Northwest Youth Services is committed to improving the lives of all Whatcom and Skagit County young people and their families. In order to do this effectively, and to make a positive impact on the communities we work and live in, we partner with other service providers, foundations, government agencies, school districts, elected officials, faith communities, businesses, and more. Below are a few of our recent collaborative efforts:
Love & Justice Project
The Love & Justice Project is a partnership between Northwest Youth Services and the First Congregational Church of Bellingham (FCCB). FCCB has generously offered to remodel a portion of their basement space to provide a daytime drop-in center for young adults age 18-25 who are experiencing homelessness. The Love & Justice Project aims to provide a safe space for all youth, especially LGBTQ-identified youth. This project is still in the planning stages – stay tuned and follow the Love & Justice Project on Facebook for more information.
22 North Project
22 North is a collaboration between Northwest Youth Services and the Opportunity Council. It will offer 40 studio apartments to adults experiencing homelessness – 20 of which will be designated for NWYS clients 18-25 through our permanent supportive housing program. 22 North will offer wrap-around support services to help residents meet their goals and support them on their journey to independence and prosperity. To learn more, or to donate to the 22 North Capital Campaign, click here.
Homeless Student Stability Program
Through the Homeless Student Stability Program (HSSP) grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce, Northwest Youth Services is able to partner with Bellingham School District and the Opportunity Council to support students experiencing homelessness. The HSSP grant allows us to work together to help stabilize homeless students and their families, allowing students to participate fully in school and be successful in meeting their goals. A Northwest Youth Services Case Manager is based in schools and able to directly connect students with the services they need. Said one young person: “It’s easier with the Case Manager here. If you weren’t in the school, I probably wouldn’t have sought you out, and I would have tried to figure it out myself. I’m comfortable at school, it’s my second home. I’m more comfortable talking to people here than if I go to a building I’ve never been to and talk to some clerk.”
Coalitions to End Homelessness
NWYS is a proud and active member in both the Whatcom County Coalition to End Homelessness and the Skagit County Coalition to End Homelessness. These Coalitions are filled with leaders in our communities, and spearhead the annual Project Homeless Connect and the Point-In-Time-Count. The Homeless Coalitions are charged with implementing the Whatcom County and Skagit County 10-year plans to end homelessness. To that end, both communities have turned towards a more effective approach to ending homelessness by using a Single Point of Entry system, which has been led and supported by the Homeless Coalitions. NWYS participates in Coalition committee work, including, but not limited to the Steering Committee, Communications Committee, Youth and Young Adult Planning Committee and the Employment Opportunity Committee. We are pleased to work alongside amazing agencies, community members and volunteers who make up these dynamic coalitions.
Ferndale School District and The Domestic Violence Commission
NWYS is working in collaboration with the Ferndale School District, the Bellingham-Whatcom County Commission Against Domestic Violence (BWCCADV), and Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS) on the STEP (Services, Training, Education and Policy) Project to improve student access to community support services and reduce rates of interpersonal violence. Ferndale was one of nine sites in the country awarded the STEP grant, focusing on building a holistic, supportive approach to domestic violence teen dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking at the school district level. NWYS is a key partner in this project for middle- and high-school students. Many youth are displaced from their homes due to domestic violence and sexual abuse — either through homelessness or running away to escape the violence. Through this project, NWYS can connect families in crisis to the PAD Program, for safe emergency housing for displaced youth aged 13-17, as well as case management to process the trauma and increase feelings of safety, self-reliance, community connection, and family stability.
Whatcom County CSEC Task Force
NWYS serves on the Whatcom County Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Task Force, which is facilitated by Access Freedom. The task force has implemented elements of the Statewide Model Protocol in responding to CSEC in Whatcom County. Other agencies/organizations that serve on the task force include: Bellingham Police Department, Ferndale Police, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department, SANE Nurses at the hospital, Department of Social and Human services (DSHS) Children’s Administration, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS), Engedi House, Brigid Collins, and Juvenile Detention and Probation. The Whatcom County Task Force is participating in data collection efforts to provide much needed information to the Statewide Coordinating Committee organized by the Attorney General, in order to make policy and legislation recommendations to support the needs of youth in Washington State.
AmeriCorps VISTA Program
Northwest Youth Services has benefited greatly from the support of two AmeriCorps VISTA positions – one in Whatcom County through the Opportunity Council, and one in Skagit County through Community Action of Skagit County. AmeriCorps VISTA members have supported Northwest Youth Services in building our capacity to serve young people, through their work on staff and community trainings, the expansion of our Vocational Readiness programs, building our fundraising, marketing, and volunteer programs, and more.