Here at ICAN, we have been focusing on youth for over 25 years. We provide a safe, free place for youth to come afterschool and provide them with real life skills and decision making tools. We work passionately to ensure that they all graduate from high school. But what happens after that? Off they go into “real life” and we hope for the best. This will not be the case anymore. ICAN is entering into a partnership with the Chandler Compadres to create the “ICAN Start Working” program. Does this mean more college scholarships? Not necessarily. College is a wonderful option for many youth and we are so happy for those that choose to go that route. But for even more youth that we work with, college is not a viable option. They would be on their own financially; facing mounting student loan debt just to make it through. So often we see that middle-skill jobs are quickly overlooked as a viable option for many. According to a recent series by USA Today, an estimated 2.5 million new, middle-skill jobs are expected to be added to the workforce by 2017 – accounting for nearly 40% of all job growth. These jobs require some training, but far less schooling than a bachelor’s degree. These middle-skill jobs include radiation therapists, elevator installers and repairers, and dental hygienists, all with a median wage of more than $70,000 per year. Arizona has one of the top 10 metro areas expected to create the most middle-skill jobs by 2017. Between 2010 and 2020, 52% of the job openings in Arizona will be middle-skill. According to the National Skills Coalition, middle-skill jobs account for 53% of Arizona’s labor market, but only 47% of the state’s workers are trained for these jobs. The gap is widening as more and more baby boomers retire – they make up about 20% of this workforce. Our society’s push to get all young people into four-year colleges (also known as the “one road to heaven” approach) contributes to a nationwide shortage of skilled workers. The abundance of these jobs is great – but nearly 80% of the new blue-collar jobs require some training, typically less than a year. That is where ICAN’s new program comes along. Our program will identify students for the program (starting as early as junior high school) and work with them on what it is they want to do – whether it be learning a trade or attending community college or university. We will then sponsor that student to be trained through partners such as TechShop Chandler, or attend a Maricopa Community College. The students will then be placed in internships and apprenticeships that will hopefully lead to full-time work. If ICAN invests $800 for a student to be trained as an apprentice welder, they have the opportunity to make $48,000 when they work full-time – that’s a pretty good return on investment. So what can you do to help? Maybe you or someone you know has […]
As April is dedicated to recognizing and appreciating the myriad of volunteers who support non-profit organizations, I am happy to have the opportunity to share some of the many ways volunteers contribute to ICAN’s success. We truly would not have the wonderful program we do, if it weren’t for our amazing and dedicated volunteers! ICAN volunteers bring their smiles and hearts to everything they do, from the necessary yet sometimes tedious task of scanning old files to scooping green beans on 500+ plates for Thanksgiving Dinner! Whether our volunteers are hiding Easter Eggs or setting up the gym for a rousing game of human bowling or helping children with their spelling words, ICAN volunteers support the success of at-risk youth with their willingness to encourage youth to do and be their best. By bringing personal interests into the after-school program, our volunteers help ICAN youth learn new skills and build self-confidence. One of our high school volunteers is great with the new math (which we are ever thankful for because most of our adult volunteers and staff look at the new math and go, ‘huh?’). She worked with staff to create a mini-math lab which helped a number of students improve their math skills. Another volunteer who competes in state and national chess tournaments, brings the art of chess to our after-school program. Still other volunteers bring their love and appreciation of all things ‘youth’ to help staff implement activities, encourage youth to participate in programming and help build self-esteem through positive praise and modeling respect. Last year we were blessed with visits from over 400 volunteers – each bringing a genuine desire to support the success of at-risk youth. THANK YOU to the many volunteers who share their hearts with us. YOU MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE AND WE APPRECIATE YOU! If you are interested in becoming an ICAN volunteer, click here to learn more. Deanna Schlagenhaft ICAN Volunteer Coordinator
