• Academic Motivation: 78% 78% 78%
  • Assertiveness: 83% 84% 84%
  • Learning Interest: 78% 78% 78%
  • Action Orientation: 72% 78% 78%
  • Perserverence: 72% 72% 72%
  • Reflection: 76% 76% 76%

In 2019, this percentage of youth improved their skills in the above areas through participation in quality youth development programs.

  • Academic Motivation: 78% 78% 78%
  • Assertiveness: 83% 84% 84%
  • Learning Interest: 78% 78% 78%
  • Action Orientation: 72% 78% 78%
  • Perserverence: 72% 72% 72%
  • Reflection: 76% 76% 76%

In 2019, this percentage of youth who initially scored low improved their skills in the above areas through participation in quality youth development programs.

Today we expect more from our youth and graduates than ever before.

Not only are academic expectations rising, but employers are demanding more emphasis on critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.

Afterschool and summer programming help to lift up the skills youth need to succeed in school, careers, and in life. Our initiatives empower providers by helping them to improve their youth development programming and ultimately increase youth outcomes.

Improving Skills. Empowering Young Lives.

YDRC November Provider Highlight

YDRC November Provider Highlight

YDRC November Provider Highlight

Motor City Street Dance Academy (MCSDA) November, 2021

This month we want to take the time to highlight Motor City Street Dance Academy (MCSDA).  Founded in 2016, Motor City Street Dance Academy is dedicated to bringing hip hop culture to Southwest Detroit and mentoring youth from all around Detroit. We had the opportunity to connect with their Founder and Executive Director, Benito Vasquez about the creative transformations he is making in the city. You can read more about our short interview below:

What unique gap does your organization fill in the city of Detroit?

Motor City Street Dance Academy (MCSDA) provides programming through the lens of hip hop, arts, and mentorship. MCSDA also uses these different forms of art to assist their young people with finding unique career pathways.

What would you say has been your organization’s biggest challenges this year and how did you overcome them?

One of MCSDA’s biggest hurdles this year was filling up and creating an in-person experience in a virtual setting. MCSDA was able to overcome this challenge by providing in-person classes to their students as well as waiving fees for students who could not afford their program tuition.

What has been your organization’s moment of pride and how did you celebrate it?

This pandemic has allowed MSCDA to develop innovative programming as well as think of ways to streamline its process and procedures. Motor City Street Dance Academy has also been able to hire a team of talented staff.

What is one fun fact people may not know about you as a leader or about your program?

As busy as I am on the administrative, teaching, and business side; I travel to different cities and compete in dancing competitions almost every weekend.

Finally, are there any organizations you would like to connect with within the Detroit out-of-school time network, and why?

Any organization with youth interested in hip-hop and its elements – Breakin’, DJing, Aerosol Art, and Emceeing. We would also love to connect with organizations that have youth who are interested in anime and comic design.

As the new program year approaches, we want to make sure we take the time to highlight the impactful work that is taking place in Detroit. We are kicking off a new Provider Highlight Series by highlighting At Bat.

At Bat is an out-of-school program that uses the game of baseball and softball to teach young people in Metro Detroit the fundamentals of sports. We had the opportunity to talk with their Founder and Executive Director, Delrisha Hayes, about the impact her program is making on the city. You can read more about our short interview with her below: 

What unique gap does your organization fill for the youth in the city of Detroit?
Youth participation in sports is oftentimes hampered by insufficient funds to cover costs of lessons, equipment, and/or even transportation, which is why we work in partnership with local communities and schools to provide affordable programming in communities where youth have least likely participated due to these factors. In addition, it is proven that participation in sports positively impacts a child’s physical and mental health while also providing lessons in self-discipline.

What would you say has been your organization’s biggest hurdle this year and how did you overcome that?
Our biggest hurdle was a decline in volunteerism for in-person programming, and we struggled with hiring part-time help for our summer in-person program. We found that most people are not ready to return to work and decide not to engage in volunteerism via in-person for a variety of different reasons and of course risk associated with it. However, we pushed through by communicating with our partners at Center 4 Success in Pontiac, informing them that we would have to reduce the amount of time we had scheduled to spend on-site, and did not take on any extra off-site opportunities with new potential partners.

What has been your organization’s moment of pride and how did you celebrate?

Receiving funding for the creation of our sporting kits from Dicks Sporting Good Sports Matters Foundation and Co-Act Detroit in 2021 is At Bat’s moment of pride. I say this because, leaving 2020 into the new year, I didn’t know if the organization would be able to survive. Funding opportunities were so scarce, especially for sporting organizations. Plus, I had pitched the sporting kits idea twice before I was able to secure funding, so it meant a lot to find someone who believed in the things the organization does. In addition to supporting our transition as we tried to create programming/activities that adapt to current conditions. I celebrated by just giving myself an extra day off to just relax. These sporting kits were given to our partners at Center 4 Success (Detroit and Pontiac).

What is one fun fact people may not know about you as a leader or about your program?
I started incorporating STEM education into programming when I first piloted my first after-school program at Voyager Academy in 2017.

Finally, are there any organizations you would like to connect with in the Detroit out of school time network and why?
The Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, I believe we could work together to create different programs that offer sport sampling, educational workshops and activities that focus on childhood obesity, and assist us with connecting with more youth, families, and community members.

