Yo Bro | Yo Girl Youth Initiative
2016-2017 Impact Report
Risk factors affecting children and youth in our communities are on the rise.
At Yo Bro | Yo Girl Youth Initiative we are committed to engaging at-risk youth in their schools and communities through a wide range of programs. Our goals is to empower youth with skills and values to realize their educational and career potential and contribute to the safety and well-being of their communities.
The Problem: Youth in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland face significant challenges as they enter high school. They often face these challenges alone.
Increased Gang Activity
Gang life can appear attractive to a youth who has been promised money, merchandise or power, and more importantly, a place to belong. From the Hells Angels to the United Nations, there are over 188 gangs active in BC alone. The recent rise in gang activity has caused cities like Surrey to become epicenters of violence and crime.
Culture of Violence
For young people not involved in criminal activity, simply being exposed to violence close to home puts them at risk. Youth exposed to violence exhibit increased rates of depression, aggression and delinquency, perform worse in school, and more often engage in risky sexual behavior.
Many teens are facing the challenges of adolescence without strong mentors watching out for them, a community to belong to and support system to lean on. Isolated and misguided, young people will turn to drugs, violence and illegal activity on their own – often connected with gangs.
Over 1,000 BC youth were incarcerated in 2016. It costs $150,000/year for one youth to be incarcerated in BC’s Criminal Justice System. That’s a total of $150,000,000 last year alone.
The Solution: Our range of programs for youth ages 11 - 18 builds trust, fosters resilience and creates a safe place to belong.
With your generous support, we have reached thousands of at-risk youth and connected them with mentors, peers and a community they can trust. During the 2016/17 school year, you enabled us to connect with 6,539 youth through our programs that range from school-wide presentations to one-on-one mentorship.
Meet Brandon: Yo Bro | Yo Girl’s Program Coordinator + Outreach Worker
“When I was 18, I was in a motorbike accident and almost died,” Brandon says. “The doctors put me on oxycontin and it was the beginning of a downward slide.” Oxycontin led to opioids. Opioids led to street heroin. And his addiction to street heroin led to Brandon entrenching himself in the criminal lifestyle of the drug trade.
“I didn’t care if I lived or died,” he remembers as he considers the fact that more than half of his life was spent addicted to drugs. “But after 18 years of living that lifestyle, I ended up in jail. I had time to reevaluate my choices.”
With two young sons waiting for him on the outside, Brandon was at a crossroads.“I realized that the things they saw me do were terrifying to them,” he remembers grimly. “I knew I had to change.”
Upon his release, Brandon went to school at Vancouver Community College to be a youth social worker and, during his practicum he met Joe. “The first time I came to YBYG, it was like family,” he remembers.
“The bond everyone here has is amazing - kids look out for one another and genuinely care. That’s a big part of what family is - looking out for one another and protecting one another.”
Today, Brandon is the Program Coordinator + Outreach Worker at Yo Bro | Yo Girl Youth Initiative. As Joe’s right hand man, Brandon has a vast array of responsibilities but the one he takes most seriously is his role as a mentor.
“When I was in jail I realized that everyone I knew had gotten into the criminal lifestyle because they were looking for a family,” Brandon reflects. “They were looking for a place to belong.” Brandon sees the same desire to belong in the youth that come to YBYG.
“They’re just looking for a place where people will watch out for them,” he explains. “Whether it’s a gang or it’s YBYG - belonging is at the core. So, we keep them engaged and in a safe environment - a place where they’re building up friendships, mentors and trust. Ultimately, we’re giving them a family - a place to belong.”
Financials + Our Future
The social, emotional and physical transition from elementary school to high school is challenging - particularly for kids that are already at risk. Gang recruitment, risky sexual behaviour and violence are becoming increasingly commonplace in Elementary Schools. That's why this year, we are expanding our prevention programs to reach kids in Grades 6 and 7 across the Lower Mainland. With this change, we are excited to provide even more youth with a safe place to belong and mentors who can watch out for them.
Learn more about our Fall 2017 Elementary School expansion from The Province, published September 6, 2017.
*This data reflects unaudited records of our revenue and expenses from September 1, 2016 - August 31, 2017. Audited financial statements will be available on our website later in the year.
Thank you to our Community Partners
We are grateful for the support and encouragement of all our community partners. We are committed to a culture of collaboration and truly believe that working together is the key to providing the support network that children and youth in our community so desperately need.
Law Enforcement Judo
Newton Recreation Centre
Odd Squad Productions
Princess Margaret Secondary School
Proceeds of Crime
South Surrey Learning Centre
Spectrum Alternate Education Program
Street Front Alternate Education Program
Surrey City Hall Public Safety Strategy
Surrey Fire Fighters
Surrey Parks and Recreation
Surrey Safe Schools
Tamanawis Secondary School
The Molnar Group
Trigate Development Corporation
Tsawwassen First Nation
Vancouver Police Department
Vancouver Social Venture Partners
Wales McLelland Construction
Western Hockey League
Britannia Community Centre
Britannia Community Secondary School
Britannia Elementary School
C.H.A.N.C.E. Shxwetetilthet Alternate School
Casa Di Coltellaro Development
Chilliwack Education Centre
Chilliwack Middle School
Chilliwack Restorative Justice
Churchill Secondary School
CIBC & CIBC Wood Gundy
City Central Learning Centre
Cloverdale Learning Centre
Delta Police Department
Delta School District – Alternate Program
Foundations Alternate Education Program
LA Matheson Secondary School
Law Enforcement Judo
Newton Recreation Centre