Youth Development

Under One Sky Village Foundation

Renewing the spirt of youth in foster care

aka Under One Sky   |   ASHEVILLE, NC   |  http://www.under1sky.org

Mission

The mission of Under One Sky Village Foundation is to provide youth in foster care with a mentoring community of peers and adults. We help to renew the spirit of these amazing young people with uplifting programs, mentoring opportunities, summer camps and skills workshops.

Ruling year info

2013

Executive Director

Bess Newton

Main address

PO BOX 18526

ASHEVILLE, NC 28814 USA

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EIN

80-0749116

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Foster Care (P32)

Adoption (P31)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The mission of Under One Sky Village Foundation is to provide youth in foster care with a mentoring community of peers and supportive adults. We do this through the transformative power of frequent, camp-based programs, as well as peer and adult mentor gatherings and support groups. Under One Sky Village Foundation provides youth in foster care, ages 7-17, with a continuum of services that encourages emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual growth. Under One Sky helps prepare youth for the next phase of their lives including adoption, new or continued foster placement, aging out of foster care or reunification with birth family. Through self-discovery programming, youth re-discover their innate creative gifts and learn life, social and work skills to help prepare them for a successful transition to adulthood. We strive to be an anchor for youth in foster care. This can be an extremely tumultuous time for young people--a time when their life can change in the blink of an eye.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Journey Experience

Programs designed specifically for young people in foster care, who are ages 11-17. These programs include weekend retreats, summer camps, and mentoring opportunities. Skill-building and self-expression workshops help these amazing young people to discover their true selves.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
Non-adult children

Where we work

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

When a child is in foster care, they are at risk of "moving" an average of seven times. This is not "moving" as most of us are familiar with. When a child in foster care changes homes, they are likely to also change foster families, gain or lose foster or birth siblings, exchange or lose pets, change schools, exchange bedtime routines and eating norms, and leave behind previous friendships with caring adults and peers. This is just a start, and while the foster care system works mightily to reduce such losses, they are still a reality for these most vulnerable and resilient children. Under One Sky Village Foundation provides a community for these children that is "outside the foster care system." Thus, when all of these changes take place, we are still here. We are an anchor and a safe place to have friends, adult mentors and experiences that help children with the coping skills that they desperately need to survive, and even thrive through this rollercoaster of emotions and experiences. We empower vulnerable youth in a way that no other non-profit does for youth in foster care, with our year-round programming and services. Under One Sky Village Foundation serves youth ages 7-17, with regular programs that convene April-October, as well as supportive services in between these renewing experiences. We are also providing supportive services to alumni of Under One Sky, especially those alumni who exit foster care without a family to call their own.

Under One Sky Village Foundation has provided consistent programming to local youth in foster care and shown positive desired results for 15 years. The focus remains on serving youth in foster care with a unique mentoring community, from our camp-based experiences to regular meet-ups during the year when campers reconvene, eager for community and personal sharing of their unique experiences in the foster care system. In recent years, the programs expanded to include the 7-11 age range, as well as growing the programs for the 11-17 age range. The overwhelming positive feedback both from campers and social workers, supports ongoing and sustained need for such experiences for these youth. Leadership positions for camp staff have been hired from within our organization, with 92% retention of camp staff from year to year. Many youth turning 18 years of age are enrolling in our "Camper in Leadership Training" program, with the goal of attaining staff status. We often employ staff who have "grown up" at camp, and this continuity is good for all involved. The Under One Sky Board of Directors is extremely dedicated, and they are generous with sharing their talents and expertise. We are in the process of expanding the board membership and are working especially to extend the geographic diversity. This past year saw the advent of the Board and Staff working together to manage the rental of Sky Lodge, a 23 acre property that includes a large home. This property was given to Under One Sky by a donor who recognized the unique vision and programming in service to this vulnerable population. Sky Lodge has become both a source of ongoing rental income as well as a central meeting point for youth, staff, foster families and social workers in need of both ongoing trauma-based training and retreat. In the upcoming year, an increased focus on fund development activities and expanding year-round programs are included in our strategies. We are re-developing our approach to local Social Service agencies and improving our marketing strategies overall. Under One Sky has been the beneficiary of a WNC Nonprofit Pathways coach who has assisted in fund development capacity-building, as well as a Fund Development consultant, Elizabeth Hunter, from the firm HunterKemper Consulting. Under One Sky is working to implement the research that has been done, as well as embarking upon organizational Strategic Planning this year.

