Things are busy as ever for the Connected Youth Initiative team. Take a look at what they’ve been up to this month.
CYI youth raise their voices at Leaders for Change
In late October, nearly 100 current and former foster youth representing more than 20 foster advocacy organizations across the country convened in Washington, D.C., to make the case for the foster care reforms they think are most important. Based on a survey of more than 500 current and former foster youth in more than 25 states, young adults participating in the convening emphasized to policymakers the importance of policies that maintain sibling connections, prevent homelessness, ensure college access and success, and help former foster youth live independently. Four youth (Gil Green III, North Platte; Rosetta Judd, Omaha; Brian Schrieber and Juan Hernandez Escobar, Fremont) from Nebraska attended the convening along with NC’s Mona Tarin. Brian Schrieber, a youth attendee, had this to say about the convening: “It was an honor to participate in such a life-changing, incredible opportunity! Leaders for Change 2016 really opened my heart for topics like access to college and seeing siblings. Leaders for Change in D.C. was so incredible and an honor for us because we’ve all come this far. It puts love straight into our souls and our hearts! We all came from different places, different faces, and different ages, but all in this planet. Thank you!”
CYI group travels to LEAP Convening in NYC
Two Nebraska Children staffers, three key LEAP partners (Nola Derby-Bennet from The Hub, Marissa Marx from Avenue Scholars, and Felipe Longoria from Central Plains Center for Services), and a young LEAP participant from Omaha traveled to New York City for the yearly LEAP convening November 1-3. During the convening, partners from all LEAP sites across the country came together to share successes, discuss challenges, and participate in a peer-to-peer learning exchange. Other learning exchange activities included a panel with senior associates of The Annie E. Casey Foundation (Jamiel Alexander, Allison Gerber, David Brown) and Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez, Director of The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative; funders luncheon; site learning walk; community of practice meetings; SIF grant administration Q&A; system change and retention breakout sessions; SIF evaluation Q&A; and youth performances. The convening took place at a LEAP site, The Door, and participants toured the work happening at the organization and spoke with young people involved in LEAP programming. Young adult leaders from all LEAP sites as well as national leaders also participated in the convening as well as leadership activities during the 3-day event. This convening is part of the SIF learning community established by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.
CYI celebrates National Adoption Day
On November 19, National Adoption Day was celebrated across the state with additional celebrations happening across the state in December. The day featured the adoptions of foster children mixed with fun activities. In Omaha, the “No Youth Without a Birthday Treat” initiative collected sweet donations of cookies, cakes, and cupcakes to share with 55 new families. In North Platte, new families celebrated with bounce houses and arts and crafts.
Project Everlast Omaha hosts Thanksgiving meal
On Thursday, November 17, Project Everlast Omaha staff and some of its other partners served a delicious Thanksgiving meal to more than 50 unconnected youth and their families. In addition to the traditional turkey/ham meal, guests were treated to live poetry performances from some of the young people.
Staff Spotlight: Phillip Burrell
What is your role at Nebraska Children?
Director of Youth Services, Project Everlast Omaha
What do you like most about working at NC and with older youth?
I enjoy learning from our young adults. Everyone’s views are shaped by their experiences, and I am interested in seeing the world from multiple angles and perspectives and our young adults help me to do this.
What is your favorite pizza topping?
Supreme or sausage
Share a piece of advice you’ve received and what it meant to you.
Hope for the best but plan for the worst. I try to be optimistic but my mind always journeys to 100 diff erent whatifs, so I try to put this power to good use by helping my team be prepared for all scenarios.
What is your favorite holiday movie?
A Christmas Story and all Charlie Brown specials.
If you could spend the day with any one person, who would it be and why?
My Grandfather. He passed away when I was young and I would love to have a memory of being with him.