Every two years, ICAN conducts a community needs assessment to ensure that high-quality programs are offered to empower youth to be productive, self-confident and responsible members of the community. The results of this assessment identify the current conditions of the community and provide direction and focus to the planning process of all ICAN programs. ICAN continues to serve a high percentage of families living in poverty, with an annual income of less than $15,000 for a family of four. More than a third of ICAN families are self-identified as “mother only”, no husband present. The target area is identified as the low to moderate income area of Chandler that falls under the 85225 zip code. Four main areas were analyzed with the information gathered for this needs assessment: education, substance abuse, healthy lifestyles and community resources. In the education area, the needs assessment shows that dropout rates continue to be high for the 85225 zip code. Additionally, the majority of schools where ICAN members attend show school report cards with low academic performance, and several of them report high numbers of suspensions during the last school year. Nevertheless, ICAN youth identified that being part of ICAN has helped them to improve their academic success. The second area analyzed underage substance abuse. The 85225 zip code area continues to be at great risk for alcohol, drugs and tobacco use and abuse among youth. Alcohol continues to be the substance most used by youth followed by marijuana and cigarettes. Results show that parties continue to be the main source of alcohol for youth in general, while parents or family members are the main access for alcohol for younger children. Healthy Lifestyles was the third area analyzed. Diabetes, poor eating habits, being overweight, lack of exercise, and not going to the doctor or dentist for preventative screenings were some of the most common problems identified for youth living in the target area. Evaluation results indicate that the great majority of youth members report improvement in their appreciation of their health and wellness through ICAN’s programs. The last section covered in this assessment was community resources. This section covers information related to the risks that youth living in 85225 face including their family, community, school and their friends/peers. Information shows that half of the students living in this area report risk in all areas, which increase youth vulnerability regarding substance abuse, delinquency, school dropout and/or violence. The greatest opportunity for overcoming these risks is to create positive relations with peers and role models at school, which building a stronger believe in the moral order The needs are evident, and ICAN is here to help address them. ICAN could not accomplish this without the support of generous individuals and businesses in the community who recognize the importance of the work being done. Businesses like DPR Construction, who recently awarded ICAN with a $60,000 grant to support programs, give ICAN the ability to offer quality programs and resources to this community that is in such great […]
Hopefully many people across the state heard about and/or watched “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona” on Tuesday, January 13th. The 30-minute documentary was produced by the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and aired on all local stations through a partnership with the Arizona Broadcasters Association. I watched the documentary with fellow members of our Chandler community at City Hall and was just as shocked as many in the room by what I learned. If you missed it, visit http://hookedaz.cronkitenewsonline.com/. The documentary brings to light a growing epidemic in our state which is heroin use. Law enforcement has seen a sharp increase in heroin-related arrests and overdoses from the substance since 2007. Drug deaths topped even the number of motor vehicle deaths in Arizona in 2013, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. In October, the Centers for Disease Control reported that heroin overdose deaths across the country have increased from 2,679 in 2011 to 3,635 in 2012. Arizona was one of the 28 states cited in the report for an increase in heroin deaths. The documentary wasn’t just about statistics; it focused more on a number of real-life stories about our neighbors and friends who have been devastated by drug addiction. They followed a beautiful young couple from Chandler who were in the midst of battling their addiction. Hearing their sincere words about the struggles they were facing on a daily basis added a genuine face to this issue. The Chandler Police Department also contributed and talked about how heroin is their number one problem they are dealing with right now. The drug comes from Mexico through the border and the quantities are increasing – U.S. Customs’ seizures of the drug increased from 125 to 250 kilos year over year in 2013. County Attorney Bill Montgomery stated, “Maricopa County is the distribution hub for the Sinaloa Cartel’s heroin market in the United States.” The January 13th viewing of the piece was a partnership among many Chandler organizations – ICAN, along with our Chandler Coalition on Youth Substance Abuse (CCYSA), partnered with the City of Chandler, Chandler PD, Chandler Valley Hope, Chandler Unified School District, Terros, Not