May 1, 2014

‘Model’ Partnership Stresses Active Involvement in Making a Difference with Youth

Through a combination of ongoing grant support and front-line, active volunteerism, the DPR Foundation has forged an extremely successful partnership with the Maryland Multicultural Youth Center (MMYC) over the past six years, and counting.

MMYC and its parent organization, the Latin American Youth Center, recently honored DPR’s Mid-Atlantic office for its ongoing support with a Community Impact Award. The organization presented the award to DPR during its annual fundraiser event May 1, 2014, entitled “Gala 2014, Educating and Empowering Youth.” DPR was feted at the Gala along with Capitol One Executive Vice President Steve Linehan, a longtime member of the MMYC board who has also served the organization for many years.

DPR Mid-Atlantic office liaison Dianna Petitt, who was among those on hand to receive the award, called the recognition a significant honor from one its long-term partners. MMYC was one of the four original organizations that the DPR Foundation tapped to support when it was founded.

“While we so appreciate the funding DPR provides, what sets them apart is the active engagement of their employees in our programs and with the youth.”

“The essence of the award was to recognize us as a partner both financially and operationally,” Petitt said. “Getting involved working with the youth I think goes to the heart of the Foundation’s mission. We want to work with organizations that use our talents effectively and leverage more than just the grant dollars.”

Award ceremony photo courtesy of Maryland Multicultural Youth Center

MMYC Director Luisa Montero estimated that over the past six years, DPR has helped the organization serve more than 800 young people, including 500 youth in the after school program and more than 300 youth in the summer programs. That service has included everything from college tours, camping, bike trips and sports clinics to lunch and learn workshops, first aid classes, computer hardware and software assistance and basketball outings, to name a few. DPR Foundation grants to MMYC have totaled $355,000 since 2009.

“While we so appreciate the funding DPR provides, what sets them apart is the active engagement of their employees in our programs and with the youth,” Montero commented.

The relationship that DPR has forged with MMYC and the organization’s work with the youth it serves have set a high standard, according to Jeff Vertucci, who has been actively involved with the organization from the outset, initially while working as regional manager for the Mid-Atlantic region and now as senior manager overseeing DPR’s East Coast work.

The organization serves as a model for what DPR would like to see with its volunteer partnerships, Vertucci said. “MMYC has been one of the most exemplary organizations that we support,” he commented. “They are very disciplined in how they measure their results in terms of how the youth do, their test scores and how they keep them on the right path and out of gangs and out of trouble.”

DPR places a heavy emphasis on hands-on involvement. In addition to many hours logged working with the youth in their after school programs, DPR employees have shared their skills or passions with the MMYC youth by teaching clinics on golf, football and baseball, offering Zumba lessons and much more. Every summer DPR has hosted a camping trip that is a major highlight for both volunteers and the youth.

Whatever the forum, volunteers make an effort to impart not just their own particular sports expertise or technical knowledge, but to add a broader perspective that includes life lessons as well.

“There are so many different ways that we can use our own skillsets and talents to support the organization and engage the kids,” Vertucci said. “Youth we saw as middle-schoolers are now in college. Many of them have done really well in school as a result of this program.”

MMYC, which provides educational support/tutoring, cultural enrichment, nutrition, summer programs and physical active ties to middle school youth, is a member of the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) family of organizations. LAYC is a multicultural, regionally based organization whose mission is “to support youth and their families to live, work and study with dignity, hope and joy.” Founded in 1968, LAYC was incorporated as a nonprofit in 1974 for the purpose of serving “at-risk” immigrant Latino youth. Since its inception, the agency has grown from a small grassroots recreation center serving primarily for Latino youth to a nationally recognized organization with a broader focus encompassing all youth and families across the District of Columbia and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland.