I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” but how many of us truly believe that, or better yet ask yourself—am I being a part of the village and contributing to making the community a better place?
The Neighborhood Youth Outreach Program (NYOP) was established in 1994 for that purpose and is currently located in Wilkinsburg. Since the early 1990s, NYOP has provided after-school programs for youth in surrounding areas. NYOP has had many success stories detailing how this program has turned around the lives of disadvantaged young people and guided them to a better life.
“When we ignore the chance to support organizations that positively impact our children, we witness the terrible social skills that destroy the fabric and order of our communities. We need to communicate to support arts education,” said Anthony Jackson, NYOP program director.
NYOP uses an arts-based curriculum that includes instrumental music, singing, dance, art, poetry and photography. All artistic forms of talent are in the Christian content.
“We are still in touch with the original students from our program and parenting and that gives us such joy that we had some influence early in their lives. The children that have been in the program since it evolved into an arts program have shown such wonderful growth in confidence,” Jackson said.
It was incorporated as a nonprofit organization and is governed by a board of directors.
NYOP began as an after-school program as a ministry of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in 1994. It became a 501C in 2004. The program has evolved through the years into the faith-based arts program that it is today.
Today, there are 35-40 youth involved in the program. Over the years the non-profit has thrived with a variety of funding. The majority of funding has come from generous individual donors, churches, and the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. While there has also been grants received from the Grable Foundation, McCune Foundation and the Dominic Foundation.
The outreach program highlights youths’ artistic talents. While the children also receive homework help and life lessons.
“We have had many occasions that the children’s lives have been touched by violence and sometimes the artistic classes get replaced with open discussions and ministering to the children.”
There is also a reading program provided by the Neighborhood Academy that some of the children are involved with. Twice a year the young people present a showcase of their art through performances to the community.
This outreach program provides a safe place, mentoring relationships and positive atmosphere. Relationships are a key piece as to why NYOP continues to grow.
School districts continue to cut programs for the arts and this fills a need for children and their parents. The kids have a safe place to come after school, complete homework, have a meal, work on crafts, have music class and dance class. NYOP is always open for more volunteers. They are currently seeking volunteers for homework help, guest speakers, artist, help with serving snacks and meals, and most importantly, financial help.
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