My Kid, My Sister’s Place, MADD, For Our City, ACE Sober Living and Teen Challenge. All of these organizations have valuable resources to help our community deal with this situation. Here at ICAN we are focused on education. Our youth attend daily evidenced-based programs that include “Too Good for Drugs” where we provide information about the negative consequences of drug use and the benefits of a nonviolent, drug-free lifestyle. Youth also participate in “Steps to Respect” which promotes healthy decision making skills to prevent negative behaviors. “Botvin’s Life Skills” help develop socioemotional skills aimed at reducing impulsive and aggressive behavior while increasing social competence. Our teens participate in similar program, and our Chandler Coalition on Youth Substance Abuse gets those teens out in the community educating their fellow teens, along with adults, on the dangers of substance abuse. So […]
ICAN Chandler was recently named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Phoenix Business Journal. ICAN ranked 25th on the list for micro companies (companies with 10-49 employees). A total of 125 local companies were recognized. The list was compiled through a process where the Phoenix Business Journal works with a national research firm to survey, audit and rank companies after they self-nominate. Employees of those companies are asked to complete an online survey that measures team effectiveness, trust in senior leaders, feeling valued, manager effectiveness, compensation, benefits and more. Each nominee must reach a minimum percentage of employee participation to be eligible as a finalist. Their research partner, Quantum Workplace, then compiles the data, computes “engagement scores” from it, and uses those scores to rank the finalists in each of the five size categories. “ICAN is a positive place for youth in our community and our employees are a critical part of being able to serve the Chandler area with program and services,” stated Becky Jackson, President & CEO. “We value our employees greatly, they are directly impacting the youth of our community and we do our best to make sure they are happy and fulfilled with their workplace.”
Most people, let alone most parents, are unaware of the hidden epidemic affecting over two-thirds of our community. Yes, I said two-thirds. In Arizona the ACE Consortium, a collaboration of over 100 individuals, state, county, and private agencies, have been working together for the last ten years to get the word out. Beware parents, not only have most of you been infected with this invisible disease; but, your children have as well. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being. The study was collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego. More than 17,000 HMO members undergoing a comprehensive Physical examination chose to provide detailed information about their childhood experience of abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction. These were middle-class individuals in San Diego with over 70% having college educations. With more than 17,000 average American participants, the study assessed a wide array of health and social problems ranging from adolescence to adulthood, and assessed childhood exposure to multiple types of abuse, neglect, domestic violence and serious household dysfunction such as substance abuse. The decade-long study has taught us important lessons about the long term effects of certain negative childhood experiences The ACE Study findings suggest that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States. By following the progression in the pyramid you will see the symptoms developing from the experience as a child into the disease of the adult. Traumatic experiences can be dehumanizing, shocking or terrifying, singular or multiple compounding events over time, and often include betrayal of a trusted person. Trauma can result from experiences of violence. Trauma impacts one’s spirituality and relationships with self and others, often resulting in recurring feelings of shame, guilt, rage, isolation, and disconnection; but, healing is possible when one finds the way to resources that will assist in breaking the cycle, create strong coping mechanisms, and help build greater public awareness that we all have a stake in combating this disease for our sake and the sake of our children. You can help yourself, your family and the community by learning more about ACEs. Visit the website www.acestudy.org to read the results of the study. For help, visit www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife for great tips on coping, and www.pbs.org/parents/childdevelopment for great parenting information. Adverse Childhood Experiences can last a lifetime, but, they don’t have to! Together we all can do something about ACEs, please join us! This guest blog post is from Frank Brogni, ACC, CPC, Family Relations and Life Coach and Chair Person of the ACE Champions for Change Speakers Bureau – contact Frank and an ACE Ambassador will be glad to present the ACE Study information to your group: Frank@WorldClassParenting.com, 602-920-6287.
