Enterprise Not Enough

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Even the most enterprising of national groups that are not youth-specific can find launching, managing and sustaining a youth development program an insurmountable challenge. Take the Columbia, Maryland, Enterprise Foundation (EF), a mostly grant-eating, not grant-making nonprofit, which launched the Community Youth Development Initiative (CYDI) in the spring of 1999. Teaming up to manage the venture were two of the Enterprise Foundation's 400-member staff, Gary Ivory, then director of community assets, and Fran Lorenzi, then a senior program director. Financed by foundation grants and the Justice Department's COPS program, and aided by six AmeriCorps Promise Fellows from the Corporation for National Service, the CYDI business plan called for the much-needed linking of the worlds of community development and youth development in eight cities including Charlotte, N.C. But the promise quickly faded, and by the summer of 2000 CYDI was just another failed enterprise.

Says Ivory of getting the two fields to work together, "It's extremely, extremely hard to do." Of the eight targeted cities, only Charlotte got modest results. While the other cities, such as Cleveland and Baltimore, harbored citywide ambitions, the Charlotte operation focused on Lakewood, a low-income, 500-family neighborhood that lacks a single year-round youth program. Youth worker Craig Murray, the only former AmeriCorps Promise Fellow with current ties to the Enterprise Foundation, reports that with the help of the YMCA and two churches, a neighborhood summer day camp called Lakewood Partners is striving to become a year-round youth center and has established a youth council. But it has no money to move ahead.

With little to show for its CYDI venture, EF has turned to that old reliable in grantsmanship for youth services: crime. In 1999 EF hired George Rice to direct its Safety & Neighborhood Leadership Division. The division's Community Safety Program "links neighborhood revitalization efforts and crime reduction strategies" in nearby Baltimore, New York and Atlanta, along with small cities like Selma, Ala., and Poughkeepsie, N.Y. EF is also leading a joint venture "that views youth as assets and key community stakeholders." Venturing forth with EF into this safe venture are the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (the D.C.-based association of federally required, gubernatorially appointed state advisory groups that dispense Juvenile Justice Act formula grants in each participating state), the National Association of School Resource Officers, and the D.C.-based American Youth Policy Forum. In the works is yet another manual: the Youth Crime Prevention Manual, hardly a product likely to blaze creative entrepreneurial trails. More imaginative is the Community Safety Virtual Campus, an Internet-based interactive training resource for police and other anti-crime workers. Currently on offer is a course on "Preventing Job Burnout." Reached in Dallas, where he is now vice president for Texas operations for Harrisburg, Pa.-based Youth Advocates, Ivory confirmed that that was one course he'd failed to take while at EF.

Contact: (410) 772-2457 or www.enterprisefoundation.org.