YES Tech

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Youth Enrichment Services
City & State:
West Islip, 
New York
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

To serve and empower youth and their families while creating a safe and healthy environment.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Youth Enrichment Services (YES), a non profit, maintains a tight budget. TechSoup allowed us to buy hardware and software to provide high quality free programs. Motorola provided funding for two technology centers with computers, printers and adaptive equipment/software for individuals with special needs. Due to the low-cost of the Microsoft software, YES was able to add additional workstations to serve more youth. This helps us focus on our primary mission-to serve and empower youth and their families while creating a safe and healthy environment and our vision to foster a higher quality of life for youth and families. Microsoft XP and Office Suite 2007 has greatly enhanced our communication about who we are to perspective donors.

Microsoft Picture Manager stores and display agency photos; Publisher helps create informative newsletters, brochures and flyers to “get the word out” about YES and PowerPoint presentations are instrumental in highlighting our positive, life affirming programs and services. Word and Excel are also excellent tools for preparing grants and budgets for perspective funders. These technologies have helped raise millions of dollars over the past several years. This funding has led to many successful initiatives.

YES provides programs and services in the high needs areas of Bay Shore, Brentwood, Central Islip and in West Islip all hamlets located in Suffolk County, NY. Programs and services are aimed at youth development, empowerment, delinquency/violence and gang prevention with special emphasis on at-risk youth and youth with special needs. YES programs: daily after school and Saturday enrichment programs, Mentoring, AmeriCorps, youth volunteerism, Work Readiness, Youth Leadership Project, multicultural theater and art, discussion groups, tutoring, homework help, recreation, summer programs, teen socials and events, community and parent education and community outreach/referral advocacy. All programs are free and inclusive of all youth. In 2008, YES served over 5,000 youth and 4,000 adults due in no small part to the TechSoup Microsoft Donation Program.

Work Readiness is one of our most important programs. It prepares at risk and high school dropouts for the workforce through job skills training and portfolio preparation. The use of basic Microsoft software is an important tool in this process. Preparing a portfolio for potential employers is a great way for youth to land a first job. This collection of documents is an effective strategy to highlight skills, strengths and talents to a potential employer. The employer is impressed by having insight into a young person’s achievements, character and work ethic.

Microsoft Word is critical in creating many of the documents in the portfolio such as the personal profile, resume/fact sheet, five year plan, samples of work, references, etc. Many of our youth do not own or have access to computers so we often need to teach basic computer skills such as Internet, setting up e-mail, creating documents, etc. Youth research jobs and other opportunities on the internet and also learn how to apply online and upload documents. The youth also use Word formatting and editing tools to check for spelling and grammar, which is particularly useful for many of our youth whose primary language is not English. These youth also use MS Office language packs. Their acquired technological skills can then be noted on their resumes. Upon completion of the Work Readiness program, youth have an organized, professional portfolio that helps to build confidence and self-esteem as they meet with potential employers.

Recently, an employer was so impressed with the efforts of our youth he agreed to do interviews and review portfolios. As a result, several youth were offered jobs at his company for the summer. They will need to use their newly acquired technology skills and knowledge of Microsoft programs.

Another key program is Mentoring. Our goal is to match a mentor to every youth. Mentoring relationships have proven to be an essential part of social emotional learning. YES mentoring includes: golf and tennis, Youth Leadership Project, E-Mentoring, Peer, Traditional, and Career Mentoring. Mentoring provides youth the opportunity to positively interact with an adult role model.

E-Mentoring is a valuable component in all YES mentoring models. Youth are exposed to the “whole” computer. They not only learn computer basics, they use e-mail to connect to their mentors via iMentor which supervises communication between mentors and youth. The specialized software ensures safety. We recruit mentors from businesses including Computer Associates, AmeriCorps, municipal employees and local colleges. E-Mentoring fosters regular, ongoing communication which has changed the face of mentoring in the traditional sense and has increased the effectiveness of the mentoring relationship because mentors now play a more constant role in the youth’s life.

Youth Leadership Project is for youth with disabilities. The program uses traditional weekly mentoring to increase self-advocacy and independent living skills of the youth. Microsoft technology plays an important role in accomplishing these goals. Our youth have truly embraced computers as a viable tool to use in life and to communicate with the “outside” world. Individuals with Down Syndrome or Autism differ considerably in their language and communication skills. Early behavioral or cognitive intervention can help them gain self-care, social, and communication skills. Computers are a learning tool for youth with special needs and have effectively aided us in teaching independent living and self advocacy skills.

Our youth learned to use Microsoft Word and recently wrote letters, with the help of their mentors, to elected representatives to advocate for more funding and less cuts to vital services. One youth wrote “YES is the only place I fit in, I love my mentor please don’t take him away.” This communication is just the beginning. The youth are now using the computer to communicate with their mentors, friends, research jobs, academics, community events, post entries on blogs including their own PowerPoint YLP presentation that showcases YLP and they keep up with current events. All of this bolsters their communication and writing skills which are critical to independent living. These activities may seem simple but they have opened up our youth to a whole new world which will impact their lives forever.

YES, a grassroots community based organization, is able to provide the highest quality programming and technology to our community. Microsoft helps us meet our mission and teaches our youth to use the newest PCs and Microsoft software to better participate in this technologically advanced world in which we live, work and play. YES has increased its outreach which has led to an increased number of youth accessing our vital services which has led to a greater impact on the community.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery