Genma Speaks

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Friday, February 27, 2009

The Nation’s First “First Promise Place”, To Be Dedicated in Nashville

Nashville’s Youth Opportunity Center, which has been named the nations first “Promise Place” by America’s Promise Alliance, will be dedicated on Saturday, February 28th, from 10 a.m. until noon.

Mayor Karl Dean will participate in the formal building dedication and open house at the 1700 Charlotte Pike facility that houses representatives and offices for ten different youth-serving organizations.

The Youth Opportunity Center (YOC) will serve thousands of youth in Middle Tennessee annually through nine collaborating agencies that collectively offer more than 30 different programs, including health care, job assistance, counseling, education support, emergency residential services and youth leadership opportunities. It also includes a 1,800-square-foot conference and training center that will be home to Nashville’s “Quality Counts” initiative.

The YOC marks several “firsts” in the history of Nashville. It will provide the city’s first college access center, the city’s first teen clinic, and the city’s first drop in center for runaway and homeless youth.

“In addition to giving youth throughout Nashville a one-stop shop that addresses almost any need they would ever have, the Youth Opportunity Center is also going to save our community tremendous resources through an innovative back-office administrative partnership with the member agencies”, said Jim Kelley, President of the Oasis Center Board of Directors. “It is truly a win-win-win”.

The YOC will serve as a model for communities across the nation as the country’s first “Promise Place” by America’s Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest partnership committed to providing youth with the Five Promises – caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, an effective education and opportunities to help others. Promise Places deliver all of these supports under one roof.

The formation and operation of the YOC has been and will remain truly a community effort. l The organizations providing YOC services are STARS Nashville and Kids on the Block, Oasis Center, United Neighborhood Health Services, the Nashville Prevention Partnership, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee, Metro Nashville Public Schools, GalaxyStar, the Nashville Career Advancement Center, Hands on Nashville and Mid-Cumberland Human Resource Agency. The capital campaign to fund the project has raised 97% of its $8.5m goal through local individuals, businesses and foundations.
“The true impact of this collaboration will be told in the years to come,” said John Robinson, chairman of the board of STARS Nashville. “It is extraordinary to witness the concept coming to fruition, a handful of like-minded youth agencies banding together to provide a continuum of care for each deserving young person who walks through any door at the Youth Opportunity Center. For us, for our youth, there is no wrong door. All doors lead to opportunity, healing, hope and empowerment. It just feels right.”

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