In early 2009, the Sonoma Valley Fund established a Youth Initiative Committee to explore challenges facing Sonoma Valley’s youth in light of the late October 2008 murder of a Hispanic youth in Maxwell Park, the perceived low numbers of local students going on to college or meaningful jobs directly from high school, continuing reports of significant drug and alcohol problems among Valley youth, and for some observers, disappointing levels of student academic performance versus comparable schools around the state. In short, many knowledgeable people feel we need to do much better. In their view, unless significant improvements are made, the outlook for the long term health of our community in coming generations is bleak.
Over a nine-month period, the Committee met with more than sixty people, all of whom are intimately involved with youth issues in Sonoma Valley, including middle and high school students, parents, heads of youth-oriented nonprofits, school administrators and teachers, local experts, philanthropists, and others.
The outcome of these discussions was the development of specific recommendations to benefit Valley youth of all ages, with the primary focus on programs and activities directed at late elementary and middle school kids. To implement the recommendations, Sonoma Valley Fund formed the new Coordinating Council for Youth Development in Sonoma (CCYDS).
You can read the entire report which is divided into five sections here.
In 2012, Steve Pease wrote about the experience of incubating the Youth Initiative on the occasion of its finding a more permanent home with Sonoma Valley Unified School District. Read his account of the program and learn about its impact in Reflections on the Youth Initiative.