The mission of the African American Youth Harvest Foundation (AAYHF or Harvest Foundation) is to effectually address disparities and ensure low-barrier access to vital educational, economic, and enrichment resources to under-served, at-risk youth and their families on their path to self-sufficiency.
Impact StatementLeadership is provided by Michael Lofton, Founder|CEO, who founded the organization after identifying the need to help youth and their families who are in need or in crisis transition into an end goal of self-sufficiency. We have a proven success of effectively harnessing community partnerships and spearheading collaborative services initiatives, since inception in 2006.
Within the community we serve we have more nonprofits per capita than another other major metro area in Texas and the Southwest US, with nearly 6,000 nonprofits in Austin metro area. Uniquely,the African American Youth Harvest Foundation confidently engages mission aligned service partners to effectively leverage the community investments for the greatest community impact. The Harvest Foundation's collaborative initiatives ensure low barrier access to vital resources intended to transition youth and families toward self-sufficiency and effectually address the disparities of health, educational success and economic stability throughout the most vulnerable neighborhoods. Vulnerabilities of racial and socioeconomic origin, impacting the lives of our children and community members across Austin | Travis County.
Without racial exclusion, we work to ensure that no child or family is without opportunities that promote self-betterment, expansion of life experiences and ambitions beyond neighborhood regularities. We promote Equity through low barrier access to vital resources that Enrich, Educate, and Employ at-risk youth and families, promoting self-sufficiency and enhancing their opportunities to flourish and reach their potential through Community based, Culturally competent, and Collaborative initiatives. Through our initiatives we support and strengthen family and provide a platform that debunks many inflexible notions of what at risk and impoverished youth and families are capable of.
The demographics of our current clients are as follows: African-American (65%), Hispanic (35%), and White/Caucasian (5%) Since inception, we have served more than 9,000 low-income, at-risk youth and their family members through our Enrichment| Education| Employment initiatives, which include mentoring and case management, individual and family physical|behavioral|and mental health and substance abuse, workforce development, digital inclusion\STEM education, restorative justice focused community alternatives to school suspensions and truancy prevention, and community entrepreneurial and employment opportunities.Additionally, more than 2,000 youth and adults have attended our community conferences, where we help improve our community by focusing on supporting and strengthening the family unit and addressing preconceived notions of minority youth.
Needs StatementNeeds Statement
Our belief is that at-risk youth are best served through the outreach and engagement that the Harvest Foundation provides. Through this holistic approach, we seek to not only serve our adolescent clients but also to strengthen the familial unit by providing resources and support that will facilitate a successful transition to self-sufficiency and full autonomy. When a middle school student, for example, is referred to us for case management by a local Independent School District, our staff meets with their entire family to identify and address the individual needs of all family members. An unemployed parent might be referred to our Workforce Development program, or a sibling in need of mental health counseling might be referred to our internal, licensed provider. By taking this approach, we are able to be a trusted resource in the community and our impact is felt beyond the youth we initially work with. But for every child we serve, there is another child on our waiting list longing to be a part of our free programs.
When you donate to the Harvest Foundaton, your gift allows the foundation to continue to provide our services and programs free of charge and provide a safe environment to youth that are at-risk of getting involved in gangs, illegal drug activity, teen pregnancy or other risky behaviors.
In 2015, I graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor's Degree in Human Development and Family Studies. Post-graduation, I remained at the university to pursue my masters in Counseling. In my current work assignment, I am a Male Family Engagement Coach for a non-profit, Santa Maria Hostel, Inc. in Houston, TX. I work with the male counterparts recovering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Building connections with others and focusing on the enrichment of family reunification are all qualities that have been instilled in me through my connecting with AAYHF. I have joined the efforts of helping others to live healthy, productive and self-sustainable lives, just as AAYHF did for me.
I truly appreciate and value everything AAYHF has done for me and the many others who find themselves in similar situations as mine. This describes our heart at AAYHF-to help youth that are disadvantaged secure a path to self-sufficiency and close the pipeline to prison. Because when one youth improves their life it changes the lives of countless other youth and adults!"
-AAYHF Student, Terrill Taylor
- Mentor a young person, or small group of youth.
- Be a guest speaker or panelist for special events or career exposure activities.
- Lead or assist with ongoing programs, such as our STEM activities, Krew 12 media group, parenting support groups, etc.
- Lend a hand with special events such as fundraisers, field trips, summer camps or AAYHF Conferences.
Plug into any of the following specific events in 2018 (contact us for details):
- AAYHF Welcome Sessions: Periodic "open house" events at the African American Youth Resource Center (AAYRC), where we share about our programs and services and connect those who want to get involved.
- Summer Youth Employment Conference (Feb. 17th): Training for over 300 youth to get summer jobs with the City of Austin and Travis County. General event assistance needed.
- Other AAYHF Conferences (dates TBD): Workshop facilitators, guest speakers and general event assistance needed.
- March 1st (Amplify Day!): "Donations & Dominoes" fundraising event at the AAYRC. General event assistance needed.
- STEM Girls Service Learning Project (May 2018): One-day service-learning project presentation, where our all girl STEM afterschool program, Sugar Coders, will display their community solutions using the STEM skills they learned. Volunteers can make observations and provide feedback both in person or virtually.
- Urban University Summer Camps (June 1 through July 14): Workshop facilitators, guest speakers, field trips hosts or assistants, program assistants and general event assistance needed.
- Golf Tourney & Gala (Fall 2018, dates TBD): General event assistance. Or participate and invite friends!