Why I Give to Strategies for Youth

Join our generous donors in supporting our mission.

Mail check to:
Strategies for Youth
P.O. Box 390174
Cambridge MA 02139

Jerrell Bratcher has worked with youth as both a community school’s coordinator and a charter school administrator.

Jerrell Bratcher

I donate to Strategies for Youth because Juvenile Justice Jeopardy gets through to kids.

SFY came to play Juvenile Justice Jeopardy at the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center. Initially the youth at the center were openly hostile and resentful about playing, but with each question they got more and more engaged. This is the first time I’ve seen kids refuse to leave a detention center—they wanted more time to play Jeopardy. That amazed me. There is no truer response than youth who want to keep learning.

I’ve been a champion for Strategies for Youth since our first phone call. I called looking for a comprehensive program to help youth foster positive relationship with peers, teachers, and law enforcement. SFY does it all: training police…teaching youth…and reaching out to parents.

SFY’s approaches have been missing from the mix in Baltimore for decades. There were issues involving youth and law enforcement, way before the Freddie Gray incident in 2015. As adults, we can often see danger written all over a situation before kids can. But Baltimore lacked programs and resources to change the scope of youths’ actions and options—and those of police.

Now Baltimore has another strategy, a tool that is effective.

Rebecca Humphrey is the Youth Services Executive Director for Tippecanoe County, Indiana.

Rebecca Humphrey

I support Strategies for Youth because their training helps our officers to be more effective when dealing with youth.

In Tippecanoe County, we have used every single program Strategies for Youth has to offer.

I’m proud to report that we have trained nearly all our sheriff’s deputies and city patrol officers. The officers are enthusiastic about it. I hear officers encouraging other police officers to take this training. The most typical thing we read on their evaluations is, “I wish I would have had this training 25 years ago.”

But better, yet, for the first time ever, resisting law enforcement, disorderly conduct, and battery on law enforcement are no longer among the top 5 reasons kids get arrested in Tippecanoe County. Our juvenile arrests keep dropping, with significantly fewer felonies each year.

833 juvenile arrest in 2013
755 juvenile arrest in 2016
646 juvenile arrest in 2017 (as of 11/28/17)

The big difference has been Strategies for Youth’s programming.

Mark Sterk works for Spokane Public Schools as the Director of Safety, Risk Management & Transportation.

Mark Sterk

Policing the Teen Brain training helps our officers be more empathetic to kids who have experienced trauma.

In the past, our Campus Resource Officers saw themselves as police officers with enforcement as the primary tool to keep our schools safe. After the training our focus is on building relationships with kids. This has been a much more productive long term strategy in helping us provide a safe environment for our kids and our staff. We’re a fan for sure!

One of the things I know for sure is that Strategies for Youth’s Policing the Teen Brain™ training helped us to shift the Campus Resource Officer culture in the Spokane Public Schools. The training was common sense and helped my officers better understand how to relate with teens, especially those whose lives have been affected by trauma.

Learning how to communicate with kids who have experienced trauma in their lives was one of our goals and the Strategies for Youth training was spot on. It has helped our officers be more empathetic with kids who need our help the most.

Brigitte Dorr-Guiser is a Police Sergeant for the Cleveland Division of Police.

Brigitte Dorr-Guiser

Policing the Teen Brain helps reduce tension between officers and youth.

About two years ago, when Strategies for Youth came to train officers in Cleveland, tensions were high between Cleveland police officers and the city’s youth. Then officers attended SFY’s Policing the Teen Brain training. They appreciated how to reduce that tension and interact with youth in a more positive, respectful way.

Officers routinely tell me that the training helps them better understand the mindset and behaviors of the young people they interact with daily.

Having an understanding of the teen brain, how it is different from adults, and how youth are affected by poverty and exposure to violence—has been very helpful to Cleveland officers. And SFY’s help connecting us to the extensive network of Cleveland’s youth serving organizations was the “icing on the cake” for officers who are trying to help kids and looking for alternatives to arrest.