Life & Work with Russell Degnan, CEO

http://voyagela.com/interview/life-work-russell-degnan-san-bernardino/

To view the original article from VoyageLA

 Today we’d like to introduce you to Russell Degnan.

Russell Degnan is a passionate change maker who has followed in the footsteps of his father (Bill Degnan) who founded Operation New Hope (ONH) 1981. In 1996, he would begin his career journey as a group counselor assigned to ONH’s contract with Riverside County’s Probation Department and Los Angeles County Juvenile Parole. In 2001 Russell earned his California Drugs and Alcohol Certificate at San Bernardino Valley College. Throughout the turn of the 2000’s Russell gained a wealth of experience and knowledge managing contracts and grants working alongside the Executive Director at the San Gabriel Conservation Corps, sitting on Watts Gangs and Drugs Taskforce Board, Riversides Parks and Recreation Youth Steering Committee, and as appointee on San Bernardino/Riverside Counties Catholic Dioceses Youth Advisory Board. Russell stepped into ONH’s Executive Director role in 2009; his goal was to develop and implement a Youth Opportunity Center to provide meaningful life skill resources for disadvantaged youth. Increase the success rate of those classified as “dropouts” throughout San Bernardino County by providing ONH’s Evidence Based Practice of case management, educational opportunities, life skills, and career pathway programs. With these supportive services, he was confident that ONH could provide the necessary resources to assist San Bernardino County in achieving success with the youth he dedicated his career, those often referred to as “at-risk”. Foster Youth, Teen Parents, Homeless, Mental Health, and those experiencing the Judicial System.

In 2010, Russell would successfully develop a relationship and critical funding from the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The funding kicked started the development of ONH’s Youth Opportunity Center’s. One of the first steps in the implementation process ONH would enter into a meaningful partnership with Learn4Life Charter Concepts and John Muir Charter Schools. The partnership with the Schools provides ONH students with a high school education that is tailored to the student’s needs, and most importantly providing aged out youth the opportunity to complete their high school diploma (ages 18 – 24). ONH provides students with small class sizes and a family-like atmosphere that teaches the importance of life, job and leadership skills. Russell explained, “It is crucial for students to receive their high school diploma. Having their diploma allows them to gain employment or enroll in a secondary institution. We provide our students with soft skill sets that make them attractive to potential employers, they receive training on job readiness, financial literacy, leadership, anger management, substance abuse, and everything in between.” To help make their students even more competitive in the job market, Russell would lead his team in developing worksite partnership with employers, so ONH students can have the opportunity to complete a three-month internship with an array of workforce sector. “Each element of ourprogram is critical to building healthy young men and women,” Degnan said.

At the beginning of the year (2016), ONH saw an additional growth. Russell Degnan moved from executive director to chief operating officer, which gave him the freedom and ability to attend workshops and promote Operation New Hope in the community. “Operation New Hope seeks to be the premier youth opportunity center in the Inland Empire,” Russell Degnan explained. “The high school dropout rate is a huge epidemic across the nation. Our goal is to be a positive solution for our youth, our communities and the taxpayers.” In the next ten years, Team ONH envisions youth opportunity centers in other communities, particularly in communities with the at-risk youth. In addition to their youth opportunity centers, Operation New Hope’s evidence-based trauma-informed life skills curriculum are currently being used in Soledad and Salinas Valley State Prison (California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation), juvenile facilities throughout the Country, group homes, transitional living homes and church outreach programs. Russell credits the success of his father’s program to ONH’s values. “Our success is built on our belief that lives must be built on healthy relationships,” Russell explains.