Under One Sky Village Foundation is in the midst of a critical time period. The founding Executive Director, Diane Delafield, retired in the spring of 2018 after 15 years of service and creation of programs for youth in foster care. In May of 2018, Bess Newton took the reins as the new Executive Director and has been working steadily to both understand and transform the organization so that it can serve more youth, and serve more youth more effectively. There has never been a question of the quality of the experience that the youth have had in Under One Sky programs--Diane always made sure that this was preeminent. Programmatically, Under One Sky is operating at a very high level. The information and marketing infrastructure that supports the organization is admittedly in need of assistance. These amazing programs are operating in a silo, without reaching as deeply into the communities that we serve as could be possible. We truly do not have a choice but to invest in capacity building at this time. We need this in order to scale our organization appropriately, so that we can begin to serve the number of youth in foster care that desperately need an avenue such as Under One Sky in their lives. Under One Sky has received two grants from Buncombe County that will begin in July of 2020. These will help us to accomplish our goals of achieving more local community awareness, strategic partnerships and investment in our programs. Regarding our financial review or audit, we have already met with Steve Corliss of Corliss and Solomon, PLLC to begin planning our first financial review for the coming year. This will build towards an audit the following year. This is an important step for us in our capacity building as an organization.

"I wish that my group home was like Under One Sky." --Ashley, age 15 When we receive comments like this, we know that we are on the right track. Our goal is to support Ashley and the youth served by Under One Sky, more often. As youth feel even more connected, we will achieve the following: 1) When youth begin to share deeply with each other and with staff; when they seek and give advice to each other. Often, staff create the safe container in which the youth begins their healing process. 2) When youth begin to make their own, individual choices, such as identifying negative behaviors that they want to overcome or to be the first in their family to graduate high school. We then know that perhaps the youth have "bridged over the trauma" that they have endured. 3) When we observe compassion, as youth reduce bullying behavior towards one other. We anticipate seeing a reduction of defensiveness between youth, replaced by more self-assured behavior.

Our programs are largely based locally in Asheville and Hendersonville, NC and are year-round and designed specifically to meet children in foster care exactly where they are in their life's journey. We serve youth in foster care across North Carolina. When crafting our programs, we ensure that the youth are provided with experiences that are uplifting, nurturing, trauma-based approaches to guiding these young people on their path to adoption, reunification with their birth families or "aging out" of the foster care system. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 virus, we have pivoted quickly and prepared to reach children in new ways, both virtually and in smaller groups by going to the children and families, verses expecting the youth to come to us. When it is again safe to do so, youth will attend programs (we currently lease space at Kanuga in Henderson County and at the Black Mountain Home for Children's West campus/formerly the 4H camp in Swannanoa) for a weekend in the spring, a full week in the summer, and a weekend in the fall. We also provide year-round supportive services for young people so that these vulnerable yet resilient children can have the support of one another, as well as caring adults whom they can count upon throughout the year. We have strategically chosen the setting of camps, because young people both enjoy the natural elements of camp and allow themselves to connect to others more in these environments. Because we are a separate entity as a non-profit, we are able to serve kids who are in group homes, foster homes, kinship placements, and in the custody of multiple counties' Departments of Social Services. We partner closely with the young peoples' social workers and various family dynamics to make certain our programs are tailored to the children's personal needs and goals. Under One Sky Village Foundation is in the unique position of being able to build a bridge between the community and young people in foster care. Our upcoming programs in this critical time include a combination of virtual gatherings and support groups, and small groups of youth, counselors and mentors who participate in meaningful and adventure-based activities with youth in foster care. We plan to continue to build upon these the learning experiences, challenges and opportunities of this time.

Financials

Under One Sky Village Foundation
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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This organization has no recorded board members.

Keywords

foster children, retreats, summer camp, mentoring, art, outdoors