As the new year approaches, we want to take a moment to review everything we accomplished this past year. 2019 brought achievements and challenges that pushed us to reflect on our work and further our mission of ending youth homelessness. With your help, we had an incredible year. Check out some of our favorite highlights from 2019 below!
New year, new website
We kicked off 2019 with a bang by launching our new website! The team worked for over a year to design our new website thoughtfully—ensuring it is highly accessible, easy to navigate, and engaging to our visitors.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our new look!
Did you know that February was Seattle’s snowiest month on record? The snow impacted the entire region—but the frigid temperatures and prolonged snow hit especially hard for young people experiencing homelessness. Our community’s response to our calls for support amazed us and enabled our programs to stay open so young people didn’t have to freeze outside. Special shout-out to our incredible staff and to Springhill Suites by Marriott for donating guest rooms free-of-charge so staff could rest and sleep overnight to serve youth at the Orion Center. Check out our blog post to read more!
Historic state legislative session
2019 was a groundbreaking legislative session for housing and homelessness advocates! Some of the key achievements included:
- Historic amounts of funding in the Housing Trust Fund, our state’s primary source for constructing and preserving affordable housing.
- Allowing youth to stay in shelters through a Child in Need of Services petition: this created, for the first time, a legal pathway for youth to stay beyond the 60-day shelter limit if they have no alternative place to go.
- Phasing out the use of detention for non-criminal offenses such as truancy or running away from foster care. Research shows that jailing minors for noncriminal behavior is ineffective at best and deeply traumatic at worst.
- Creating a workforce education investment to train Washington students for Washington jobs. This will develop a statewide infrastructure to connect youth to high-paying jobs in our state’s economy.
Making it official: National Safe Place Week
Run in partnership with Friends of Youth, our Safe Place program is a vital service that quickly connects runaway and homeless youth ages 12-17 to services through a 24-hour hotline. We were excited to make National Safe Place Week—a week to raise awareness and celebrate valued community partners—#OFFICIAL with a proclamation recognition from both the City of Seattle and King County Council!
Our most successful luncheon—ever!
Almost 1,200 people from around the community joined us at our annual luncheon to hear incredible stories from YouthCare alumni, Nafsiya, Creole, and Natalie. Together, we raised more than $800,000 for youth experiencing homelessness—our most ever.
Check out the recap video below to relive this amazing day with us!
YouthCare’s annual prom: a 90s affair
YouthCare hosted its annual prom, where young people experiencing homelessness could dance the night away and feel the privilege of, well, simply being young. Voted by youth, the theme was the ’90s! Young people could choose if they wanted to dress up in trendy ’90s fashion, or wear a traditional prom dress or suit. Seeing young people flaunt their personal style inspired and moved us. We’re counting down the days until Prom 2020!
Winning an annual inflationary adjustment for Seattle-contracted human service providers
YouthCare joined a broad coalition of human service providers this summer to advocate for an annual inflation adjustment in our city contracts. Every year inflation rises, but human services contracts do not. As a result, providers must rely on limited flexible funds just to keep up with the costs of doing business, such as maintaining facilities, repairing broken equipment, paying utilities—funds that could otherwise be used to compensate staff with what they need to afford to live in this city.
Throughout the campaign, young people, staff, and board members showed up for hearing after hearing, testifying to Councilmembers about the impacts of constant turnover and empty positions on our services and clients. After months of testimony, calls, letters, and rallies outside of City Hall, we were successful, and Council passed the legislation unanimously!
While an inflation adjustment does not address the historic underfunding of the field, it was a positive step and exciting achievement for the field!
Watch YouthCare alum Triston speak to our councilmembers on the issue, below!
James Place Studios at YouthCare opens!
In July, we were thrilled to open a new independent living program, James Place Studios! We could not have done it without the incredible building developers, Jerry and John, and our community, who rushed to support young people ready to move into their first apartments. You helped us surpass our goal of $18,000 to get all thirteen studios ready for move-in, with appliances, furniture, bedding, lamps, and a stocked kitchen. Amazing!
“I can’t get over my new place…and this view!” – Young person moving into a top-floor unit at James Place
We won Aetna’s Voices of Health Competition!
A community member nominated YouthCare to be a finalist in Aetna’s Voices of Health Competition! We were honored to join three other incredible nonprofits in this recognition. As part of the competition, we shared a video of Danee, a YouthCare staff member for more than a decade. Danee highlighted YouthCare’s impact and why it is our shared responsibility to commit to ending youth homelessness. Thanks to our wonderful supporters, we won the contest, including a prize of $20,000 to put toward our mission.
Check out Danee below!
We boosted our social media presence!
- This month, YouthCare launched our official Instagram profile—at last! We can’t wait to use this new platform to share stories with the community. You can expect visual snapshots of YouthCare news, fun moments across programs, and behind-the-scenes glimpses into the work we do every day! Be sure to follow us at @YouthCareSEA so you never miss a thing!
- Facebook Fundraising on behalf of YouthCare is now live! Have a birthday coming up? Hosting a party or event? You design the campaign—possibilities are endless! Personal Facebook fundraisers are a fun, easy, and secure way to raise funds and support YouthCare’s mission. Start a Facebook fundraiser here!
Thanks for being a part of our community as we look forward to a new decade at YouthCare. See you in 2020!