Our Founder is retiring! Judy Zone is passing the torch to a new generation of Youthlinc leaders. Justin Powell, incoming Executive Director, shared his plans for the future at the Cottonwood Country Club on February 25th and March 8th. Donors, partners, and alumni gathered to welcome him.
Justin began his journey with Youthlinc eight years ago; participating as a mentor, Service Year team leader, International Service Director and now the Real Life Program Director. He is deeply committed to growing Youthlinc’s legacy of service in Utah and beyond.
Youthlinc is a service school, providing vetted curriculum with proven results. Our Service Year participants have contributed over 175,000 hours of service since Youthlinc was founded seventeen years ago. Over 20,000 of those hours will be completed this year alone.
Our local service impact is unique to our model of service leadership development. No other organization in Utah, and no other that we know of in the US, provides the services, training, and curriculum that we do.
During the transition events, Justin reviewed his plans for the future; initiatives to be completed with committed support from staff, partners, and volunteers. Here are his remarks:
“To further Youthlinc’s position as a local service leader, Jerika, our Local Service Director, began a volunteer management training seminar series that teaches other organizations in Utah best practice strategies. Our track record of successful volunteer management and willingness to offer development opportunities reinforces our position as a youth service leader. This seminar was the first of many to come.
Also related to this professional development training is a tiered partner system designed to cultivate stronger ties to our local service partners. As partner organizations take part in these trainings and accomplish other requirements, they earn various levels of promotion in the Local Service Directory.
We are also looking at ways to make the Local Service Directory a more accessible service hour tracking tool for organizations other than Youthlinc.
Real Life, our afterschool teen refugee mentoring life skills program, continues to grow each year. We currently partner with Promise South Salt Lake, Asian Association of Utah, Catholic Community Services, and West High School, offering bi-weekly services at 8 sites, using 140+ volunteers, 7 interns, and servicing 300+ students.
Next year, we are looking at expansion through Granite Education Foundation to additional high school sites. We will likely be at 10+ sites next year, which will provide high quality programming to 400+ students.
Real Life expands in this way due to a strong portfolio of partners, donors, and a burgeoning curriculum that is relevant and engaging for teens. Megan, the Assistant Real Life director, and I work hard to improve, expand, and make our curriculum and lessons more impactful than ever. Our online lesson bank includes lessons structures using backward designed and cooperative learning, along with ESL friendly strategies.
Real Life teens get robust lessons in financial literacy, which we base off of Wells Fargo’s hands-on-banking curriculum, nutrition, communication, job and college readiness, and community service. We also participate in exciting field trips, such as snowshoeing, rock climbing, and swimming.
This mentoring program is designed not only to have a positive impact on refugee and immigrant teens, but also provide a unique and significant platform for volunteers to develop leadership skills. This successfully makes service a consistent part of their life.
Similar to Real Life expansion, the Service Year continues to grow. This year we have a record nine teams that are replete with mentors, alum leaders, and students. We will be opening our newest site in Madagascar this summer.
As demand for our program grows, the need for solid partners abroad is as critical as ever. I will be going on my tenth trip this summer to help open Madagascar. I’m committed to keeping a firm handle on our international development work. Over the past 8 years I have worked tirelessly with my wife Britnie Powell, a long time team leader, International Service Directors, mentors, and in-country partners to create, improve, and refine our committee work curriculum.
I feel strongly that all humanitarian work we do abroad should be responsible and sustainable. I will continue to cultivate relationships with Rotary clubs and proven NGOs to ensure that our Service Year maintains the highest integrity possible for global impact.
I also plan to continue working with our Legacy Sponsors to ensure that Youthlinc is able to offer financial aid and sponsorships, helping students make the Service Year a reality. With the help of sponsorships, students that normally would not be in a position to join such a rigorous program, with an international airfare price tag attached, feel inspired to make the time and financial commitment necessary to go through the Service Year.
If you read the annual report, another exciting development in Youthlinc is our plan to create a structure and curriculum that will allow the Service Year to expand beyond the Wasatch front. Britnie Powell will be preparing for this expansion by working to create self-contained teams in places such as St George, Cache County, and Vernal.
This structure will eventually lead us to expand the Service Year outside of Utah. Staff and I are committed to grow Youthlinc. We are developing firm strategies and a sustainable business model that will give us the best chance for success.
Finally, I am developing an Alum Giveback program to effectively utilize the donor power of our vast number of alumni. This will include an alum newsletter, features on past participants by team or country, and opportunities to make Youthlinc a part of their charitable giving habits.
As our alumni get older, they will gain more stature in their career fields and will likely be able give back to Youthlinc in more substantial ways. This additional revenue stream will supplement a variety of different programs including project funds for international teams, financial aid for Service Year participants, and Real Life.”
Judy Zone expressed that this is right time to pass the torch to a new generation of Youthlinc leaders. She has created an organization that inspires people to make service a way of life, a beautiful gift that will continue to produce humanitarians for years to come. An impressive feat that could only be envisioned and galvanized by a true lifetime humanitarian.
Justin considers his new position as a high honor, a humbling opportunity with exhilarating prospects to continue leading the legacy that Judy has created. He will continue to draw upon the strengths and expertise of Youthlinc alumni, community partners, and donors as we, together, move Youthlinc into the future.
Join us Saturday, May 21st from 6:30-9:00pm at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center to celebrate 17 years of Youthlinc Utah youth service and Judy Zone’s retirement. RSVP or donate now.
Youthlinc is a Utah-based 501c-3 nonprofit dedicated to creating lifetime humanitarians through local and international service. Learn more about our programs by visiting our website: www.youthlinc.org.