History of YDO
In 2006, the San Diego Organizing Project (SDOP) noted dramatic increases in youth violence in San Diego’s inner city neighborhoods. SDOP immediately mobilized community leaders and conducted meetings with government officials, police, parks and recreation staff, school districts, social service agencies, and researchers to understand the underlying systemic factors that were contributing to youth violence, death, or incarceration. The meetings confirmed that youth were not receiving critical support services because, in part, those services were not connected and communicating with each other.
High school dropout rates were at a crisis-level, with 23 to 42 percent of African-American and Latino youth not finishing high school. The safety net of programs, which once made the city of San Diego a leader in keeping young people safe, had unraveled.
SDOP partnered with the San Diego Workforce Partnership; the Commission on Gang Prevention, Intervention, and Suppression; the City of San Diego Mayor’s Office; County of San Diego – Health and Human Services Agency; San Diego Unified School District; and others to develop what is now San Diego Youth Development Office (YDO). Based on similar models in other regions (such as Safe Passages in Oakland and The Advancement Project in Los Angeles), the purpose of YDO is to serve as a neutral convener to ensure that the various perspectives and approaches in the county are coordinated to support San Diego’s youth. It acknowledges that no one entity can support San Diego’s youth, and that coordination and collaboration must be institutionalized and resident-driven to be sustainable. Such an institutionalized, systems-level approach can compel, measure, and reward ongoing coordination and collaboration for both policy development and service provision.
YDO does not seek to provide direct services. Its role is to encourage service integration and collaboration through identifying commonalities and gaps. In March 2012, YDO received seed funding from the California Endowment to hire a Director and develop a strong presence in the community. It has developed a structure to integrate and coordinate the different levels of policy and services and strives to be grounded in the wisdom of the communities it is committed to support.
YDO Advisory Board
Margie de Ruyter (CO-CHAIR)
Consultant, Community and Workforce Development
Public Consulting Group
Kevin Malone (Co-Chair)
San Diego Organizing Project
Rebecca F. Phillpott
(Retired) Program Manager, Dropout Prevention
San Diego Unified School District
Nelli Garton, Ph.D.
Garton Strategy Group
San Diego Youth Development Office
925 B Street, Suite 301 | San Diego, CA 92101
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