This year brought new challenges for many of us. Young people faced great obstacles, and organizations had to do more with less to meet growing needs. 2020 also shined a light on the profound inequities and gaps within systems, especially the racial inequities that are felt daily by young people of color.
At TNOYS, we are grateful for the many partners and young people who worked with us to confront big challenges this year. Our team welcomed the opportunity to support members following the COVID-19 outbreak, and we launched new work to more meaningfully center equity, inclusion and youth voice in everything we do. 2020 was also the start of an exciting new chapter; in July, TNOYS welcomed new Executive Director Fedora Galasso, who has hit the ground running with initiatives to strengthen our mission, values, and network.
Our team is excited and hopeful for what’s next. Below we’ve rounded up a few milestones from 2020 that will drive our work forward in the new year.
Elevating Youth and Provider Voice to Drive Policy Change
This spring, TNOYS kicked off a months-long effort to center youth and provider voice in our policy priorities.
- We hosted a series of listening sessions where 180 youth serving providers from across systems discussed gaps in support, their concerns, and recommendations.
- TNOYS also heard from a diverse group of 80 youth and young adults during youth-specific listening sessions and one-on-one interviews about their lived expertise and the changes they would like to see.
- This work informed the cross-system agenda that will drive our policy advocacy in 2021. We look forward to working with TNOYS members and young people to secure policy changes that will make a difference for Texas’ youth and families.
Connecting Providers with Crucial Resources, Training, and Funding Opportunities
TNOYS connected organizations and their staff with webinars, trainings, and resources throughout this year.
- We launched several informative resource centers, including a Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Youth (CSEY) Resource Center, and an Emergency Response Resource Center.
- Following the COVID-19 outbreak, our team opened lines of communication between providers and state agencies, and distributed over $75,000 in mini-grants to assist members.
- Like many organizations, our team pivoted several events to a virtual format so that we could continue to support youth-serving providers despite the coronavirus pandemic. The 37th Annual Conference on Services to Youth and Families convened more than 500 youth and family service stakeholders from across Texas for our first fully virtual conference.
- In collaboration with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), TNOYS also hosted the virtual Texas Education for Homeless Children and Youth program summit, which brought together over 1,200 stakeholders to learn strategies to support youth experiencing homelessness in schools.
Building Opportunities for Young People, and Elevating Youth Voice
Youth partners took the lead on storytelling, public speaking, and development projects throughout the year.
- Youth partners presented several impactful workshops at the 37th Annual Conference, led trainings and workshops, and hosted listening sessions as part of our policy work.
- In 2021, we have big plans to more meaningfully engage young people in everything we do. TNOYS recently welcomed Engagement Manager Josue Rodriguez to lead a reimagined Young Adult Leadership Council.
TNOYS is excited for our next steps to drive change for youth and families in 2021. We invite you to collaborate with us and join as a TNOYS member if you have not already. Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the TNOYS newsletter and following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Thank you for your partnership and support— we look forward to working with you in the new year!