Monday, November 24, 2008

DSY: Development School for Youth

A contact from a recent networking event invited me to a graduation tonight. The graduates had just finished the All-Stars program as part of DSY: Development School for Youth. The group helps at-risk youth see and experience greater value for learning through performance-based education. You've heard this all before right? Get them to stay in school, off the streets, value and respect their educational opportunities, get them mentors, etc. etc. Originally, I urned down the invitation, but my networking contact wouldn't take no for an answer so I got myself together and headed downtown. I thought I knew what I was in for. I've sat through a myriad of these types of events, and I tell you, this one is different and special and worthy of your attention and mine. 

First, they treat kids as whole people. Get their creativity going, teach them to respect others and their communities, get them to see opportunity even if it isn't apparent on their street corner of their neighborhood. 

Second, the articulation and passion that these kids have is nothing short of miraculous. These are kids that were in gangs, school drop-outs, drug users. They've seen friends and family fall prey to those streets. It would be easy, and understandable, to watch them go down the same route. Instead, they are choosing a different way and they are expressing themselves through performance. Their blatant honesty and poise would put some corporate executives to shame. 

The third piece that I love about the program is that participants are set up with an internship as a capstone. They earn money and understand that getting up and getting to work everyday can be a rewarding, gratifying experience. They have mentors and coaches - people who care and are invested in their success. And that personal investment of time is making a difference. You can, too, at

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