Racism, segregation and fears about the immigration status of friends and family.
One22 Executive Director Sharel Lund Love said if residents think those are issues only in big cities or other parts of the country, they should think again. They also are real struggles for teenagers living in Jackson.
“We are not any different,” Love said. “We think we are in a bubble, and we are in many ways. We are unique and special, but these themes are universal. Just because we live in a rural mountain town with relatively high health, we need to pay attention to the same things families need to pay attention to across the country. We aren’t immune.”
One22 released its analysis of at-risk and in-need middle and high school students in Teton County last week. The Community Youth Needs Assessment was funded by a Laura Jane Musser Fund grant. Program Director Carey Stanley wrote the grant to conduct research in the wake of the 2016 merger of El Puente, the Community Resource Center and Latino Resource Center, which make up One22 today.
Instead of simply continuing with the previous organizations’ programing, One22’s strategic process included looking into new areas of focus and gathering data to determine what the community’s needs were to create new programming. Research was conducted in the summer and fall of 2017; it included quantitative and qualitative data in English and Spanish, as well as interviews with iPads.
“It’s an interesting tool for all of our organizations to sit back and say, ‘What can we do?’” Stanley said.
Because the report was commissioned specifically for nonprofits working with at-risk middle and high school students, Stanley said nothing really surprised her.
“We see this crisis in the door every day,” she said.
But the results might be surprising to residents who tangentially know there are issues, but don’t know quite where to begin. Stanley encouraged interested readers to check out the full report at One22JH.org.
Love and Stanley both touted the number of partners involved in the study — more than two dozen organizations in the systems of education group — saying it speaks to the collaborative nature of nonprofits in Jackson.
“They’re like an army,” Love said. “They say, ‘Tell us what to do, tell us how we can help.’”
The report recommends budgeting classes for families subsisting on limited incomes, education on responsible social media use for parents and youths, evidence-based sexual education programming for youth, parenting classes and facilitated activities for families, intercultural programming to build upon commonalities and to increase integration between races in Teton County, and continued research on local youth and family needs.
“It’s going to require multiple conversations, particularly around deeper topics,” Stanley said. “These complex class issues aren’t unique to Jackson.”
Programming will be built from there. Stanley said some of the report’s statistics will act as fodder for donations to worthy organizations with current programs, while other statistics could help new programs get off the ground.
“It’s fuel to the fire,” Stanley said.
“I think this will be helpful in getting some things that might already be in an emerging stage,” she said. “It helps get a foothold, get traction and save time. The people working in these fields, these people already know this stuff instinctually — but that’s not always enough to get something off the ground.”