Bullying has become a world-wide epidemic. It seems that every day, you can find an article online related to bullying. Kids as young as 7 are taking their own lives because they feel there is no hope for the end. Just last month, a 15-year-old boy committed suicide because he was relentlessly picked on in high school. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2011), about 48% of youth in 6th-12th grades experience bullying. Of those that are victims, only 36% report the bullying to an adult. So how can you identify and intervene in bullying? Know the facts. Bullying is persistent, happening on more than one occasion. It is one-sided, with the bully having more power over the victim, either real or perceived. Bullying is not a rite of passage! It is not “kids being kids”. Bullying can affect schooling, and can cause severe psychological trauma, not only for the victim, but for the bully, and the bystanders as well. Bullying can cause victims to lose focus in school, resulting in declining grades, truancy, and fear. The Center for Child Stress and Violence Prevention (2013) reports that 160,000 students skip school every day due to bullying. What is worse is that kids now experience bullying 24/7, thanks to the internet and technology. Fake Facebook profiles, websites, and text messages can be utilized in cyberbullying, which can harm children in their own homes. In addition, bullies are more likely to develop anger issues later in life. Bullying can result in the inability to develop appropriate social skills, which can then affect careers and education further down the road. Bullies can also develop guilt and shame issues from their actions. Bystanders, the kids who witness bullying, can develop fear and helplessness from their inability to intervene. In order to combat bullying, it takes involvement from families, schools, and community leaders. Involving faith organizations, law enforcement officials, and school officials allows for the community to address issues of intolerance, violence, and disrespect. This also helps kids to feel safe. ICAN has several ways to combat bullying, not only within our organization, but also within the community. Our Prevention Specialists are trained in several evidence-based programs that teach tolerance, inclusion, and respect. The entire staff has received training on bullying, and how to identify and intervene. However, we need help from the rest of the community to help eradicate it in Chandler. If you think your child is involved in bullying, talk to them. Ask questions, look for strange behaviors, and be involved. Kids who are victims or bullies will both exhibit behaviors that are not typical to them personally. The biggest thing is to just listen. Once you get them talking, just listen. Do not judge, do not belittle, and do not push for retaliation. Listen, brainstorm positive ideas, and contact those within the community to help. It is up to everyone to ensure that our kids are safe. Guest blog post by ICAN Prevention Specialist, Rachel Hill, MA Contact […]
Chandler-based nonprofit ICAN: Positive Programs for Youth is hosting a Halloween Decoration Sale on Saturday, September 28th from 10am to 5pm and Sunday, September 29th from 12pm to 4pm. The sale will be open to the public and include a large assortment of Halloween decorations in all price ranges and be held at the ICAN Lon E. Hoeye Youth Center at 650 E. Morelos Street in Chandler. To preview some of the items please visit http://bit.ly/icansale. Credit cards will be accepted, but cash is a preferred payment method for faster checkout. “This limited sale is possible thanks to the strong support ICAN has in the community,” said ICAN’s President & CEO, Becky Jackson. “Those who purchase will not only get to buy unique Halloween decorations, but also give back to the community by supporting programs that make a positive difference in the lives of our youth.” Proceeds from the Halloween Decoration Sale support ICAN’s free programs for youth in grades K-12. Halloween Decoration Sale Benefiting ICAN Saturday, September 28th, 2013 – 10am – 5pm Sunday, September 29th, 2013 – 12pm – 4pm ICAN Lon E. Hoeye Youth Center 650 E. Morelos Street Chandler, AZ 85225 ICAN is a free, family-centered youth service in the East Valley. We provide a full complement of programs proven effective in equipping youth to achieve personal and academic success by tackling substance abuse, gang involvement and juvenile delinquency. For more information about ICAN, call 480.821.4207 or visit www.icanaz.org.
