A moment of silence fell over the PYD office as a brilliant idea filled Nicole’s brain after listening to ‘In the Afternoon with Austin’ on Radio Perkins. Nicole strung up from her desk and turned to me with an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm as she spilled her idea, “Austin, do you think Kennedy would like to host PYD’s annual benefit fundraiser as the Master of Ceremonies?”
I replied, “It doesn’t hurt to ask. But, if we have any hope we have to write up the proposal opportunity email tonight!”
The email was in Kennedy’s inbox by the following morning, to which she replied almost immediately with a resounding, “YES!”
Following this new addition to Party for PYD, Nicole asked if I would be interested in joining the Party Planning Committee. I, of course, could not turn down such a valuable opportunity! I then began attending meetings twice a month until May 10th, 2018.
The planning committee meetings were a place for communication of ideas related to goals, details and logistics. Topics discussed include everything from sponsor and guest engagement, venue design, invitations, social media strategies, auction items, donors, catering, volunteers, youth performers, etc. Although being apart of the planning committee was a tedious role to fill, it was one that came with a great deal of fulfillment. Every planning committee member brought a unique set of skills and resources that contributed to the growing passion. Overall, this was a very empowering and incredible opportunity that will live on in my memory for a great deal of time.
Party for PYD day, on May 10th, 2018, began with a light breakfast and delicious lunch. Following lunch, PYD staff members and volunteers carried all the supplies and auction material to their cars. Once the cars were filled, it was off to the races! We caravanned to PwC, who generously hosted the event, jamming out along the way with my friend, who graciously donated her entire day to PYD party prep! I was updating social media periodically throughout the day and happened to be doing so as we drove down multiple stories into the parking garage. I instantly became very dizzy and needed to pause to regroup. After I felt better, I made my way into PwC where Allyson Schiller from PwC greeted me. She gracefully escorted my friend and I to the futuristic elevators. As we made our way up the elevators we quickly discovered the speed at which they traveled, contributing to yet another headache and I nearly fainted…. But, you know what they say, the show must go on!
Allyson, thankfully, paused with us as we got off the elevator, as she got me ginger ale and pretzels to ease my dizziness. From then on out, Allyson hung out by my side a majority of the day, which allowed us to bond! She showed me around the venue, helped me update my social media throughout the set up process, and graciously offered treats! Our PYD team members made a much needed caffeine run to Starbucks!
Suspense was building as the event was drawing closer to the 6pm start, putting on last minute touches. The PYD family could barely contain their excitement! We all gathered towards the nearest restrooms to change out of our set-up clothes and freshen up for the distinguished guests and stellar night. We were so happy and humbled to welcome our guests into the breath-taking venue.
As 5:30 hit, we knew it was nearly show time! Elegantly dressed Party for PYD guests filled the atrium at PwC, admiring the Boston harbor view! We mingled, took photos, ate delicious food, told stories, while awaiting Kennedy’s arrival. Kennedy’s presence immediately brought about laughs, compliments, and stories that lasted until the speaking portion of the event.
At 6:50, PYD youth leaders and volunteers, with fairy wands, rapidly ushered all guests into place for the speaking portion of the night. Guest quickly filled their seats, since the party agenda was tighter than your grandmother’s jeans!
Neil Leonard, Vice President of the PYD Board of Directors and Chair of the Planning Committee gave the crowd a formal welcome followed by a passionate introduction to me, which nearly brought me to tears. I then had the opportunity to execute the script I had spent countless hours writing and perfecting for Kennedy and me. I was given the opportunity to introduce Kennedy to the crowd and share a segment of our journey together. This was really meaningful, for it allowed us to share our passionate and spontaneous connection with the audience, demonstrating how deeply I care for her as my mentor. Following the outstanding youth performance by our 2017 Rayleen Lescay awardee, Sophia Rose Kelley, Kennedy moved into the auction portion of the event. This brought upon many jokes and high-value bids, which helped PYD to exceed their fundraising efforts! Thanks to generous guests and Kennedy helming the live auction, we raised just short of $30,000 the night of Party for PYD. THE MOST SUCCESSFUL EVER!
