Our mission is to implement initiatives and provide access to resources that empower families in at-risk communities to strengthen their individual capabilities and enable them to improve their socioeconomic status.
We believe that all individuals should have the wherewithal to improve their quality of life, thus, changing their community, one family at a time.
Our commitment is to provide responsive, timely, and creative solutions to help children and families become healthier, more stable and safe. We aspire to be known for, and differentiated by, well-designed and rigorously evaluated evidence-based practices delivered by a committed, caring, and skilled staff.
Where We Began
FYI originated as the result of the community’s need for access to resources. Over the years, we found that many residents 45 years of age or older living in the under-served areas of Clearwater, Florida, did not have access to a computer or needed to have someone to help them navigate complicated business systems. These residents often needed help with basic needs: completing employment applications, application for or renewal of benefits, creating resumes and interpreting business correspondence. Although some had access to their local library, some residents did not feel comfortable verbalizing their needs due to a lack of comprehension. Sometimes, something as simple as a phone call needed to be made on their behalf.
As we informally helped people, we realized the need for a community resource center and formed Families and Youth Initiatives, Inc. (FYI). In 2015, we found an even greater need that existed in the South Greenwood vicinity. In this community, some residents do not have ready access to transportation, which connects them to vital services. We, therefore, expanded our service area and chose to target this community because of its lack of local services. Our vision is that every citizen has equal access to resources, and helping people is the most important work of our organization.
Recognizing the pattern of declining reading levels and subsequent reduction in high school graduation rates, we then expanded our efforts in the area of education and school readiness. The reading scores of children attending school in at-risk communities of Pinellas County are far behind children attending schools in other Florida counties. According to recent statistics, 84% of black elementary school students in Pinellas are failing state exams (Lash, August 14, 2015). Due to increased extra efforts on the part of the Pinellas County School Board and collaborating nonprofit organizations, reading levels are slowly improving, but there is still much work to be done.
FYI also began providing youth mentoring services. We provide direct one-on-one mentoring, group mentoring or peer mentoring services to underserved youth populations. Our mentoring programs are designed with the ultimate goal of improving family relationships, increasing social skills and self-esteem, reducing juvenile delinquency, and increasing chances of school success.
FYI has many plans for expansion in 2019 and beyond, to continue providing vital services to the at-risk communities of Pinellas County.
Services Are Entirely Free to the Community
With the help of collaborating partners and the commitment of more than 50 volunteers, our students and their families pay nothing for participating in FYI’s programs. Our programs are coordinated by a volunteer board of directors with a small annual budget comprised of in-kind and cash donations, sponsorships and fundraisers.
References Lash, Nathaniel. “Why Pinellas County is the worst place to be black and go to public school.” Tampa Bay Times. August 12, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.tampabay.com/projects/2015/investigations/pinellas-failure-factories/chart-failing-black-students/#