Operation New Hope offers programing to transform lives of at-risk youth in San Bernardino County

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Photo ONH: The organization’s Youth Reinvestment Grant graduates posing for a photo after completing the multifaceted pathway program with the goal of finding longterm success in life.
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In April 2021, Congressman Pete Aguilar announced $145,000 in federal grant funding to Operation New Hope, a non-profit in San Bernardino that specializes in connecting at-risk and underserved youth with social services to succeed in life.

The organization, which services well over 600 youth per year, will now have the ability to strengthen its current programming and continue the rollout of its latest initiative undertaking Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which fosters leadership, partnerships, prevention and accountability.

“PSN is a nationwide initiative that brings together a coalition of federal, state, and local community leaders, prosecutors and law enforcement officials to find solutions to the most pressing crimes in the most violent areas of the county. One component of the PSN programming that makes it effective for our communities is that it’s coming from a place of prevention and intervention, opposed to targeting already gang-infested areas,” said Operation New Hope CEO Russell Degnan.

The program is targeting high-risk youth between the ages of 15-24 years old who have high absences in school, are identified as a truant, and/or previous problems with the law.

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“We have many agencies that we’ve partnered with countywide and we currently have a small cohort of youth in the program. But, in the next few months we will be fully ramped up to accept referrals from anyone in the county,” continued Degnan.

He shared that in the coming months if a resident in the county wants to recommend a family member to the program who falls under the specified age group, they can do so or even drop in for information.

One of the organization’s other programs currently in place is its Youth Opportunity Center.

“The Youth Opportunity Center brings together an evidence-based curriculum with social services through multiple agencies for the greater benefit of at-risk youth in the county. The process is fairly simple…first, we sit down with potential students to explain the program, which is followed by an application and an intake survey,” said Summerly Sanchez, Operation New Hope case manager.

One of the organization’s greatest strengths is it’s structured as a drop-in center, where all youth have the ability to visit, hang out, get a feel for the center before committing to a program or service.

From job fairs, food distributions to its transformative social services for youth in the county, the organization as a whole is looking forward to making an impact in the lives of at-risk youth now and in the future.

“Economic opportunity is the key to making sure our young people can live safe and productive lives as members of our community. I’ll continue working to secure federal funding for these types of initiatives to make sure young people in San Bernardino and across the Inland Empire have the resources they need to succeed,” said Aguilar. To learn more, visit onhcares.org

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