It was a heartfelt privilege and honor to serve with the PYD family and alongside the facilitator, Nicole Malo (Director of Development and Community Engagement), in Party for PYD 2018. Nicole was an absolute joy to work alongside, as her passion radiates and warms the hearts of many. She worked countless hours that were truly seen in the execution of Party for PYD 2018. Anybody who encounters Nicole’s presence will immediate feel her passion, warmth, and utmost drive to do an incredible job each and everyday. She is a unique asset to the team, along with each and every member of the PYD staff, who worked many hours to put on such an amazing event! The PYD family works everyday to provide our community with safe, valuable, and fulfilling opportunities. They care about all details, no matter how small!
Thank you to each and every one of you for truly helping make it a memorable night!
All the best,
On Thursday, March 15th, the Social Innovation Forum, Liberty Mutual Insurance and Partners for Youth with Disabilities welcomed featured speaker Commissioner Toni Wolf of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission for a poignant conversation regarding employment for youth with disabilities. Over sixty guests participated, including many young adults with disabilities and leaders in the disability, inclusion and diversity fields.
The talk focused on how large gaps in inclusion are a reality for the disability community. As a society, we must act now to ensure that youth with disabilities have the supports and opportunities in place to achieve their hopes and dreams. One step to achieve this is by providing career preparation and internship opportunities for young people with diverse abilities so they have the tools to succeed in inclusive work environments. PYD and MRC have partnered to provide pre-employment training, but our mission has to reach an even larger audience, with communities, businesses and organizations all engaged for this change as well.
As she stepped up on the podium, Commissioner Wolf immediately put guests at ease. A laugh filled the room as she opened her talk with a Seinfeld video clip and everyone felt excited to be there. Then she transitioned to the real topic of the morning, declaring that, “With all that we have done, there is still stigma (regarding disability).”
“People with disabilities have a 20.7% engagement in the workforce. In 2010 it was at a low of 13%, so there is improvement. We are doing something right, but it still is not great.” In addition, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities is twice that of those without disabilities–and that’s just the reported number. We’re at a precipice of a bubble that we must capitalize on as businesses are looking to hire. The time is now to bridge the gap in the employment of youth with disabilities by ensuring they gain the necessary skills for success. And by working with employers so they develop strong inclusive practices.
Dr. Wolf talked about the importance of programs targeting transition age youth (14 to 24 years old) with disabilities looking to forge their path in this world. The vision is for these youth to form lasting and strong mentoring relationships and develop career skills. This can help them as they learn to be problem solvers and to think outside of the box, as those are transferable skills useful in every area of work and life.
Dr. Wolf went on to discuss the intricacies of employment and the stigmas behind both visible and hidden disabilities. “I am incredibly positive about this generation, they guide us to think outside the box.” Dr. Wolf succinctly summarized the feelings of the morning with one word: hopeful. Yes, there are several lasting and deep challenges that the community faces vis a vis the inclusion of youth with disabilities, but the way to uncover stigma is by having real and sometimes tough conversations which point out the systemic oppression and pave the road for progress. Dr. Wolf concluded her talk with this video.
Partners for Youth with Disabilities is one of the groups leading this movement, and with the support of Social Innovation Forum and Liberty Mutual Insurance, the progress can be great.
PYD is excited to work with SIF and Liberty Mutual Insurance, who is PYD’s SIF track sponsor. Regina Snowden, Founder and Executive Director of PYD said that PYD wants “to ensure that youth with disabilities have the confidence and the resources to succeed.” Liberty Mutual Insurance, as a top donor, helps to ensure those resources are available.
Klare Shaw of Liberty Mutual Insurance shared that “PYD’s mentorship program offers training…and through those avenues they help forge paths. We are happy to help.”
As stated by Susan Musinsky of Social Innovation Forum, “We want to help build the capacity for PYD so they evolve to do the work they want to do. We are hoping to articulate their work so they can best move forward.” PYD is confident that through our journey with SIF we can become even stronger advocates for youth with disabilities, and together we can spark more change leading to greater inclusivity.
