New Avenues for Youth helps at-risk teens in Portland overcome homelessness

Portland, OR–based nonprofit New Avenues for Youth has been helping marginalized homeless youth since 1997. Today, it is a growing part of the local community, and is focused on meeting basic needs for at-risk youth while also providing them with access to skills and resources to help them lead successful, healthy and productive lives. Through services like meals and housing, GED programs through its fully accredited on-site high school, counseling and job-readiness programs, New Avenues for Youth provides the support and tools young adults need to transition on a path out of homelessness, and connects the community to the mission through its social enterprises.

In 2016, New Avenues for Youth was named a Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® award recipient. As a recipient, the organization received $200,000 in flexible grant funding, and leadership development and training for its executive director and an emerging leader in the organization. The Neighborhood Builders award helped New Avenues for Youth expand its existing services and grow geographically. In early 2017, the organization was able to open the Youth Opportunity Center, a new service hub outside of Portland, in East Multnomah County.

“With the support of Bank of America and the Neighborhood Builders award, we were able to realize a vision for this organization,” said Jessica Elkan, Director of Development and Communications at New Avenues for Youth. “We have the power to see young people overcome extreme hardships, but still walk out on the other side with a life of possibilities.”

The organization also operates social enterprises, including a screen-printing business, New Avenues INK, and an apparel company, dfrntpigeon. The businesses allow young adults at New Avenues for Youth the opportunity to develop workplace skills, gain experience and earn a paycheck.

“I was homeless and ended up getting into the job-readiness training at New Avenues for Youth,” said former New Avenues for Youth client Meghaan Davis. “It helped me with skills like interviewing and updating my resume. From there, things just took off in the right direction for me.”

Since 2004, Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders program has helped advance sustainable communities by investing more than $220 million in 49 communities — partnering with more than 1,000 nonprofits and more than 2,000 nonprofit leaders and counting.

Learn more about how the Neighborhood Builders program helps nonprofit partners advance economic mobility and supports skills development for nonprofit leaders, powering nonprofits like New Avenues for Youth to build thriving communities.

Originally published 1/28/2019

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