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Our Mission & History
Mission: Empowering youth, families, and community for greater success. It is SVYC’s belief that every young person, ages 5-21, living in the Sun Valley neighborhood deserves equal opportunities for growth and success.
The Sun Valley neighborhood has a long history of crime, poverty and low academic performance. Community and civic leaders, residents and service providers performed a comprehensive neighborhood assessment in 1999 to determine the root causes of these marginal outcomes. Findings revealed that the greatest need—and greatest opportunity to make a sustained difference—was to offer youth services. The Sun Valley Youth Center was born in 1999 as a result of these findings. Founded by a church and other key community stakeholders, the Sun Valley Youth Center is a faith-based organization that serves youth in Sun Valley regardless of their socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or religion.
Today, the SVYC serves 40 elementary schoolers and 20 teens. We enroll our youth beginning in kindergarten and support them through high school graduation, by which point many have staffed our team. Our primary focus is to walk through life with our youth and their families.
Most of the youth that we serve struggle with overcoming obstacles, and so our approach is rooted in trauma-informed practices. To put it simply: when our kids run, we run with them, help them regulate, and bring them back. We are in the business of building trust and we seek to provide a safe place for all members of the Sun Valley community to find support.
Some of the main challenges in Sun Valley are:
- Teen Pregnancy: The teen pregnancy rate is three times higher in Sun Valley than throughout the 7-county Denver metro area (Source: Piton Foundation). 51% of Sun Valley’s population is 17 years old or younger, which is more than double the average throughout Denver (Ibid).
- Low Levels of Academic Achievement/High Rates of High School Incompletion: Only 33% of Sun Valley’s adults completed high school and only 25% of those who didn’t complete high school have a GED (Source: Sun Valley Choice Neighborhood Community Survey, 10/25/16).
- Poverty: Sun Valley continues to be Denver’s poorest neighborhood, with 97% of its residents living in subsidized housing. The average income is only $13,163 per year (Source: Piton Foundation). Only 31% of Sun Valley’s adults are employed. Of those, 50% only work part-time (Choice Neighborhood Survey). 92% of students receive free school lunches.
- Crime: Sun Valley has one of the highest rates of crime in Colorado, with the rates of crimes such as rape, property crimes, and burglaries being 2-3.3 times higher than the national average.
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