Youth Advocate Programs Announces $20 Million Ballmer Group Gift

Youth Advocate Programs Announces $20 Million Ballmer Group Gift

Youth Advocate Programs has announced a $20 million gift from the Ballmer Group in support of its efforts to provide alternatives to juvenile incarceration and other costly interventions.

Based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, YAP partners with juvenile justice, child welfare, mental health, disability, public health, educational, substance abuse, workforce development, and other local agencies to provide home-based alternatives to prisons and residential treatment centers for about thirteen thousand youth and vulnerable adults in twenty-two states and the District of Columbia. With the grant — awarded in 2017 but only announced publicly after a yearlong planning process — the organization has implemented a new strategy designed to strengthen its efforts to reduce institutional placement, improve economic mobility, eliminate racial disparities, and advance social justice for more youth and their families.

To that end, the organization has made initial investments in developing intensive services designed to help sexually exploited children; launched "YAPWORX," an economic opportunities-through-skill development program, as well as a child welfare substance use program; and has begun to deliver services and support for transition-age youth. The organization also will invest in research initiatives and partnerships designed to help it document, learn from, and share lessons from its evidence-based programs, and will work to boost its impact with pilot programs related to system change, racial and social justice, and its Safely Home Campaign.

Future initiatives may include partnering with local referral agencies to launch programs in other states; strengthening the YAP Endowment Fund, which is supported primarily through payroll deductions; and supporting a flex fund that provides "life start-up money" for apartment security deposits and other basic needs to help youth transition into adulthood or get their lives started in a new, positive direction.

"Youth Advocate Programs offers unconditional caring for kids with the most complex needs," said Jeff Edmondson, managing director of Ballmer Group. "We believe everyone deserves a shot at moving up, so we are proud to support an organization that embraces the belief that every single child is critically important to making this happen."