Thank you At Bat for taking the time to share with us and for providing high quality programming for our Detroit area youth. 

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YDRC October Provider Highlight

YDRC October Provider Highlight

YDRC October Provider Highlight

At Bat – October, 2021

As the new program year approaches, we want to make sure we take the time to highlight the impactful work that is taking place in Detroit. We are kicking off a new Provider Highlight Series by highlighting At Bat.

At Bat is an out-of-school program that uses the game of baseball and softball to teach young people in Metro Detroit the fundamentals of sports. We had the opportunity to talk with their Founder and Executive Director, Delrisha Hayes, about the impact her program is making on the city. You can read more about our short interview with her below: 

What unique gap does your organization fill for the youth in the city of Detroit?
Youth participation in sports is oftentimes hampered by insufficient funds to cover costs of lessons, equipment, and/or even transportation, which is why we work in partnership with local communities and schools to provide affordable programming in communities where youth have least likely participated due to these factors. In addition, it is proven that participation in sports positively impacts a child’s physical and mental health while also providing lessons in self-discipline.

What would you say has been your organization’s biggest hurdle this year and how did you overcome that?
Our biggest hurdle was a decline in volunteerism for in-person programming, and we struggled with hiring part-time help for our summer in-person program. We found that most people are not ready to return to work and decide not to engage in volunteerism via in-person for a variety of different reasons and of course risk associated with it. However, we pushed through by communicating with our partners at Center 4 Success in Pontiac, informing them that we would have to reduce the amount of time we had scheduled to spend on-site, and did not take on any extra off-site opportunities with new potential partners.

What has been your organization’s moment of pride and how did you celebrate?

Receiving funding for the creation of our sporting kits from Dicks Sporting Good Sports Matters Foundation and Co-Act Detroit in 2021 is At Bat’s moment of pride. I say this because, leaving 2020 into the new year, I didn’t know if the organization would be able to survive. Funding opportunities were so scarce, especially for sporting organizations. Plus, I had pitched the sporting kits idea twice before I was able to secure funding, so it meant a lot to find someone who believed in the things the organization does. In addition to supporting our transition as we tried to create programming/activities that adapt to current conditions. I celebrated by just giving myself an extra day off to just relax. These sporting kits were given to our partners at Center 4 Success (Detroit and Pontiac).

What is one fun fact people may not know about you as a leader or about your program?
I started incorporating STEM education into programming when I first piloted my first after-school program at Voyager Academy in 2017.

Finally, are there any organizations you would like to connect with in the Detroit out of school time network and why?
The Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, I believe we could work together to create different programs that offer sport sampling, educational workshops and activities that focus on childhood obesity, and assist us with connecting with more youth, families, and community members.

Thank you At Bat for taking the time to share with us and for providing high quality programming for our Detroit area youth. 

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The History of Youth Development Network Building in Detroit, and Our Experience with Dr. Cassandra Montgomery

The History of Youth Development Network Building in Detroit, and Our Experience with Dr. Cassandra Montgomery

The History of Youth Development Network Building in Detroit, and Our Experience with Dr. Cassandra Montgomery

By: Sara Plachta Elliott

At the end of the summer, our team had a retreat (all virtual this year) and we had some courageous conversations about our earliest memories of race, as well as our journeys with youth development network building in Detroit. It was a powerful experience that resulted in tears for some of us, particularly as we reflected on how each of our individual journeys with this work intersected and how we impacted each other, sometimes in positive ways and sometimes in unintentionally harmful ways. The discussion was made all the more tender and vulnerable because it could not be done in person.

The conversation helped us identify our key priorities for this unusual year. The biggest priority we identified is getting back to basics and focusing on our local relationship building. A sense of community across the youth development sector is one of our greatest offerings.

At the end of the two day experience, Yvonne and I got an email from a youth development professional in our network asking us for their organization’s data because their Executive Director had passed away this summer.

If you have participated in this community of youth development professionals for a while, you might have met Dr. Cassandra Montgomery who was both the Program Director and then the Executive Director of People’s Community Services, which runs the Delray Community Center on Detroit’s southwest side. She was one of our most regular participants, and we were really saddened to learn of her passing. She had an extraordinary life.

People know YDRC because of quality or data or professional development, but our roots are in the neighborhood-based network-building done by the former staff of the Youth Development Alliance (Partnership for Youth and the Youth Development Initiative) and the Youth Development Commission that came before YDRC. We’ve kept some of that network building alive, but this summer we’ve really felt the loss of those deep and wide networks in Detroit neighborhoods.

My first memory of Dr. Montgomery was probably 7 years ago when she brought youth from the Delray Community Center to the Patton Recreation Center to present on the results of the small grant they received from Partnership for Youth. My last memory was being in her office, talking with her about how stretched for resources her program was but that they needed to keep the doors open for Delray youth who really needed somewhere to be when out-of-school. She gave me a tour before I left. The gym floor was buckled from a water leak, but youth were arriving afterschool to do homework and hang out.

While continuous quality improvement is at the heart of what we do, we’d like to be as known for relationship building and advocacy for youth. To youth, the caring adults and the safe spaces in their lives are their greatest resource, especially right now.

If you have a few dollars to spare, please make a donation in Dr. Montgomery’s honor to the Delray Community Center.

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