Director says Partners for Youth stronger a year after acquiring Grand Futures

A year after acquiring Grand Futures, Partners of Routt County has updated its branding, introduced a new logo and changed its name to Partners for Youth — but the desire to help youth is unchanged.

“It’s been a full year since the acquisition at this point,” said Lindsay Kohler, Partners for Youth executive director. “I think the biggest transition has just been working to integrate all of our staff and our programs.”

She said the name change has not distracted from the organization’s mission to support youth through mentorship, empowerment, and trusted adult engagement so that they can face life’s challenges and thrive. The only difference is that Partners for Youth has broadened its scope and added Moffat and Grand counties to the mix.

“I think it’s been really neat to have just this one unified effort behind serving these communities,” Kohler said. “What (the board and staff of Grand Futures) wanted, was what we all want. That is to provide the best possible services to youth.”

Kohler said the move has allowed Partners for Youth to put additional capacity behind the programs that Grant Futures provided.

The organization announced it was switching to the name Partners for Youth back in October, during an event celebrating 25 years in Steamboat Springs. She said the acquisition shifted the focus of Partners for Youth from Routt County to other areas in Northwest Colorado.

The current staff includes one part-time and nine full-time employees. The organization is currently looking for a program coordinator in Grand County.

“Our mentoring programs have continued, and that hasn’t changed,” Kohler said. “But what we’ve continued is the programs that Grand Futures was running, and that’s primarily youth action councils.”

The Steamboat Teen Council, in partnership with the school district, recently hosted a Narcan training session for school district staff.

“We also have a youth council in Moffat County, as well, that’s tripled in size in the last four months, and they’re doing a lot of really great work,” Kohler said. “Back in August or September they had about five members attending consistently, and our Youth Development Coordinator, Mackenzie Mixon brought it up to 18.”

The organization is also starting conversations about adding a community-based mentoring program to Moffat County, similar to those in Routt County that are experiencing a recent jump in referrals.

“What we’ve seen in the past few months is a 75% increase in referrals to our community-based mentoring programs,” Kohler said. “We have over 50 partnerships that are active right now, and a number of mentors in the screening process getting ready to be matched.”

The mentoring program serves youth ages 6 to 17 who could benefit from having another trusted adult in their life. Youth are referred to the program by community agencies and individuals such as school counselors, the Department of Human Services, Integrated Community, and other agencies.

Kohler said there are currently 26 children on the waitlist. Partners for Youth is currently looking for adult volunteer mentors to fill the needed spots.

Partners for Youth is also running the Strengthening Families Program that has grown out of last year’s merger. The program targets families with youth between 10 to 14 and their parents and guardians.

“It’s all building communication skills within the family, supporting youth in resisting peer pressure and honestly creates a nice kind of sense of support in the group that attends,” Kohler said. “Ultimately, it prevents substance use and abuse.”

The seven-session program is free and offers dinner and child care. Facilitators lead the session in which parents, guardians and children are taught skills to create a stronger family connection. Partners has offered a couple of Strengthening the Family sessions in Steamboat Springs over the past year and will host the first one outside Steamboat starting Feb. 5 in Oak Creek.

Kohler said coordinator Merrily Waldron has done a great job getting the word out about the programs, and that those interested in the program can also reach out to Partners for more information.

Providing these types of services is what Partners for Youth is all about, Kohler said. She is excited about what the organization’s future holds moving forward.

“It’s really reinvigorated that youth voice work that we’ve been doing,” Kohler said of the acquisition of Grand Futures. “I think, overall, it has definitely made the programs themselves stronger, and for sure I think it has made this organization stronger.”

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