After extensive data collection, the Philadelphia Youth Network has created a new vision for the organization that promotes academic, economic, and personal success.
The nonprofit recently released a three-year strategic plan for poverty alleviation through education and employment. The plan includes unifying resources, focusing on vulnerable populations, and collaborating with nonprofits outside Philadelphia in order to sustainably serve about 20,000 youth a year by 2020.
“Education and employment were our means, not our ends,” said PYN president and CEO Chekemma Townsend.
Townsend said the group examined and re-evaluated its broader vision.
“When we looked at our results, it became glaringly apparent that it was not just about work or education,” Townsend said.
”Where we’re focused is addressing the needs of young people who are inadvertently impacted by poverty and systemic inequities.”
The new strategic vision for the group has three parts: “system builder,” “innovation incubator,” and “strategic consultant.”
System-building will align policy and funding by unifying resources within and outside PYN.
“Change happens in a community, and no one person can solve a complex problem by themselves,” Townsend said.
PYN’s innovation incubator will find solutions for the most adversely affected populations of youth served and add to already-implemented programs.
Strategic consulting from PYN will involve collaboration among similar youth nonprofits in other big cities.
“This is not a challenge unique to Philadelphia,” Townsend said. “We have to learn from each other and share our lessons learned.” This includes partnerships in Detroit and other cities.
PYN formed its strategic vision using feedback from many stakeholders, including philanthropic partners, community-based organizations, policymakers, and young people.
“If there was a 360-[degree] view, we really tried to focus on different ways we effect change, who those partners are, what they think, and what we need to do,” Townsend said.
External facilitators also collected data from community members.
Townsend said she hopes that community members will continue to participate in, benefit from, and provide feedback for PYN’s programs.
“This is really, really important for us, constructing a universal group of folks.”