Who We Are
Family & Youth Initiative grew out of a need to support older teens in foster care who would otherwise have no caring adults in their lives.
Before we were Family & Youth Initiative, we were the Kidsave Weekend Miracles program, funded by a five year Adoption Opportunities grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We learned a lot through the work of that grant - both from the families and youth we served and the other Adoption Opportunities agencies. At the end of the HHS grant when Kidsave decided to close Weekend Miracles in DC, we were not willing to walk away from the wonderful teens then in the program or the many others also in foster care. We knew we could make a difference in their lives. We created Family & Youth Initiative to keep going and build on what we had begun.
Family & Youth Initiative is a non-profit organization. We incorporated in October 2010 and received our 501(c)3 status in March 2011.
The strength of our program comes from those who participate with us.
- DCFYI teens are some of the most interesting, fun, and resilient young people you could ever hope to meet.
- DCFYI adult volunteers are caring, dedicated, and committed to making a difference.
- DCFYI partners provide indispensable support, sponsoring engaging activities and helping us reach new volunteers.
- DCFYI staff keep the pieces connected and the program moving forward, under the oversight of our Board of Directors.
Theresa Vargas features DCFYI’s annual birthday party in her Washington Post column: “Making up for birthday parties that were never had, group gives older foster kids a chance to celebrate”
WGTS 91.9 honors Family & Youth Initiative Executive Director Susan Punnett as a Hometown Hero.
The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute honors DCFYI as an Angel in Adoption.
DCFYI board member Lisa Aguirre’s book “Faces of Foster Care: Messages of Hope, Hurt and Truth” is published.
A DCFYI mentor’s reflection on her mentee’s strengths and struggles appears in the “Close to Home” section of The Washington Post.
We received funding from the Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Fund for Children, Youth & Families, The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc., Foley Hoag Foundation, and three other family foundations.
- Served 35 teens in foster care and eight young adults who had aged out of foster care;
- Held 34 program events to bring together youth and caring adults interested in being in their lives;
- Matched nine more youth with DCFYI mentors and three with host families;
- Helped two DCFYI teens find adoptive homes.
We hired an Operations Coordinator, our second paid staff position.
DCFYI was selected for a 2018 Compass Micro Project.
Media about DCFYI included:
- Bittersweet Monthly Reader's Choice profile; and an
- interview with a DCFYI adoptive mom, her son, and the DCFYI Executive Director on Greater Washington Urban League On Track Radio.
Our programming continued to grow. In 2017, we:
- Served 30 teens in foster care and two young adults who had aged out of foster care;
- Held 18 program events to bring together those young people and caring adults interested in being in their lives;
- Matched 15 teens with DCFYI mentors;
- Helped two more DCFYI teens find adoptive homes.
We continued and expanded our program – holding events, recruiting new teen participants and adult volunteers, and matching adults and teens.
We received our first major foundation grant from the Freddie Mac Foundation.
Fair Chance selected DCFYI as a new partner.
Media about DCFYI included:
- Our first article appeared in Huffington Post;
- An opinion piece in The Washington Post;
- A column on "Charities that Inspire Kids" in The New York Times Motherlode.
We honored former DC Mayor (and former foster child) Anthony Williams at our 2014 Establishing Roots fundraiser.
In 2015, we honored NBC4 news anchor and founder and host of Wednesday's Child Barbara Harrison.
Nine DCFYI teens had their adoptions finalized during these years.
Kidsave ends the Weekend Miracles program in Washington DC so a small group creates Family & Youth Initiative that October to continue programming.
We recruit our first Board of Directors and file incorporation papers.
Despite no real funding we continue monthly program events bringing all participating teens and adults with us to the new organization.
Our first full year of operation. We:
- Served 30 teens;
- Held 20 program events;
- Matched 11 teens with mentors;
- Matched 8 teens with host families;
- Helped 12 teens find permanent (adoptive or legal guardianship) families.
- received our 501c(3) non-profit status;
- launched our first website.
All on a budget of about $20,000.