Pushing Through the Pandemic

The majority of FLY kids are youth of color, and confronting racism and systemic inequities is nothing new to them. We’ve seen this fact amplified during the pandemic, which has significantly impacted individuals and communities of color, and revealed the inequities faced by our youth and their families in healthcare access, in education with its many distance learning challenges, through the loss of jobs and income, and in the threat of eviction or other forced moves.

Youth and their families turned to us because they trust us and the economic downturn resulted in fewer resources available. We helped meet their basic needs and provided information to support their health and safety.

Our staff immediately adapted technology for virtual 1:1 meetings with kids, law classes, mentoring meetups, and even court appearances with youth. The collaboration and support of our partners in the juvenile justice, education, and other systems, as well as our funders, was exceptional.

Most importantly, our youth used the support and new resources we offered to push through barriers and focus on their life goals. We are inspired by their strength and commitment!

FLY programs add new elements

Here are a few examples of how FLY met the challenges of remaining a first-in-class youth service organization during a pandemic.

  • The photo at the top of the page shows our volunteer mentor Monica meeting with her youth through Zoom. Volunteer mentors are doing an amazing job of staying connected to their mentees and supporting them on their new paths.
  • The CAFA Mentor Program is holding virtual two-day trainings for new mentors and created an online classroom for their regular quarterly trainings. (Read more on our blog.)
  • Leadership Program staff have hosted virtual retreats to replace our traditional three-day wilderness retreats. They continue with virtual service learning projects to benefit their communities, and have fun together with game nights, virtual work-outs, and other on-line social events with youth.
  • FLY staff and volunteers are teaching law classes virtually in schools and their “classrooms” continue to grow. Virtual law facilitator training has also met with great success. (Read the full story.)
  • Law classes are also taking place in Juvenile Halls, where youth have been very engaged. Additionally, there are 1:1 Zoom sessions where youth can ask FLY facilitators questions that they may not be comfortable asking in a classroom setting
  • Youth who remain incarcerated have been especially isolated during this time. With the support of Probation, our supporters and other FLY youth sent them letters of hope and inspiration and care packages. As one youth said,

“It felt good to know that other people are thinking about us. Thanks for caring about us. I hope you guys are also staying safe and clean. We will get through this.”

  • Youth in facilities who are enrolled in our Reentry Program also attend law classes. In addition, we’re using video conferencing to develop service plans for those who are being released from custody and must quickly adjust to life under the shelter-in-place orders.
  • Case managers continue to support youth with their educational goals. In fact, 43 youth from across the agency participated in our first-ever virtual graduation ceremony this past July. (Read more here.)
  • With the help of Target and Amazon, the Reentry team put together care packages for our youth filled with goodies and delivered them directly to their homes. (Enjoy this video collage of some of the youth.)

Support our Youth

As the pandemic continues, we need more funds to provide our essential services in new and innovative ways. Please give today to help kids stay safe and keep working on their positive life goals.