Services To Youth
The primary goals of the Services To Youth facet are to:
- Close the achievement gap from pre-K through college, with the intent of preparing our youth for the global workforce as healthy citizens
- Promote the integration of a health and wellness component focused on youth, families and communities in our Services to Youth programs
- Develop training modules for local pre-K through college mentoring programs, to ascertain a high level of support for youth in our communities
- Expand and support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and promote the integration of the arts (STEM to STEAM)
- Promote and support historically black colleges and universities for ensured sustainability
In 1958, only twelve years in the evolution of our organization, under the leadership of President Pauline Maloney, the National Assembly adopted the first program facet, “Educating for Democracy,” which later became SERVICES TO YOUTH. The objective of this program facet was to aid minority youth in America to find and fulfill their intellectual potential. Thousands of youth benefited from this program facet and it has continued to expand and serve youth of African descent locally and globally since its inception.
SERVICES TO YOUTH
The program embraced by this facet had its origin in the Spotlight, a handbook drafted by Links member Bernice Munce. The original goals of this facet were to:
- Identify those issues and areas in the respective communities where utilization of resources, talents, and skills can make a difference such as providing programs that help eliminate teenage pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, crime and juvenile delinquency.
- Address educational issues as a basis for attaining and/or maintaining positive self- esteem.
- Provide programs that help children develop self-esteem and good decision-making skills.
- Provide programs that increase the literacy rate among our youth as well as programs that nurture the potential of youth.
For years, the Services to Youth facet has provided excellence in programming. As a result of President Eisenhower’s Conference on Minority Resources, which emphasized the potential of minority youth, The Links, Incorporated, at its 10th National Assembly (New York City 1958), pledged itself to a “Talent Search” as the major goal of a new national program. “Educating for Democracy” was chosen as the theme under which a search for “academically talented and/or gifted youth” was to be undertaken by all chapters. Programs designed to nurture the potential of youth would be devised by participating chapters. The program was pursued experimentally for four years.
During the period 1958 – 1962, operating under the “Educating for Democracy” theme, more than 2,000 gifted youth were discovered. There was a need to broaden our base if the goal of “leadership in depth” was to be achieved. The 1962 Assembly (French Lick, Indiana) articulated this need by voting to continue the program and expand its coverage.
Services to Youth efforts historically have been, and continue to be directed toward eliminating the problems of youths of African ancestry and their families in eight target areas: Teenage pregnancy, juvenile crime and delinquency, alcohol and substance abuse, mental and emotional illnesses/disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, family dysfunction, unemployment, and educational access, opportunity and achievements. Because the target areas are so intertwined, prevention/intervention strategies were applied to alleviate these issues.
Through a grant received from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, National and Area Services to Youth leaders participated in program development training on drug and alcohol abuse prevention. The participants in turn provided a series of workshops on the chapter, area and national levels.
Through “Youth Eighties Survival – A Family Affair,” Links chapters united to educate and encourage African American families to teach children how to avoid drugs and to provide opportunities through which positive self-esteem and a feeling of hope for the future would be nurtured and reinforced.
During the 1988-1990 Biennium, Ninth National President Regina Jollivette Frazier, and the Executive Council of The Links, Incorporated approved the formation of a Self- Esteem Task Force. Its primary purpose was to strengthen and support the efforts of PROJECT LEAD: HIGH EXPECTATIONS, a $1 million+ program funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Under the aegis of this task force, a partnership was established with the Library of Congress in its national literacy campaign, “1991 – Year of the Lifetime Reader.” Chapters continue to network with other national organizations in developing and implementing programs which address educational issues as a basis for attaining and/or maintaining positive self-esteem.
During the administration of Marion Schultz Sutherland, Tenth National President, an effort was made to further empower youth to “Just Say No” to substance abuse and other negative influences. From 1990-1994, Services to Youth spearheaded Operation SEED (Self-Esteem Enrichment Day) as a national observance. Through this project, the organization utilized individual and chapter resources in a creative manner to increase awareness of the need of a healthy self-concept/self-worthiness and a greater sense of personal and social responsibility and accountability. Innovative programs were developed to address critical youth issues in a more positive and supportive way.
The Services to Youth facet is a dynamic facet that allows members a variety of choices in implementing programs that meet the needs of children within our local and global communities.