by Joanne Sciulli in the fall of 2000 to help address the tremendous need for positive youth development opportunities in New Haven’s low-income neighborhoods. , developed by founding youth and adults, is to provide opportunities for young people to develop a positive sense of self and connection and commitment to others through programs that incorporate environmental exploration, leadership development and community service. is for the youth of New Haven to be healthy and happy stewards of their communities and own lives, who are prepared and motivated to succeed in life.
Solar Youth has enrolled nearly 5,900 young people in its programs including… Over 425 are teenagers who have been hired and trained as paid Youth Educators and Green Jobs Apprentices. Participants have experienced hundreds of out-of-neighborhood explorations, and completed 334 Community Service Action Projects (C-SAPs) and 202 Public Education Projects (PEPs). Today, Solar Youth has an annual enrollment of 600-700.
Solar Youth served 469 youth, with a total enrollment of 602 (many youth participate in multiple programs) Solar Youth offered 61 paid internships for New Haven teens Solar Youth coordinated 109 off-site explorations Solar Youth Stewards designed and implemented 30 Community Service Action Projects (C-SAPs) and 9 Public Education Projects (PEPs) Of the 128 STEWARDS surveyed: o 97% indicated that being in Solar Youth makes them want to do well in school o 95% indicated that Solar Youth helps them become more actively engaged in learning new things o 91% indicated that they would recommend Solar Youth to their friends o 94% indicated they would like to participate in Solar Youth again in the future Of the 113 PARENTS surveyed: o 93% indicated that because of Solar Youth their child likes to help others o 91% indicated that Solar Youth has helped their child become more accountable for his/her actions o 100% indicated that they would recommend Solar Youth to other parents o 100% indicated they would like to see their child in Solar Youth again in the future
Following Solar Youth’s unique program model - Kids Explore! Kids Do! Kids Teach! - youth investigate local ecology (Kids Explore!); then design and implement Community Service Action Projects that address issues of importance to them (Kids Do!); and then teach what they learned and accomplished to others through Public Education Projects (Kids Teach!).
Solar Youth targets low-income communities whose youth are at risk for participating in behaviors that set them on a lifelong path of poverty, violence and poor health; communities that have few or no opportunities for youth to engage in constructive activities outside regular school hours. To have a truly transformational impact on the lives of the youth, Solar Youth created a menu of programs called the “Cycle of Stewardship” for youth ages 4 to 18+, designed for youth to build on experiences over time, gaining critical Developmental Assets and taking on new roles and responsibilities as they build leadership skills. Solar Youth programs take place 4 to 6 days a week every month of the year and are offered after-school, in-school and during summer and school vacations. A significant majority of Solar Youth Stewards enroll in programs for more than one season each year.
In New Haven, Solar Youth hosts programs in schools and neighborhoods. We also take youth on dozens of out-ofneighborhood explorations annually on weekends and holidays to parks, beaches, museums, zoos, aquariums and other destinations.
At Solar Youth, we believe that any youth's ability to achieve success in adult life depends on the acquisition of core Developmental Assets, the building blocks of positive youth development as defined by the Search Institute. Assets are both internal (a commitment to learning, social skills, positive
values or identity) and external (family and community support, constructive use of time, boundaries and expectations). Helping youth who face extraordinary challenges attain these assets through exploration and problem-solving is at the core of Solar Youth’s work.
Solar Youth hires and trains high school students as paid interns to serve as Youth Educators (who co-lead programs with adult staff) and Green Jobs Apprentices (who develop community service projects that focus on sustainable landscaping and community improvements). In addition to “hard skills,” interns are taught skills for general employability, such as timeliness, preparation, public speaking, personal financial management, work ethic and commitment to excellence.
Our youth Stewards fall in love with nature by learning about local ecology through outdoor exploration and working together to make their communities a better place. Stewards design and implement dozens of Community Service Action Projects (C-SAPs) and Public Education Projects (PEPs) every year, helping make New Haven an ecologically healthier and civically more vibrant place to live.
Solar Youth curriculum aligns with Connecticut State standards for science learning and is coordinated to complement what youth are learning in science class at school. Curriculum covers a range of environmental issues in each season, drawing from an inventory of more than one hundred lesson plans that we have developed and accumulated since our founding.
Youth helped found Solar Youth, co-lead programs with adult staff; serve on Solar Youth’s Board of Directors; design curriculum and Community Service Action Projects; and provide feedback after every season.
Solar Youth serves 450-500 youth of all ages every year through programs offered for free 4 to 6 days per week, every month of the year. We accomplish all of this on an annual budget of approximately $600,000.
Published on May 19, 2014