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Nonprofit takes its mission to ’burbs

Northeast Parent & Child trying to expand its reach outside city

A former Northeast student sprays foam insulation in a home for his job at Zero Draft. The non-profit teaches career skills in energy efficient construction techniques.

A former Northeast student sprays foam insulation in a home for his job at Zero Draft. The non-profit teaches career skills in energy efficient construction techniques. Submitted photo

— One challenge in reaching out to people in the towns and villages is transportation, Russo said. Unlike in the city, there aren’t many bus stops and many suburban residents have never ridden a bus.

“Typically, people who are coming from the outside areas are not really bus goers necessarily, so I think transportation is one of our biggest hurdles,” she said.

White said serving the post-high school demographic is also difficult, because there is not a “central gathering place” to find such people. Russo added trying to reach people who aren’t engaged and need services is difficult, since they aren’t engaged.

“We are trying to reach people in their individual homes or in their small peer and social (groups),” White said.

Recently, Northeast started to serve people even younger and now reaches out to 16-year-olds. This allowed them to go into schools and offer services to students.

Russo said there are fewer students to reach in districts like Niskayuna, where college attendance and graduation rates are “huge.” Most of those students already have a plan for after high school, she said.

Northeast has struggled to make connections in Niskayuna and Scotia-Glenville schools, but the organization is making inroads in Schalmont and Mohonasen.

The organization is also trying to increase name recognition through attendance at community events like the harvest festival in Scotia. This still hasn’t results in much recruitment.

“We have to figure out how to reach them better, whether it is through their peers … or community outreach,” White said. “There is no perfect formula.”

Once people come through the door, they generally find the programming to be helpful. Those graduates, White said, are key to growing the programming.

“The way we built the YouthBuild program in the city was by graduates becoming our best advocates,” he said. “Young adults, they listen to their peers more so than anything else we might do.”

To find out more information about Northeast Parents & Child Society’s programs and services, visit neparentchild.org. Russo said no one has been turned away before, even if they fell above its income guidelines.

“If you need help, you will get help in this building,” White said.

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