Since 1992 Youth Impact has been serving youth who reside in Ogden’s inner-city neighborhoods. The program started with less than a dozen young people who were originally brought together by their participation in a program called the Ulster Project.
Youth Impact’s current director today was an American counselor during the 1992 Ulster Project. Upon seeing the desire and need for the host teens to continue their friendships once the Irish teens had returned home, a commitment was made to gather one night a week for the remainder of the summer. Mondays were set aside for the teens to visit and continue their established friendships. The small Episcopal Church downtown was to be their meeting place.
The first few gatherings consisted of pizza and simple socialization. After a few weeks a guest speaker was thrown into the schedule and service project was suggested, planned and carried out. Within a couple of months the Monday evening gathering of pizza and socializing was beginning to take on a structured pattern. Young people who lived in the neighborhood would stop and inquire about the activities that were taking place. Always welcoming to any and all, the kids were invited in and the numbers began to steadily grow.
By the end of the following school year, the faces who had gathered originally as a result of the Ulster Project were replaced by the faces in the neighborhood surrounding the church. The Episcopal Church recognized the importance of these young people and their need to have a safe place to gather and socialize in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Without any initial intentions or plans, the unofficial program had found its cause. With so many young people attending these events and so many different walks of life making up its diversity, the program officially adopted its new name, Youth Impact.
Programs continued to grow over the next few years and new faces were coming on a regular basis. The director’s family members played the role of mentors and role-models as well as many young adults in the community. By the year 2000, an informal partnership with Weber State University had been formed and students from the Social Science Department were beginning to put in required service hours within the walls of Youth Impact. Mentoring and community service had become focal points of the program.
Very supportive and conscious of the rapid growth that Youth Impact was undergoing, the Vestry of Good Shepherd began looking for property which could house and become a new home for the program. Many locations were evaluated and taken into consideration over the next year. Priorities were placed on location and the physical building itself. Extensive research was put into the local buildings in Ogden’s inner-city area, none of which met the criteria desired.
In the later part of 2000, Youth Impact caught the attention of a foundation that had ties to the Ogden area. An incredible facility just one block from the church was being vacated and future plans for the building had not yet been decided. A lunch meeting with the foundation’s president and the Youth Impact Director was arranged. Lunch went very well and within a matter of days an un-official donation of the vast facility had been made to our program.
With the legal work accomplished, the building was donated to the Episcopal Diocese of Utah with very specific guidelines as to how the facility would be used. It was at that time that Youth Impact left the walls and umbrella of Good Shepherd and became an outreach program of Episcopal Community Services of Utah. A donation of $500,000 was made by the Diocese of Utah and renovations to the donated facility were underway. By the summer of 2001 Youth Impact had moved one block north of the church which housed, supported and nurtured its way for nearly ten years. The Browning-Jubilee Center was consecrated in August of 2001 and Youth Impact had started yet another incredible chapter of its history.
From 2001- 2008, the Youth Impact Program had maintained a constant enrollment of at least 150 participants to that point. During the transition time from the church into the new facility, many thoughts became policies. Our target population was directed to children who reside in Ogden’s inner-city limits, the government has deemed these neighborhoods as Enterprise Community Neighborhoods. According to HUD, Ogden has two of the four poorest neighborhoods in the state. The Indian Reservation is listed as 1, Lewis Neighborhood as 2, Dee Neighborhood as 3, and the Glendale community in Salt Lake City as 4. Any child in grades 4-12 is eligible, but transportation is limited to youth who reside in Ogden and its nearby neighborhoods. In January of 2008 we began maintaning an enrollment over 200 youth.
The Private status of the Youth Impact Program has allowed for it to be particular in which agencies it partners with. The Ogden City Community Police, Ogden Raptors Professional Baseball Org., Autoliv and Weber State University are some of our strongest partners. These relationships have continued to grow over the years. The Ogden Raptors hold employed positions for our youth during the summer and Weber State University is the center for the majority of our volunteers. No less than 120 Weber State University students give of their time each semester and a data research class from the Social Department has adopted the Youth Impact Program for its on-going project. A commitment of 10 years has been given in regard to short-term and long-term studies. This is a substantial note for the program and in the fund-raising efforts for the future.
Youth Impact has garnered support over the years from many foundations in our community. The Swanson Family Foundation, Browning-Kimball Foundation, American Dream Foundation Daniels Fund, and the George S & Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation are some of the most generous supporters of todays program. While the Episcopal Diocese of Utah has been the program’s backbone for the past eight years, parishioners from Good Shepherd Episcopal Church continue to make individual donations and have always been a vital part of our funding resources.
Today’s program consists of daily transportation from 20-25 different schools. Snacks are provided at sign-in and a variety of organized daily programs are accessible to the participants. Notable areas of the program are in the Study Hall, Arts & Crafts / Garden Area, Hobby Shop, Recreational Sports and in the daily mentoring of youth. Dinner is served daily and participants are given a ride home to their front door after each and every Youth Impact sponsored event.
Youth Impact was built on relationships. Staff and volunteers help to fill the void in many of our participant’s lives in regard to parental support and positive relationships. Participants are not statistics at Youth Impact; it is the desire for all staff to know each and every child who walks through the door. By cultivating a personal relationship with participants, staff becomes aware of the dynamics in each life; who is dealing with poverty, drugs, incarceration of a parent, gang influences and the general needs of that child for the day. Staff at Youth Impact plays the role of consistency in the participant’s lives and that is the key to the success of the program today.
Youth Impact was not one individual’s intention, nor was its purpose today even fathomed some 16 years prior. The beauty of this program is that a cause found us; the rewards come from the program faces of today and the accolades from those who have participated in the past.
In July of 2006, Youth Impact Inc., a Utah nonprofit corporation was established, as a new legal entity separate from our previous identity as an unincorporated division of Episcopal Community Services. We have our own IRS Employer Identification Number (#20-5228230), and are fully tax exempt under Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Today’s program is guided by an active Board of Trustees and motivated staff members that continue to mentor our youth at the highest level.