When the Erie County Youth Bureau and Youth Detention Facility merged into the Youth Services Center, under the leadership of the Department of Social Services, one of the primary goals was to add Youth Bureau positive development programming into the Youth Detention Facility. In 2009 the Boys and Girls Clubs of Buffalo, in collaboration with the Erie County Youth Detention Center, was awarded a federal “Second Chance Mentoring Grant” in the amount of $567,000 to be used for a program that reduces recidivism among juvenile offenders and gives them positive development tools to overcome their past mistakes. This grant allows for expansion of staff and programming in the center through October of 2012. It will also connect youth to both their local Buffalo clubhouse and provide a long-term mentor upon their release. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo has been active in the Erie County Youth Detention Center since 2002.
Youth in the Detention Center are generally aged 13 to 16 years old, and are at risk of academic failure, substance abuse, gang activity, and repeated juvenile delinquency. The three main goals for the program are reducing recidivism, providing a successful transition to home communities, and ensuring that the youth build a sense of leadership, responsibility, and self confidence. In order to achieve these goals, the Boys and Girls Club staff have recruited and trained mentors from D’Youville College who facilitate all areas of youth development. Mentors work with the young people for a minimum of 24 months after their release. A variety of programs ensue to ensure youth will be well prepared for life after the detention facility—education and career development programs, health and life skills programs, academic support, and character and leadership development programs.
In addition, four other youth agencies operate programs in the Youth Detention Facility either during the summer or school year. The agencies include Literacy Volunteers, the African American Cultural Center, Computers for Children, and Science Firsthand Learning.
African Cultural Center of Buffalo
350 Masten Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14209
Students receive instruction on West African drumming techniques and rhythms. The dance class focuses on the fundamentals of traditional West African dance, learning basic techniques and choreography that is both traditional and innovative. The class will take on a village-like atmosphere that allows for the expression of experience indigenous to African cultures. Both genders focus on the connection between dance and drum.
Computers For Children, Inc.
2558 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14216
Computers For Children, Inc. (CFC) is a non-profit organization in Buffalo, NY whose mission is to provide current computers and increase technology access to youth throughout the WNY area. CFC provides an educationally rich environment with the availability of computer labs and enhanced training sessions teaching youth the basics of computer repair and software applications, such as the Microsoft Office suite. Students learn the necessary skills to compete at a scholastic level, incorporating resume building and PowerPoint presentations into their portfolio of accomplishments. Additionally, by providing a hands-on training approach, youth are better prepared for the job and career fields. Additionally, CFC has developed several “Cyber Safety” programs, educating parents, youth, and the public of the dangers associated with risky behaviors online, such as sexting, cyber bullying, and social networking basics. Since 1997, CFC has been the foremost technology based organization enriching kids’ lives, and strengthening their educational and future career endeavors. Computers for Children, Inc. has donated over 11,000 computers to schools and youth serving agencies, and continues to provide valuable resources to support positive youth development and educational needs.
FIRST HAND LEARNING
2495 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14214
Program Summary: FHL Summer "ScienCENTS" Program
First Hand Learning, Inc. (FHL), a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to promote the process of scientific inquiry and learning through direct experience, will be conducting the ScienCENTS program with teens at the Erie County Secure Youth Detention Facility. Youth ages 14-16 will be introduced to the model of inquiry through enriching hands-on science investigations involving life science, earth science, physical science, green technology and career exploration.
By utilizing carefully chosen explorations, activities and topics relevant to youth, SciencCENTS provides teens, who may not have originally experienced or enjoyed science, the opportunity to recognize that science is all around us. Once they discover that science can be interesting and fun, it may lead to some interesting possibilities as they begin to think about positive future goals.
A key goal of the program is to introduce and emphasize the topic of Buffalo's emerging green economy and green jobs, so that youth will make the connections between engaging science experiences and the pursuit of local opportunities to earn a living and to become productive citizens.
Literacy Volunteers of Buffalo and Erie County
1 Lafayette Square, Central Library
Buffalo, NY 14203
Literacy Volunteers of Buffalo & Erie County provides one-on-one tutoring in English Language Arts for residents of the Erie County Secure Youth Detention Facility. Twice a week, tutors aid during classroom time with teachers for extra support and then work with students one-on-one to improve their reading and writing skills as well as content knowledge. Tutors use various strategies geared toward students’ interests in order to produce relevant instruction and meaningful lessons.