This blog post written by PYD’s BU PRLab Account Executives with editorial guidance from PYD Staff.
Boston, MA (December 8, 2017) – The Social Innovation Forum (SIF) has selected Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) to participate in SIF’s 2018 “Social Innovator Accelerator,” a 24-month capacity-building program that helps nonprofit organizations gain visibility, expand their networks, and accelerate their impact.
As a 2018 Social Innovator, PYD will receive access to more than $150,000 of cash and in-kind services, including training, coaching, and consulting, from SIF and its partners. SIF selected PYD from a pool of 155 applicants based on its unique approach to addressing accessibility and opportunities for young people with disabilities.
“We extend a warm welcome to our newest group of Social Innovators,” said SIF Executive Director Susan Musinsky. “Our team, consultants, in-kind partners, and volunteers are excited to work with you over the next 24 months to help you accelerate the important work your organizations are doing in the local community.”
Regina Snowden, Founder and Executive Director of PYD shared: “We are humbled and honored to be selected as a Social Innovation Forum (SIF) Social Innovator 2018. Our focus as a Social Innovator will be on the bright future of PYD’s YEP Career Readiness Program primed to engage more youth. We are gratified for the ways that mentoring, group mentoring, job training and placement are at the fore of empowering young people with disabilities, a population still under-served. Youth and adults with disabilities are vastly under- and unemployed as compared to persons without a disability. Further, the larger percentage of youth in the juvenile justice system are youth with a disability. Through PYD programs young people gain life skills, career skills, and confidence. They access their rights and realize their abilities. We are grateful to SIF for this extraordinary opportunity. And we are very grateful to Liberty Mutual Insurance, our track sponsor, who leads the way for youth with disabilities and mentoring.”
The full list of organizations selected for the 2018 Social Innovator cohort includes ACT Lawrence, Community Boating Center, Fathers’ Uplift, GreenRoots, PAIR (Political Asylum / Immigration Representation Project), Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Strategies for Youth, and The Renew Collaborative.
The Social Innovator Accelerator is generously supported by the Barr Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, The Boston Foundation, Boston Open Impact, the Devonshire Foundation, Highland Street Foundation, Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative, Liberty Mutual Insurance, the Margaret Stewart Lindsay Foundation, MassMutual Foundation, Schrafft Charitable Trust, and the Stifler Family Foundation.
About the Social Innovator Accelerator
The Social Innovator Accelerator provides small- to mid-sized nonprofit organizations with intensive training over a two-year period, including consulting, coaching, and connections to SIF’s network. On average, nonprofit organizations in the SIF portfolio more than double their revenue within four years after engaging with SIF, growth significantly higher than state and national rates. In the past year, organizations in the SIF portfolio impacted more than 400,000 lives across a spectrum of social issues including early childhood education, environmental sustainability, homelessness, and youth development. For more information, visit www.socialinnovationforum.org.
For thirty-two years, Partners for Youth with Disabilities has empowered youth with disabilities to reach their personal, educational, and career goals through unique mentoring, creative arts, life skills development, and career-readiness programs. We also have provided inclusion training and technical assistance to more than 100 organizations across the country to help them become more inclusive towards people living with disabilities. PYD is a founding member of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition and also co-chairs the Mentoring Task Force of the Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities. We envision an inclusive global society in which youth with disabilities have the access, support, and confidence to achieve their full potential. We believe that youth with disabilities who are educated, mentored, and empowered have a profoundly positive impact on their communities and the world. With the generous support of many individuals, organizations, foundations, businesses and corporations, our important work with this under-served population of youth will continue to thrive and grow. Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Inc. (PYD) is a designated 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization by the Internal Revenue Service. Follow us on Facebook (pydboston), Twitter and Instagram (@PYDBoston).
BOSTON – Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) was presented with a grant from the James G. Connolly Tribute Fund at the 12th annual Champions of Mentoring breakfast. The breakfast was hosted by Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP) earlier this summer to honor individuals and organizations that have shown an outstanding commitment to mentoring and youth development.