Although ONH continues to expand to meet the growing demand, the program’s growth is limited due to financial constraints. The programs ONH offers are part of reimburse contracts, which can create cash flow problems. Operation New Hope’s Board of Directors has made it their personal mission to build a solid cash reserve to alleviate the burden of waiting on reimbursements from a number of government agencies. Operation New Hope currently employs ten and serves over 150 students daily. Since 2010, 436 students have successfully graduated with their High School Diploma and 4867 students have successfully completed their Career Pathway Program which 93% are employed and or enrolled in to post-secondary education. Currently, ONH’s high school has 65 students enrolled and the Workforce Program has 110 students. All students range in age from 16 to 25. Ultimately Russell’s passion is to provide underserved youth who have been expected to be the failures in society a place where they experience genuine love, hope, and opportunities to succeed in life. Weekly you will find him in the community encouraging youth, actively engaging community leaders, and or developing community partnerships to help empower his beloved students he has devoted his entire life to serve. Russell is one of the most loyal and sincere voices for our under-served youth.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The process has been quite a journey, consistently learning and growing through each step of the way. I often share ONH was developed out of the love of helping and providing those in need with opportunities to succeed in life. My education was in the Human Service schools, not in the Business schools. Growing a business to expand our outreach has been challenging. I have been extremely fortunate to have an amazing support system with our County, City, and School District partnerships. They have provided and sent me to non-profit management workshops to increase my knowledge in business management, grant writing, fundraising, board development, and an array of other crucial business classes. The constant challenge is securing funding to ensure our youth are provided with the necessary resources they need to succeed. I am encouraged with my professional growth within fund-developing these past five years; I am excited to continue to put in practice what I have learned from these business classes our government partnerships have provided. I do not view the process as a struggle but opportunities to learn, grow, and become a better leader.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Working with Operation New Hope since 1996, I have developed my work experience at every level. Wearing every hat in the human service and community-based organization sector from volunteer, receptionist, janitor, mentor, tutor, group counselor, case manager, program manager, and today CEO. 2009 ONH’s budget had three contracts valuing $80,000 per year, life skills workshops was our sole resource. At this time ONH had two employees. Today ONH budgets exceed $500,000. We are a key-stake holder in the communities we serve, providing an evidence-based trauma-informed youth opportunity center. I have gained extensive knowledge how to build strong collaborative teams across State/County/City Departments. It humbles when I have my peers and county leadership refer to me as one of the leaders in truly collaborating.

During my professional development, I have focused on the value of strategic planning to identify and attain program goals. I believe strategic planning is instrumental to ensure that our doors do not close and leave a void for the families and youth who depend on our resources. Program management; I excel in leveraging existing programs and grants to procure new grant funding. Success in overseeing contracts with local government has provided me with the essential experience and understanding into proposal writing, contract compliance, and monitoring of grant-funded programs. Public affairs strategies I have exceled in building and maintaining collaborations with community-based organization, fostering imperative relationships with elected officials and their staff at all levels of government. My peers have often referred to me as a “people person” and “consensus builder” who can work with people effectively on all levels.

What does success mean to you?
Success is the ability to have what I refer to as the 3 H’s working together. Our Head, Hands, and Heart; everyone has the thoughts to be successful.  The question is, will you have the passion and desire to put in the daily work when the Head says, “I can’t”, and not everyone has the Heart to bounce back and look in the mirror when failure hits the Head and the Hands.

Those who have the desire to learn from mistakes, tough times, and bounce back have the secret ingredient that I like to call Grit. Those who possess Grit find a way to keep the 3 H’s in sync to keep moving forward to achieve what their Head and Heart desire – SUCCESS.

Pricing:

  • All our services and resources are free to our youth and families

Contact Info:

How to Write Quality Goals and Objectives by Funding For Good

It does not have to be hard to write quality goals and objectives. Whether for grants, strategic planning or program design, there are some easy steps to follow for success.

There are a few steps you can take now, to ensure you will write quality goals and objectives that are usable, easily understood and can be measured and tracked.  Read the view article by Mandy Pearce…

https://fundingforgood.org/how-to-write-quality-goals-and-objectives/?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=What+are+Evaluation+Methods%3F&utm_campaign=What+are+Evaluation+Methods%3F

Recruiting and Retaining Educators of Color Matters
All students benefit from having educators and
administrators of color. Studies show that when schools
are more racially and ethnically diverse, students’
academic performance improves, more positive role
modeling occurs, teachers and students tend to be more
culturally aware, and students are less likely to hold
implicit biases in adulthood.
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While the number of educators of color has grown
in recent years, studies also show that schools and
districts struggle to recruit and retain newly hired
educators of color. Educators of color, who are more
likely to enter the profession from alternate career
pathways, cite experiencing an antagonistic school
culture, navigating unfavorable conditions, and bearing
high costs as reasons for leaving the profession.
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Improving both recruitment and retention of educators
of color is critical to building inclusive and welcoming
learning environments for both students and educators.
Building and Sustaining a Diverse STEM Teacher Pipeline
California is a leader in technological innovation and is known across the world for
putting forward bold, creative solutions in science, technology, engineering, and math
(STEM). Currently, that reputation falls short in California’s public education system: Too
few students in our pre-K through high school classrooms have access to STEM learning
opportunities and well-prepared STEM teachers that reflect the diversity of our state.
Fellowship Initiative Webinar 11/10/2020
In celebration of the 10-year anniversary of The Fellowship Initiative,

