Northwest Youth Services Improving Outreach to Homeless Teens with Software Donations
Improving Outreach to Homeless Teens with Software Donations
Northwest Youth Services (NWYS) has served as an important lifeline for youth who are homeless and youth at risk of homelessness since 1976. The organization's mission is to help youth stay safe, heal family relationships, reconnect youth to the community, and promote self-reliance. Although the NWYS has never changed in its commitment to youth who are homeless, changing times have meant the organization has had to adjust its approach. Chiefly, youth have become increasingly dependent on technology and on finding ways to access it despite their often precarious living situations. If NWYS staff members were to optimally provide services to youth, they needed to be online. Outdated software and a staff and board that were not digitally savvy proved to be large obstacles in this regard.
A much-needed tech boost from Microsoft Live, Windows XP, and Office software was a huge leap forward for NWYS. With Windows Live, staff members have been able to use email to stay in touch with youth they serve. Office software has been highly useful for creating documents and cutting down on repetitive work. Windows Live has also allowed for online document sharing that's improved efficiency in working with the organization's board, making better use of staff members' time and skills. The confidence gained from these technological tools paved the way for NWYS' adoption of social media as another communications tool. The donated software and social media tools allowed NWYS to provide after-care services to six graduated youth in 2010, organize a community forum on youth homelessness, and host three highly successful fundraisers.