This year Connolly grants were awarded to two organizations, PYD and Enroot, to enhance their mentoring work with immigrant and refugee youth. They were selected as the result of a competitive RFP process.
“At PYD, we’ve long known that many youth with disabilities also have experiences of trauma, and that many come from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. When these identities collide, it can compound the issues that many youth with disabilities already face–especially their feelings of self-esteem and self-efficacy–and impact the realization of their potential. To have supports like the Connolly Fund that recognize how these dual and multi-faceted aspects of self interact is truly tremendous. Our gratitude is mighty,” said PYD Founder and Executive Director Regina Snowden, who accepted the award at the event.
The grant will be used to bolster existing staff skills, create two new training workshops, and train PYD’s mentors and partner organizations in an effort to better engage and serve immigrant and refugee youth.
Named in honor of MMP’s late board chair, Jim Connolly, the Fund honors his memory and dedication to mentoring by supporting projects that are aligned with MMP’s mission of providing all Massachusetts youth with positive adult relationships. Since 2010, the fund has awarded more than $200,000 in grants to mentoring programs.
Jim Connolly’s belief that all youth should have the opportunity to reach their full potential directly aligns with PYD’s mission and this project. We believe that all youth have strengths and abilities, and that it’s important to change people’s assumptions, expectations, and attitudes in order to create a world where youth with disabilities have full equity of opportunity.
Also at the Champions of Mentoring breakfast, MMP presented the 2017 Champions of Mentoring awards to Senator Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Dorchester) and Tom Caron of NESN, and two Dorchester youth, Shelby Destin and Taya Hopkins, each received $20,000 educational scholarships for persevering through adversity with the guidance of a caring adult.
About Mass Mentoring Partnership
Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP) is fueling the movement to expand empowering youth-adult relationships to meet the needs of communities across Massachusetts. MMP serves hundreds of mentoring programs and youth development organizations statewide supporting thousands of youth in mentoring relationships. www.massmentors.org
About Partners for Youth with Disabilities
Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) empowers youth with disabilities to reach their full potential by providing transformative mentoring programs, youth development opportunities, and inclusion expertise. To learn more, visit www.pyd.org.
On March 12th, PYD began its #IAMPYD campaign by bringing our traveling canvass to Access To Theatre, PYD’s theater arts program for teens and young adults. Participants added their art to the canvas, expressing why they are involved and what they like most about PYD. The canvas is currently filled with a rocket ship, flowers, and other colorful drawings, including proud declarations of personal identities and why PYD is important to them.
Thanks to Mary Grace, Jackie, Juan, and Olivia of the Boston University PRLab, three peer leaders shared their experiences and how PYD has impacted their lives. The following are excerpts and photos from the interviews and the young artists’ process.
“I like being a peer leader for Access To Theatre and Making Healthy Connections because I enjoy expressing my individuality through theater and having fun! I love it because it is a space where I don’t get judged.” – Lizzie Gray
“My favorite thing about being a peer leader is being with my PYD family and those that I love the most. I also like helping others” – Josh Jones
“Partners for Youth with Disabilities has helped me be a better human being. It helps me be more independent as a man and it teaches me about social skills, and how to be ready for the world. In my personal life, it helps me be prepared for anything, because it unlocks that [treasure box] of opportunities and it helps me express who I am as an individual. It helps me learn more about myself and learn new things about different people. Everyone has a story and you never what they are going through unless you sit with them and learn their story. PYD has helped me with that. I’ve been involved for nine years now. I love PYD and thank them for doing that. If PYD didn’t exist I wouldn’t have learned to be as sharp, strong, independent, and intelligent, and I woudn’t have learned all these acting and theater skills. It is so cool to express being silly, but also being artistic and consistent at the same time. Some words that describe me are fearless, risk taker, ambitious, strive for greatest, loving, loyal, dedicated to family, dedicated to my peers, dedicated to being myself, honest, caring. Anything you need I’m always there for you. That’s what describes me.” – DJ Robinson
Join us at the Party for PYD on May 18th to hear DJ perform an original rap!
We’d like to thank Blick art for the kind donation of the canvas.