Volunteers of America Oregon

Introduction

New Funding helps Build Up Young Leaders in Our Community

New Funding helps Build Up Young Leaders in Our Community

We are excited to share that the VOA Oregon Prevention Services program has received $75,000 from the Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) 2021 K-12 Summer Learning grant. This funding will allow our team to grow the work they have been doing in Bystander Intervention and build up young people in our community.

Over the past couple of years, Prevention Services has been offering Bystander Intervention workshops. These have typically been done with middle and high school aged youth in partnership with community-based organizations and schools. Since George Floyd’s murder, the conversations have increased around racial justice in this country.

With this increase in conversations, young people have been looking for support and in one high school, the Black Student Union and Asian Student group put calls to action on leadership at the school to better support students of color. One of these actions was to be a better bystander, interrupt problematic behavior when you see it happening. Our Prevention Services team was called in to provide the Bystander Intervention Workshop to better train the staff on what to do as a bystander.

As the demand continued to increase for this type of training and young people continued to push for change, our team looked to expand the workshop. Because of this need to support students, we applied for this grant with OCF. “My dream has always been to empower youth to have these conversations,” shares Anna Bledsoe, Program Director for Prevention Services. “This grant is about getting the group of youth involved in the process. Supporting them and helping them become experts in this issue.”

This expansion of the Bystander Intervention Workshop will bring together a group of student leaders who will be trained in Bystander Intervention. They will then go on to train their peers in different schools and settings and develop resources to be displayed in schools and community-based organizations. In addition, student leaders will collaborate with the Prevention Services team for professional development presentations, specifically to parents and school personnel.

Anna Bledsoe says that “by including youth in the development of this project, they will develop the skills, knowledge, and confidence to positively impact their own lives and the lives of others. Their voices are crucial because they are the experts in what is going on around them and can provide unique insight on how to effectively reach their peers and create lasting change. Youth represent the future, and they must be at the table as we fight for social justice.”

 This is a great new opportunity for us to continue the fight for social justice and strengthen our young people to be leaders in the community and to help make positive change.

Find out more about the work being done at prevention services.