To provide community programs, ICAN partners with the Chandler Coalition on Youth Substance Abuse (CCYSA). CCYSA strives to prevent youth substance abuse in Chandler through a variety of evidence-based programs designed to increase knowledge of youth substance abuse, promote social responsibility, and spur community action. Serving the 85225 zip code in Chandler, CCYSA has made great strides in bringing out positive results within the community. The vision is that Chandler will be a safe and healthy, drug-free community where opportunities exist for youth to achieve their full potential. The need is great for community awareness programs like those CCYSA provides in ICAN’s service area. The annual ICAN Community Needs Assessment and the most recent Arizona Youth Survey identified parties as the number 1 source of alcohol for underage youth in the 85225 zip code. Because of the harmful effects underage drinking has on our community, CCYSA, in collaboration with the Chandler Police Department, has a strategy known as Party Patrol to stop the problem at the source. CCYSA provides resources to the Chandler Police Department to execute Party Patrols on strategic dates (based on intelligence data and reports). These are often times when underage drinking may be more likely to happen, like holidays, football games, etc. With the resources provided by CCYSA, the Police Department focuses on enforcing underage drinking laws and shutting down parties where there is underage drinking. The police make citations to youth and adults in violation of the law as well—consequences that will deter underage drinking laws from being broken in the future. This is just one initiative that the CCYSA has in place; to learn more and get involved in helping prevent youth substance abuse in the Chandler community, visit the CCYSA website at ccysachandler.org – Join our Peer Leadership program as a youth or adult, attend a monthly CCYSA meeting and many more opportunities are available! Guest blog post by Billy Hood, ICAN’s Community Programs Coordinator – Contact him at 480.821.4207 (x414) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Carlos is a 16 year old high school student in Chandler, Arizona. His six-member family lives in a two bedroom apartment and Carlos is the only income source they have. Outside of school, Carlos has constant pressures to join local gangs. The temptation to join is high because many of his friends are involved. Adopting this lifestyle would mean getting involved in juvenile delinquency and activities that could land Carlos in jail, eliminating his family’s only income source. This is a very real situation that youth face each day in the Chandler community. It’s not widely known that gang activity is prevalent in the Downtown Chandler community, as evidenced by the following information provided through ICAN’s Annual Community Needs Assessment: 9 rival gangs exist within the area (Chandler Police Department 2011) 4th riskiest Maricopa County community for youth (Arizona Department of Behavioral Health Services 2009 Needs Assessment) Youth in the Downtown Chandler area face many challenges that make involvement with gangs an attractive alternative for many teens. Of 10 youth who live in the area, you can expect to find: 8 living in extreme poverty, in household earning less than $25k per year for a family of four 8 using drugs or alcohol to cope with the harsh realities of the streets 4 who have not graduate high school by the age of 25 4 living in single parent households, with less than ideal parental supervision during high-risk hours (after-school predominantly) As a result of these and other challenges, 2 in 10 teens in this community make the decision to join gangs in order to build what they believe will be supportive relationships and income opportunities. In most cases, teens find out too later that gang activity does just the opposite – stifles supportive relationships, diminishes life-long earning potential and increases the chances that a teen will continue the cycle of poverty that already exists. ICAN’s youth programs are proven effective at preventing substance abuse, gang activity and other forms of delinquency among youth through the development of life skills like “resiliency.” Resiliency refers to an individual’s ability to adapt to change and stressful events in a healthy and flexible way. Resiliency is critical in the prevention of gang activity because it boosts a child’s ability to “bounce back” from negative circumstances, choosing a positive path rather than the path of gang involvement. ICAN’s primary strategy is to prevent gang involvement through the building of social skills that allow for productive decision making by youth. Secondary to that, ICAN has also partnered with the Chandler Police Department’s Gang Unit to strongly impact gang involvement among older youth through bi-monthly “outreach & ride-alongs” to recruit these youth into our programs and share an alternative to life on the streets. You can help make a difference in the lives of these youth by getting involved with ICAN through volunteering, in-kind giving, and donations. Your support can help create positive changes in youth and change the community statistics. ICAN is a free, family-centered youth service in the East Valley. We provide a full complement of programs […]