The Phoenix Project Of Marin - A Community Connections Center

Executive Summary

Marin City has grown in its history from a white-and-black work camp building ships for the Navy in WWII to a neighborhood for blacks not able to purchase homes elsewhere in Marin to affordable Public Housing (and rise of drug problems) to its status now as a multi-racial and newly desirable enclave of appreciating property values and good home buys in a bucolic southern Marin County setting. Yet, Marin City remains on a roller coaster of outbursts of violent and petty crime among some of its youth. This history is tied to long-term drug trafficking (passed down from a select group of men to boys), a breakdown of family structure, Marin City’s lack of incorporation, and poor prospects in today’s historic down economy. 2009 has seen a rise in crime (as compared to the past 4 years) among some Marin City youth while the community as a whole has experienced a forward progression to neighborhood normalcy and brighter prospects.

The leaders and community of Marin City, along with two prominent nonprofits that have long served Marin City, have recognized that at-risk youth in the neighborhood immediately need focused, knowledgeable and consistent attention. That if some kind of caring, goal-oriented intervention is not taken now, the situation would simply become worse and could spread to more youth in Marin City.

Out of this conclusion, a new nonprofit has been founded to be a physical presence in the community and to specifically create and coordinate the programs that would most effectively work with at-risk youth in Marin City. This nonprofit is named The Phoenix Project of Marin—A Community Connections Center. It is estimated that there are presently 40 boys and men (ages 13-25) who are the core of this at-risk group—many of whom are on already on probation. From this core, more young people could be swept into the magnetism of anti-social behavior in bad economic times.

Two nonprofits with a wide range of talent and a scorecard of successes in Marin County outreach programs have combined to found The Phoenix Project. The first is the nineteen-year old Performing Stars of Marin, which offers a raft of innovative programs to help lesser-privileged children and youth gain guidance, experience and opportunity. The second foundation nonprofit is the Marin Housing Authority, an 80-year old institution with abundant experience and skills in managing the administration of such an innovative undertaking as The Phoenix Project.

Recognizing that Marin City’s troubled youth really need a physical center that is dedicated to working with them personally, The Phoenix Project is setting up offices right near the most troubled area of Marin City—the Public Housing. The PP community center will be located near the 200 Lot of Drake Avenue in Marin City.

One of the Phoenix Project community center’s first objectives will be a get-to-know-you assessing approach for the at-risk youth and an awareness campaign for the whole community on the goals of the Phoenix Project. The needs of each of the at-risk group will be personally explored with the individual and their family. This would include examining: insufficient parental support, low expectations, few opportunities, poor education and low GAP/Achievement Test scores, high unemployment, lack of self-care, participation in high-risk activities, probation issues and many more areas of concern.

Principally, the Phoenix Project’s community center and its adjunct outreach programs will be working to bring at-risk youth into youth-centric programs and services that are proven as successful in addressing quality of life, directing impulses away from crime and creating a pragmatic and psychologically positive future direction. For instance, the PPCC has already enrolled a number of youth in the Conservation Corps North Bay for this summer. Among the PP community goals are: reduce crime, reduce eviction, achieve GED attainment and job skill attainment, improve grades, provide technical knowledge opportunities, cultivate job placement, advise on health improvements and much more.

To further cultivate movement towards real change, the PP community center will have an ongoing program of rewards and incentives for good, genuine effort and success. The Phoenix Project community center will also coordinate with other programs seeking to help low-income young girls and boys.

Accountability and assessment for the viability of the Phoenix Project’s programs will be rigorous—with deep periodic review of the project’s progress.

The Phoenix Project of Marin is expected to serve from six months to two years, depending on funding and on the viability of the multiple programs being run.

To date, the partners of the Phoenix Project of Marin include: Project Impact (San Rafael, CA); Marin County Probation Department (San Rafael, CA); Marin County Sheriffs Department, Marin County Public Defender’s Office (San Rafael, CA); California Mentor Foundation (Tiburon, CA); The Senior Sunshine Club (Marin City, CA); local residents (Marin City, CA).

Other partners are being cultivated now, and are showing serious interest and commitment.

The cost for the first year of the PP community center is budgeted at $162,000 (excluding in-kind services). The Phoenix Project of Marin—a Community Connections Center is now seeking investment to meet its first year budget, and is excited about and looking forward to partnering with the Marin County Board of Supervisors and the Marin Community Foundation.

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