At Opus, our commitment to the community goes well beyond the buildings we develop, design and build to impactful contributions to the vitality of the community. The Opus Foundation® makes it a priority to support nonprofits working to strengthen the places we live, work and play.
Recently the Opus Foundation awarded a three-year, $150,000 grant to the New Pathways for Youth (NPFY) in Phoenix, Ariz. Supporting the youth development focus area, the grant will help NPFY expand its youth mentoring program with $50,000 in 2019, followed by two additional $50,000 grants in 2020 and 2021 based on the early success of the program. At the completion of this three-year grant, the Foundation will have awarded $270,100 to New Pathways for Youth.
Beyond Basic Mentorship
Most of the youth serviced by NPFY are between the ages of 12 and 21, considered high-risk and live in extreme poverty. Through its Transformative Mentoring Program, NPFY connects them with caring and dedicated adult mentors who help them reach their greatest potential through social, emotional and academic learning.
“We often get labeled as a mentor organization, but we are much more," said Christy McClendon, president and CEO of NPFY. “We believe we can disrupt the cycle of generational poverty and adversity through a three-prong approach that includes relationships, education and employment. This mix provides the structure of support these youth need to become self-sufficient adults, ultimately breaking the cycle."
Youth enrolled in NPFY's Transformative Mentoring Program receive one-on-one mentoring; participate in social, emotional and life skill workshops, goal setting projects and college and career planning sessions.; NPFY also provides ongoing mentor training and support as well as family and parenting programs.
Expanding to Impact the Full Community
In the past, NPFY's program focused on high-risk, individual youth. While many lives were improved, it didn't allow the organization to create change beyond the individuals served and wasn't having a measurable impact on the communities as a whole. NPFY began addressing this in 2015 with an Opus Foundation grant to support a strategy targeting the Garfield neighborhood, a community with significant crime and poverty. In partnership with Garfield Schools, NPFY provided a comprehensive program to 125 youth that produced positive outcomes of improved school performance and reduced delinquent behaviors. With this latest grant, NPFY will fully implement a targeted, geographical neighborhood approach in partnership with key community stakeholders.
“Our neighborhood-focused program is powerful and results-oriented," said McClendon. “We recognize there is even more opportunity to transform lives in high-risk neighborhoods, creating change on a deeper and wider community level."
The Neighborhood Growth Project takes NPFY's successful program to Phoenix's highest risk neighborhoods to reach youth experiencing the most extreme adversity. NPFY will slowly grow the program by serving 50 more youth in year one, another 50 in year two and 100 more in year three. Money from the grant will be used to advance mentor recruitment and development, staff development and curriculum advancements.
“New Pathways for Youth is grateful for the support of the Opus Foundation," said McClendon. “In addition to financial resources, we appreciate the thought partnership we share with local Opus employees, including Sean Cummings, who joined our board of directors in 2017."
During its first year in 1989, NPFY provided mentoring services to 40 youth. Today it has grown to serve more than 500 youth annually. In total, the organization and its army of volunteers have transformed the lives of nearly 6,500 youth over the last three decades with results that are nothing short of remarkable. According to a third-party evaluator measuring NPFY outcomes, over the last two years, 92% of NPFY youth improved their relationships and social skills, 95% graduated high school and 90% have gone on to post-secondary education and/or training (75% of whom are the first in their family to do so).
The Opus Foundation is building community for a better tomorrow by supporting projects and programs that make our communities better places to live, work and raise families through grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of early childhood education, youth development, workforce development, community revitalization and pressing/emerging needs. Read more about the Foundation's work.