Northeastern University is now accepting applicants for its highly successful Youth Development Initiative Project (YDIP). The project only accepts 30 member families into a cohort every seven years.
YDIP is aimed at students currently in sixth grade and their families from housing developments neighboring Northeastern. The program provides the students with academic and counseling programming during the school year, after school and Saturdays, as well as a six-week summer program that focuses on career exposure, “soft skill” development and academic courses. The mission of the program is to help children finish secondary school, learn life skills and gain entrance to—and successfully complete—higher education.
Soft skills include knowledge of how to handle bullying, resiliency, grit, time management, resource location, how to advocate for oneself and others, how to be self-sufficient and other similar skills, YDIP Coordinator Carl Barrows told the Gazette.
“We work with the same group [for seven years], developing relationships and rapport, a sense of community and a sense of family,” Barrows told the Gazette this week. “We can come up with better solutions that way.”
“This is the year, this is the time to reach out,” he continued. “Once we reach capacity, it’s over until a family removes itself, or god forbid, we have to remove a family.”
The long-term nature of the program is both an asset and a liability. Because the families are involved long-term, the YDIP staff can work with them as a group from middle school through high school graduation. But the program can only take in 30 member families every seven years.
“We want to increase [that number] sustainably,” Barrows said. “Obviously, funding is an issue. We have to make sure we have that in place with a program this intense. Eventually, we want to reach more families, but at this moment, we want to reach our capacity of 30.”
Northeastern hosted an informational session on its campus March 1, but applications are still open. While YDIP does not have a website, families can still contact Barrows to get more information and to apply at 617-373-7210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s really tough work, but it’s really rewarding when you see families get better as a whole,” Barrows said. There are plans to create a website, Facebook page and Twitter account for the next cohort, he said.