Operation New Hope gives San Bernardino students skills to pursue their dreams

By: Dr. Margaret Hill

Original article San Bernardino: https://www.sbsun.com/2021/04/01/operation-new-hope-gives-san-bernardino-students-skills-to-pursue-their-dreams/?fbclid=IwAR0QGnFD79Z7zC-ImYppJv-Vx92JPdNjxKIWZkXK2LpYPvdLo7bE8fJoR-0

Founded 40 years ago, Operation New Hope “envisions a community in which all youth, without regard of their living situation, have an equal opportunity to pursue their goals and dreams, and an equal likelihood of achieving them.”

This organization is dedicated to understanding the challenges of all students, including out-of-school youth, aiming to increase the success rate of dropouts through case management, life skills, leadership development, and workforce development to develop personalized roadmaps to achieving success.

To complement their curriculum, which addresses each student’s needs, the organization teaches essential life skills and encourages a “lifestyle change based on personal responsibility.” Activities in the program include outreach efforts such as this past February’s “Love Is A Warm Blanket” initiative, offering hygiene kits, clothing and tents to the homeless community.

All youth enrolled in the program will participate in a restorative justice program. The restorative justice program will focus on diverting youth from the juvenile justice system, reducing recidivism, as well as focusing on the needs of victims and the community where the crime occurs. The restorative justice program will engage youth in visible and valuable service-learning projects designed to restore the community, such as improving urban parks and neighborhoods. The restorative justice model, a service-learning project, connects youth back to the community in a positive way and gives them a sense of engagement in their community. The service-learning component helps develop leadership skills by linking career exploration and improving community engagement. The program is designed to promote a collaborative approach so youth can be leaders and provide civic engagement for positive change in their community.

Candidates for the program are youth who have a disability, are justice impacted, homeless, foster youth, pregnant or parenting, low-income individuals, dropouts, as well as those who have graduated from high school but are basic-skills deficient or are English-language learners, requiring additional assistance to enter or complete an educational program to enter higher education and/or the workforce.

The ultimate goal is for our youth to gain employment in high growth, high demand career fields. The program aims to serve those who are facing the greatest barriers and future economic challenges to connect them to educational and employment opportunities.

Services/resources included in the Youth Opportunity Center are: high school diploma program, tutoring, alternative secondary school/dropout recovery services, mentoring, life skills, career pathways workshops, counseling, homeless services, community service opportunities, food program, clothing closet, human trafficking support, domestic violence support, and internships.

Robynee Willis had this to say about the program: “Before I started participating in this program, I didn’t have any goals or any motivation, but after attending, I’m setting goals, having self-motivation and even found self-love.”

Aryana De La Torre had this to say: “Operation New Hope has exceeded every expectation I could have ever had. They have provided me the stable environment, patience and compassion that I had been seeking since I was a child. The curriculum and the staff have provided me the tools and resources that I needed in order to become the best version of myself, because they believed in me even when I did not believe in myself.”

Thanks, Operation New Hope, for giving our youth an opportunity to recognize their skills and capabilities.  You are certainly a part of the village.

Margaret Hill is a member of the San Bernardino City Unified School District board.