by Kaitlin Jackson
In less than three months of operation in the Doris W. Jones Family Resource Building in Niagara Falls, Catholic Charities’ educational program Tomorrow’s Youth Today (TYT) is already transforming lives. “I have never been so excited to learn in my life,” said Victoria, a Tomorrow’s Youth Today student. “I would like to see more kids come to this program.”
Through the TYT program, youth ages 16 to 24 can receive free high school equivalency classes, job skills training, paid internships, high school equivalency tutoring, post-secondary school education planning and more.
Though the program has been operating in Erie County for several decades, it was expanded to serve Niagara County in 2016. The Doris W. Jones Family Resource Building, 3001 9th St., is the newest of five TYT locations in Niagara County.
“The Doris W. Jones Family Resource Building is really an ideal location for our program,” said Ken Jarosz, Catholic Charities program supervisor. “The Department of Labor is housed in this building, and there are several other community programs, such as universal preschool, that are running alongside us. It seemed like a natural fit for our education program. We want to catch the eyes of the youth in the area and let them know that these resources are readily available to them.”
Inside the classroom, TYT is known for catering to each student when it comes to learning. Victoria, like other students in the program, cited the individualized approach to learning as a marker of its success. Victoria, who is working toward her high school equivalency, said, “It’s easier for me to learn that way, to understand, to ask my own questions.”
Jarosz said individualized learning at the student’s own pace is just one facet of the program, which aims to support students in all areas of their lives.
“The approach of Tomorrow’s Youth Today program is really threefold,” said Jarosz. “First, we assess our students. We make sure they’re eligible, and we address any barriers, such as transportation, that might hinder them. Second, we work with them to figure out what their individualized goals are, whether that is getting their high school equivalency, going to college or obtaining gainful employment. Third, we offer case management. We check in with our students, and we make sure to work through any obstacles they might be facing outside of the classroom. Our goal, and really our passion, is to make them successful.”
Currently, eight students are enrolled at the site, and there is room for more students. Individuals who are interested in joining the program or learning more can call or text
“Very often transportation, or the lack thereof, hinders people from having access to obtaining education and/or employment opportunities,” said Tomorrow Allen-Collins, general manager of the Doris W. Jones Family Resource Building. “It is very exciting to know that TYT is here in an accessible location for the youth. The unique design of the program will meet non-traditional students right where they are and give them an opportunity to get back on track or be ahead. We are excited about being able to serve the community in this way.”
In addition to the site at the Doris W. Jones building, the Tomorrow’s Youth Today program is offered in Niagara County at: Catholic Charities North Tonawanda location, 1465 Payne Ave.; in Niagara Falls at the Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club, 725 17th St., and at Word of Life Ministries, 1941 Hyde Park Blvd.; and in Lockport at 450 Bewley Building, Market at Main. For more information or to begin the enrollment process, please call (716) 694-7749, ext. 218.