Foundation Gives $600K to Help Keep Youth Off the Streets  

Funds To Support the Empowering Youth for the Future Program and

Homeless Youth Connection (HYC) has received a $600,000 multi-year grant from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation to support the agency’s Empowering Youth for the Future program, with $100,000 of the grant being allocated to enhance and expand a multi-purpose space for in-kind  donations, volunteer work and staff functions. Construction will begin later this year on their Sunnyslope facility.

HYC’s program offers youth experiencing homelessness, ages 13 to 21, comprehensive case management, assistance with basic needs (hygiene items, gift cards for groceries, school supplies including laptops, etc.)  housing resources, life skills training and access to healthcare services.

“Youth facing homelessness are incredibly vulnerable and have an uphill battle without the right support,” said Bob Parsons, co-founder, The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation. “Homeless Youth Connection helps ensure that, despite a rough start, these kids can still have a shot at a bright and promising future.”

The Empowering Youth for the Future program aims to provide meaningful resources that encourage young people to finish high school and plan for post-secondary education. Each youth is paired with a Youth Coach to identify their strengths and goals and establish a personalized action plan to attain those goals. They connect weekly, both virtually and in person to discuss their progress. Through this authentic engagement, youth develop a sense of safety, structure, belonging, self-worth and social contribution.

“This year, we had 123 individuals graduate and 15 seniors continuing their education with summer school or an additional senior semester,” said Dana Bailey, co-chief executive officer, Homeless Youth Connection. “These youth have worked so hard to complete high school and create a more stable future for themselves. We’re so proud of their hard work and couldn’t do it without support from organizations like The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.”

One of those graduates is Sam, a young man who has overcome incredible odds to not only graduate high school, but also create a bright future ahead for himself.

Sam’s childhood was far from easy. At the age of 11, he was adopted into a family that turned out to be emotionally and physically abusive. He endured years of mistreatment and never felt like he belonged. As he entered his senior year of high school, Sam’s adoptive family kicked him out of their home. With no place to go, he found himself sleeping in a park, unsure of what the future held for him. That’s when he was referred to Homeless Youth Connection.

It was through HYC that Sam found hope. Under the guidance and support of HYC, Sam was able to find a stable living situation and focus on his studies. He received necessary resources like counseling, case management and life skills support to give him the confidence to look ahead and plan for his future. Despite the challenges he faced, Sam persevered and recently graduated from high school with a 3.4 GPA.

Sam’s story doesn’t end there. After graduation, he plans to join the Navy and serve his country. Eventually, he dreams of earning a bachelor’s degree in either business or criminal justice.

“Homeless Youth Connection goes beyond meeting the basic needs of the young people they serve by addressing them holistically and setting a course toward achieving their dreams,” said Renee Parsons, co- founder, The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation. “Everyone deserves hope for a brighter future, and HYC helps  young people experiencing homelessness maintain that hope as they overcome great adversity.”

An integral part of the program is HYC’s strong relationships with host families to provide stable housing, food, transportation and all-around, at-home care and support throughout the youth’s academic journey. This allows each HYC youth to build stronger relationships and interpersonal skills, experience stability in their home life and learn positive life skills that lead to full independence.

During the 2023-2024 school year, HYC served more than 600 youth in Maricopa County and 21 youth in Coconino County. The nonprofit provides academic support and housing, along with employment, career development and financial literacy services.

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