The PYFC was born as a response to four homicides and five shootings that occurred on the Westside in October of 1998. Community advocates organized a 1,000 people Vigil for Peace and led various community forums, focus groups and actions at SM City Council to call for a new approach in mediating youth and gang violence. Since 1989 more than 42 homicides have permanently distressed the quality of life for families and residents of the Pico Neighborhood. The PYFC, its mission statement and program model represents a community-based alternative to the failed practice of overly relying on a punishment and prison approach to the social condition of at-risk youth. To be certain, the PYFC has saved many lives, and we have met our overarching goal of reducing youth gang membership and gang violence in our community.
The PYFC is the only non-profit agency in Santa Monica that targets at-risk 16-24 year olds. Through months of planning and focus groups, PYFC has developed innovative and one of a kind programs for this target population including the first-ever public recording studio. Throughout the ten years of service more than 1,300 registered youth from our community have benefitted from the services, support and leadership development offered at PYFC. As evidenced in 10 years of program reports to the City, hundreds of marginalized youth have attained acceptance into college, attained a GED, learned life skills necessary for success in the workforce, attained employment and most importantly experienced positive transformation leaving destructive life styles to become productive members of our community. PYFC’s service model has benefitted many individual youth but also through its leadership and advocacy the PYFC has played a major role in bringing positive social change and public resources to the Pico Neighborhood.
The City of Santa Monica, its youth population and the Pico Neighborhood has benefitted tremendously from the PYFC’s dual service approach of providing direct services to youth and also community organizing and advocacy. Some of the benefits of our advocacy include the teen center at VAP, the soon to be built Pico Branch Library, our successful campaign to expand environmental protections for Pico residents and most noticeably the City-wide Cradle to Career “collective impact” initiative. All of these social gains, in fact the PYFC’s birth were accomplished because of PYFC’s mission of direct services, advocacy and social justice .
Since July 1, 2012 PYFC has transitioned to Social Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE) with noticeable success and improvements in administration and fiscal management. For example, SEE/PYFC has met 27 of the 28 benchmarks the City established as part of the six-month last chance agreement. In addition, we have met a great majority of the City’s funding conditions for the 6 month period. Most professionals would agree that it is challenging to turn an organization around in six months but we are proud of our work and believe that with time, support and partnership we can strengthen the organizational capacity of the SEE/PYFC partnership. Although we are not without our faults, it should be noted that the administrative problems that led to the “last chance” agreement have not been repeated and the SEE/PYFC partnership has brought forward greater transparency and accountability.
The City staff recommendation to defund the PYFC is premature and would represent a major set back to the organization that has been built and the service model that our youth and community depend on for support. The root cause of gang violence is poverty and the marginalization that poverty produces. PYFC has served as a mediating institution between the City government and low income youth and families in the Pico Neighborhood and beyond. There is no comparable organization that can fill the void in the absence of the PYFC. To save the organization for the benefit of the youth and community served we recommend the following transition plan:
PYFC's Transition Plan:
Announce resignation and transition of the Executive Director effective April 30, 2013 and allow for the Advisory Board to negotiate in good faith a role that supports the incoming leadership and the organization for the months of May and June.
Continue the relationship between SEE and PYFC.
Identify any fiscal management concerns and set clear benchmarks, policies and protocols on fiscal management and reporting to ensure the proper management of City and non-City funds.
Provide training for the reconstituted Advisory Board to strengthen its governance and accountability over all PYFC affairs.
Provide orientation on the current PYFC mission statement for all Board members.
Engage in an inclusive community process to discuss PYFC’s current mission and determine with broad community input the new direction for PYFC services and advocacy.
Out of this community process begin the development of a five year strategic plan.
Keep current PYFC staff and develop a staff development and staff evaluation plan.