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is partnering with MENTOR to sponsor a two-part series of virtual events focused on the academic and career success of young men of color. We will elevate the research and voices of young leaders, mentors and program partners focused on supporting young men of color in their pursuit of academic, career and life goals. Please join us for one or both of these interactive sessions that will elevate promising practices and bold new ideas.
Young Men of Color Achieving Academic Excellence – November 10 from 2:30-4:00pm EST – This event will highlight research on what young men of color need to achieve academic excellence to and through post-secondary education. It will elevate and engage the voices of young leaders and mentors along with practitioners leading promising practices. We will focus on defining and achieving success in a holistic approach including mental health and wellness, financial literacy, relationships, family engagement, and identity. Register here.
Career Preparation & Success with Young Men of Color – December 15 from 2:30-4:00pm EST – This event will highlight research on what young men of color need to prepare for and succeed in a career. It will elevate the voices of young leaders and mentors along with practitioners and employers dedicated to advancing pathways and opportunities for diverse, emerging talent. We will focus on building and leveraging webs of support to strengthen a pathway to career and beyond. Register here.
EVENT LOGISTICS
Each event will be facilitated on Zoom – see calendar invite.
Each event is 90 minutes.
Welcome remarks (3-5 mins)
Co-moderated panel discussion (45 mins)
Breakout room discussions (30 mins)
Debrief and closing (10 mins)
SPEAKERS
Event #1 – Young Men of Color Achieving Academic Excellence
Co-Moderators:
Marcus Strother – President and CEO of MENTOR California
Harry Johnson – Co-Founder of Brothers@
Panelists:
Brandon Busteed – President of University Partners and Global Head of Learn-Work Innovation at Kaplan, Inc.
Jerome Joseph – Executive Director of America Needs You New York
Edgar Dacto – TFI Fellow and Lafayette College Senior
Jordan Stockdale – Executive Director of the Young Men’s Initiative
Event #2 – Career Preparation & Success with Young Men of Color
Co-Moderators:
Sadiq Ali – Executive Director of Maryland MENTOR
Shemar Clarke – TFI Fellow and Baruch College Senior
Panelists:
Miles Spearman – University of Cincinnati Sophomore
Claude Green – Director of Journeys Diversity & Inclusion at Costco Wholesale
Shannon Varga – Research Assistant Professor in the Wheelock College of Education & Human Development at Boston University and Associate Director of Research and Evaluation for the CERES Institute for Children and Youth
Chauncey Nartay – Managing Partner of the Adult Learning Leaders Institute (ALL IN) and Senior HR Business Partner at General Assembly
After-School Learning Connecting School and Afterschool With Shared Practices

In Tacoma, a community-wide effort to better serve children is underway, and the first step is common language and shared best practices among the adults.

https://www.edutopia.org/video/connecting-school-and-afterschool-shared-practices?utm_content=linkpos&utm_campaign=dedicatedsend-2020-10-08&utm_source=edutopia-universe&utm_medium=email&fbclid=IwAR0_RrK2f5RqdXPwIbNOgRikxj-k38Agq2PiNIOF8nCQNrk_1iKa9dKaBsc

 

Moving From the Comfort Zone to the Challenge Zone

When we are faced with challenges, our brains are activated to learn new things—so long as a foundation of safety, belonging, and trust is there as well.

https://www.edutopia.org/video/moving-comfort-zone-challenge-zone?utm_content=linkpos&utm_campaign=dedicatedsend-2020-10-08&utm_source=edutopia-universe&utm_medium=email&fbclid=IwAR3LFPu3berTRE-N__kpMwfVEr1_rh9pcyBmSNabgr7dcRmCos6oxFTU00g

 

Yr. 1 Dash Board – Youth Reinvestment Program

Year 1 of our CA Board of Community Corrections – Youth Reinvestment Program Dash Board.

Year 1 was a success.

It has been an honor to collaborate and work the City of San Bernardino Municipal Government – Community Prevention Programs on California Board of State and Community Corrections Youth Reinvestment Grant.
Some data captured on the success we had in the first 9 months of the program collaborating with Urban Conservation Corps of the Inland Empire. We look forward to the next 2 years creating opportunities for youth to succeed in life.
A recap of our mission and goals of the program we are providing San Bernardino:
The City of San Bernardino (SB) has been challenged by high levels of crime for decades; likewise, the juvenile population has been negatively impacted. A multitude of factors influence the situation, including: lack of employment, poverty, low levels of education, higher than average school dropout and delinquency rates. These factors create an environment ripe for criminal and gang activity.
The purpose of San Bernardino Youth Reinvestment grant program is to implement an evidence-based, culturally relevant, trauma-informed, and developmentally appropriate
program initiative that addresses the unique needs of youth (ages 14 to 21) that are at risk of or are fluctuating between the child welfare and juvenile justice system.
The San Bernardino Youth Reinvestment grant program will achieve this through the development of a coordinated best practice system of diversion referrals. The program will also use evidence based best-practice Wrap around Case Management
and Social Services, as well as the use of a trauma-informed evidence-based curriculum Operation New Hope. The program will also weave into its program restorative justice
where young people will be involved in community services throughout the City, as well as vocational training through the local Certified Conservation Corps.