THE CONNECTOR. Mark Putnam is executive director of the YMCA’s Accelerator Y program.
Gold Award: YMCA of Greater Seattle
Robert Gilbertson, president/CEO
Accelerator YMCA is the social services branch of the YMCA of Greater Seattle, specifically serving young people (more than 7,000 each year) who have been affected by encounters with homelessness, foster care and juvenile justice. The Y is also the largest provider of housing for homeless young adults in King County, providing 250 beds on any given night.
Accelerator YMCA’s programs and services help young people transition into adulthood and become self-sufficient, and include housing, education, employment, violence prevention, mental health, and foster children and alumni support. The Y is the contracted agency in King County to provide case management and life skills — such as budgeting and grocery shopping — to young people aging out of foster care.
“We have a broad range of programs,” says Mark Putnam, executive director of Accelerator Y. “Maybe we started working with you on violence prevention, but you need a job, and you need housing, or you need some connections to an employer. We try to connect youth to our programs. But we also acknowledge that we’re one program, and there’s a lot of different opportunities within King County. So we try to resource those community partners that we have, whether it’s WorkSource to connect to jobs or it’s another housing provider, or even some of the other Ys around Washington state. We try to be a resource in both the short term and long term for our young people.”
SILVER AWARD: Boys & Girls Clubs of King County
Lisa Chin, president/CEO
Boys & Girls Clubs of King County provides vital development programs that address the diverse needs of youth ages 3 to 18. Through its 29 youth-development centers, the organization engages more than 26,000 kids and teens annually with programs centering around academic success, healthy lifestyles, and good character and citizenship. The clubs offer experiential learning, supportive adults and mentors, access to healthy meals and snacks, as well as opportunities to connect with peers, participate in sports, engage with community service and learn new skills.