Acting with Data Learning Community pilot. Currently, she is the senior quality coach, responsible for building the quality of programs through training facilitation and coaching network providers, external assessors and new trainers.

Monica is also a trainer and field consultant for the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality. Her experience includes creating youth development training content and working as a teacher and afterschool program director. She has worked as a quality coach with the Youth Driven Spaces Immersion Program and as an out-of-school-time intermediary coach for the Wallace Foundation’s Partnership for Social and Emotional Learning.

Monica received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Eastern Michigan University and her master’s of social work from the University of Michigan.

Advisory board

Mikel Bresee, College for Creative Studies
Nicole de Beaufort, EarlyWorks LLC
Tom Devaney, The Forum for Youth Investment
Anise Hayes, Atlantic Impact

Tammie Jones, United Way for Southeastern Michigan
Vanessa Samuelson, McGregor Fund
Laenne Thompson, Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality
Terry Whitfield, Skillman Foundation