What does it look like to be a youth in today's urban world? In Providence, it seems like teenagers have everything going against them. 37% of children in Providence come from families living below the poverty line--this is more than double the poverty rate in the rest of Rhode Island. Almost half of all youth live in single parent families; combined with a public school system that is constantly shifting its policies and politics, these teenagers have very few adult mentors from which they can model successful behaviors.
Most important to consider is the huge race gap in the state of Rhode Island: 84% of Providence children come from minority backgrounds, but the metropolitan area surrounding the city (which consists of the rest of Rhode Island and a few counties from Connecticut and Massachusetts) is 80% white, making the areas outside of Providence the THIRD LEAST DIVERSE metro area in the United States. This racial disparity means that families living within the city have very few social supports and resources, while the majority population finds itself segregated from the concerns and everyday affairs of urban minorities. This divide, unfortunately, extends to the religious institutions throughout Rhode Island, as many congregations do have a heart for fueling positive transformation, but are unsure or uninformed about how best to approach this vast need.
What the Youth Collaborative does is provide urban teens with the skills for long-term success, through stable adult relationships developed within our team-based entrepreneurship projects. Our volunteer teachers provide both practical and spiritual guidance for the youth, as the teens receive character-building life skills, money management skills, and are welcomed as vital contributors to the local community. So our organization is not at all fashioned on a traditional youth group, but it’s an innovative outreach established on the principle of holistic development--in fact, one of the only faith-based youth outreaches in the entire state of Rhode Island.
By the year 2020, half of all children in the United States will be from minority backgrounds; but as previously stated, Providence is already at the forefront of this trend, as 84% of our youth already represent the diversity of America's future. What we have is a huge population of children that no one seems to really care about--help us to care for the least of these. As a registered 501(c)(3), our organizations needs donations to fuel the many different aspects of our movement: for accessing new avenues of skills training, such as enrolling our young entrepreneurs in online courses; for acquiring various equipment like art supplies and culinary appliances; and for building up a community budget so our adult mentors can take the youth on social outings and creative field trips. The Youth Collaborative is earnestly hoping to partner with as many as we can in order to grow our vision for a truly multicultural and compassionate future.