Dedicated to serving at-risk youth, Youth Voices Center (YVC) recently lost funding it has relied on for many years. YVC is focused on raising at least $30K; failing to meet that goal will force it to close its doors. GoFundMe: www.SaveYVC.com
Since inception, YVC has served over 7,000 youth. With donations made via GoFundMe, YVC can maintain its mission to improve the quality of life of young people through Positive Youth Development. YVC provides a safe and supportive environment, encouraging youth to become active, productive members of their families, schools and communities. Direct support will help youth realize their personal worth, so that each makes positive contributions to society.
ABOUT YOUTH VOICES CENTER
Established in 2008, Youth Voices Center, Inc. (YVC) is dedicated to promoting positive youth development among adolescents through its “Power of Peace” program offered in schools, community centers, and youth groups across Westchester, Schenectady, and Columbia counties, and soon to be Connecticut and New York City. The “Power of Peace” program is a conflict resolution and anti-violence initiative focused on developing leadership, teamwork, collaboration, decision-making, respect for others and self, and cultural awareness.
In 2014, 612 new Students went through the Power of Peace Program, and 3 new schools were added increasing the number of schools impacted to 8. From the 6 areas listed below, all six areas saw positive percentage change from pre- to post-survey. Specifically, “I am willing to talk to a student different from me,” saw the greatest increase at all schools of +32%. This result displays a central, consistent theme: compassion, community building, bonding and creating a nonjudgmental environment.
• I respect myself.
• I am willing to talk to a student different from me.
• I respect students different from me.
• I believe violence will not resolve conflict.
• I am aware of alternatives to violence.
• I think I know how other people see me.
“…I beg of you to please provide any monetary means that will help keep Power of Peace at our high school. Our school district has suffered from a lack of state funding and has had to cut back on student programs. We cannot afford to lose such a valuable program that has transformed the lives of so many of our students… More than 70 percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch and we are in need of character education programs such as Power of Peace to help build our student’s self-esteem and self worth. I have chaperoned many of the workshops and have witnessed to the magic that occurs during the two day intensive program. This program has single handedly saved the lives of countless students as they felt comfortable and supported in sharing their most innermost thoughts and feelings. As a result of this program, our school is able to better identify and provide additional support services to our students.”
~ Juan Carlos Sanchez, Guidance Supervisor, Port Chester High School
“Walking into the halls of Schenectady High School my ninth grade year I was part of a statistic. Schenectady High School students are perceived as fighters, ghetto, hoodlums, and affiliated with gangs. My ninth grade year I had gotten into a verbal altercation with another student and had gotten suspended. Coming back from my suspension I was put into this program called Power of Peace, at first I thought I was getting set up because I just gotten back from a suspension but little did I know my life would be changed forever. Once I finished the program I realized I wasn’t a statistic of Schenectady High School I was a person that let others drive my “car” rather than me to drive my own. What I mean by that is the student that I got into the altercation with was driving my car and controlling me I didn’t have to react and behave the way I did. The Power of Peace program saved me from not only others but from myself. Without that program I wouldn’t be graduating high school in June.”
~ Chyna, Student, Schenectady High School
ABOUT THE FOUNDER
Michael Arterberry, Founder and Executive Director of YVC, created “Power of Peace” as a result of his own childhood spent in poverty. “I lived in an environment, but I did not become that environment.” Seeking out mentors in his hometown of New Rochelle, NY, he realized his success as a teen and as an adult was due largely to the support received from these role models. Over the past 22 years as a social worker and counselor, Michael worked with thousands of teens in a range of settings. He decided to form YVC while working on the Alternative to Violence Project (AVP) in Green Haven Correctional Facility. Realizing the power of this type of experiential program, Michael launched “Power of Peace” for adolescent youth in New York State.
ABOUT POWER OF PEACE
YVC’s signature program, “Power of Peace,” is a succession of experiential workshops designed to enable young people to become skilled at conflict resolution so that their schools and communities are safer and they can realize their full potential as productive members of society. The program, led by YVC’s trained facilitators, including Michael, is provided to teens over the course of two full school days. On average, 25 students participate in each two-day cycle of the workshop. YVC staff work with the school guidance counselors to schedule as many workshop cycles as needed to reach the targeted number of students. Teachers and staff are encouraged to participate in the workshops as well so that they can share the experience with the students.
In recent years, YVC worked with students in six New York State school districts: Schenectady, Peekskill, Ossining, Port Chester, New Rochelle, and Hudson. Half of these districts are designated by the New York State Education Department as “high-needs” districts, struggling with poverty and low on-time graduation rates. All six school districts, like many urban school districts in our country, are challenged by interpersonal conflicts and violence among students. In total, these six high schools reported 10,331 violent and/or disruptive incidents during the 2012-2013 school year. YVC is committed to help lower the rate of violent incidents in these schools and support students in realizing their full potential. In 2013, YVC served over 1,500 teens at six high schools in Westchester, Schenectady, and Columbia counties. These schools request YVC to return year after year to deliver the “Power of Peace” workshop to new incoming classes. In 2015, YVC will be expanding to schools in New York City and Connecticut.
Michael’s ability to reach out to, guide and encourage those around him has enabled at-risk teens to thrive in their communities. Recently, Michael was honored at the 100 Men of Color Black Tie Gala event in Hartford, CT. He resides in New Fairfield, CT with his family.
Click here for original story in the Yonkers Tribune.