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Border Youth Resiliency Project

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $930,000)

El Paso, Texas is a persistent-poverty city on the far West tip of Texas, sharing the Rio Grande and an economy with sister city, Juarez, Mexico. Historically notorious for its proximity to cartel wars, public slaughter at social gatherings, and mass graves of raped and murdered women in Juarez, El Paso tragically gained additional fame in late 2019 due to the terroristic attack/hate crime that left 23 dead and 22 wounded at a Walmart store that looks across the border into Mexico. Compounding the shared experience of violence and ethnic hatred is the lived misery inside homes where stressors of economic strain and isolation of COVID-19 has caused massive spikes in domestic violence and child abuse.  This project targets school-age youth exposed to violence (and their families) in El Paso County, 28.9% of whom live in poverty.

The goals of the project are to build the capacity of families and service providers to help children exposed to violence.  Project objectives include: 1) Enhance and develop targeted supportive services for children exposed to violence; 2) Develop community-based violence prevention and intervention approaches that address risk factors and build on protective factors to reduce juvenile delinquency and crime; 3) Provide direct, person-to-person outreach strategies to increase awareness and 4) Build the capacity of families and communities to help children exposed to violence.

Deliverables include: 1) Maintain consistent communication among multidisciplinary team of stakeholders to build capacity to respond to families and youth exposed to violence; 2) Provide trauma-informed evidence-based counseling and/or psychoeducational skill-building services to approximately 300 youth exposed to violence; 3) Provide evidence-based mentoring services for approximately 100 youth (some of whom may also receive counseling services); and 4) Provide family engagement activities and/or training on protective factors (through Parent Cafés) to approximately 200 participants.  Activities/Strategies include: 1) Incorporating EBPs – Counseling with TF-CBT, WhyTry Psychoeducational Curriculum; 2) Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring and 3) Be Strong Families Parent Cafés.

The proposed changes are the following:

Increase the current Family Support Specialist' salary to $20 p/h to increase retention and align with similar positions within the agency.

Increase the current Counselor’s salary to $31 p/h to increase retention and align with similar positions within the agency.  

The El Paso Center for Children would also like to add a new FTE Family Support Specialist to assist with providing psychoeducation skills to youth. The project has received a great amount of referrals and there has been a waitlist to provide intakes as there are only 2 FTE on this project. This additional position will provide opportunity for families to be seen sooner. In addition, this additional position would also provide support to the current staff on this project. Most importantly this new position will help make strong efforts towards meeting the project's outcomes and outputs. 

The project has seen an increase with gang violence in the El Paso community and with the youth receiving services under this project. There is an online training that would benefit the team.  The cost of this online training is $1,500. Attached is the flyer for the Begin with Peace: Trauma Informed Gang Prevention and Intervention Training. 

The project's subcontractor, Big Brother Big Sisters of El Paso (BBBSEP) has proposed the following innovations: 

         Group Mentoring 

BBBSEP proposes the option to include Group Mentoring (BIG Group Mentoring) to the Border Youth Resiliency Project in an effort to achieve the project outcomes and goals and expand services to youth in the program. Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Paso has launched a new group mentoring program where volunteers work with youth in a group mentoring setting. While traditionally a Big will meet with one specific child during their volunteer service, this new program allows volunteers to mentor 4 to 8 children. Sessions are moderated by a BBBSEP Program Specialist. This new opportunity will allow BBBSEP to increase the number of youth served for this project while still maintaining a structured, but fun setting. The volunteers and youth will meet twice a month. Youth will be placed in a group setting based on a variety of factors including age, interest, gender, available mentor, etc. Ongoing support and supervision will be provided by the Program Specialist for both the Littles and the Bigs. The diversity of people, discussion topics and activities that comprised these groups make them an amazing learning experience for everyone involved and a powerful new platform for supporting youth academically while also putting a special focus on social, emotional skills and character building.   BBBSEP will recruit volunteer mentors (Bigs) and adhere to the rigorous national best practice in screening and processing of the mentors, including the one-year commitment, interviews with trained staff members, criminal background checks, references, training, etc.  BBBSEP will recruit 2-6 volunteers to serve as mentors to small groups of  4-8 youth (exposed to violence) and deliver the Why Try curriculum’s 10 units.  A BBBSEP staff member will work with the mentors to facilitate the group mentoring services and administer the Why Try curriculum twice a month.  BBBSEP currently has 29 eligible youth enrolled in the program waiting for mentoring services.  As additional youth are enrolled, they will be considered for the group mentoring option. The proposed group mentoring will provide youth the opportunity to participate in mentoring services and receive the evidenced-based Why Try curriculum.   This Group Mentoring may be considered as an option when matching mentors; it's not currently being implemented but wanted to be included as possible strategy to increase matches. 

The High School Bigs program is also a new strategy that BBBBEP has developed to match mentors to youth in the school settings.

Date Created: November 2, 2021