LUK Inc. receives $12K in funding
Nonprofit to use grant to help runaway youths
By Anna Burgess
FITCHBURG — LUK Inc. will ramp up efforts to help runaway and homeless youth this year with $12,000 of funding from the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts.
LUK, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the health and wellness of youth and families, received the $12,000 grant last week from the Community Foundation.
Grant money will be used by LUK to solidify a network of homeless youth service providers and make sure they are as effective as they can be in helping homeless and runaway youth populations. They want to streamline the process of helping these youth, said Cindy Delaney, LUK’s public relations specialist.
“It’s really important that we work toward getting the youth the help they need to live healthy, productive and safe lives, despite difficult circumstances,” Delaney said. “The goal of the grant is increasing community awareness (of youth homelessness), increasing capacity of providers, and increasing the efficacy and knowledge of people working with these youth.”
One of LUK’s main goals with the grant is to bring several providers together and create a coalition to address youth homelessness.
“Our partners are going to be providers that already work with these youth,” Delaney said, though they don’t yet know which providers specifically. “By giving them extra training, and improving the skills of the providers, they’re going to have an ability to give better referrals to get youth better access to the services they need.”
The organization will also educate various providers about some of the issues facing runaway and homeless youth, and train them in best practices to deal with these issues.
Some issues, Delaney said, are “wait lists for services, barriers with transportation, especially in more rural areas, and a general lack of knowledge of where to go for help.”
Training and education, which Delaney said will likely begin in the fall, goes hand in hand with the creation of a more cohesive network. In addition to addressing issues faced by homeless youth, LUK will educate providers about one another and help them build relationships with each other.
“This is trying to help bring these people together so everybody is on the same page,” Delaney said. “It seems like the best outcome would be to get the communication going cross-ways. It’s like when you go to your doctor and they say, ‘you need to see an eye doctor, here are some that accept your insurance.’” The grant will fund the project for 12 months, Delaney said, with training throughout the year and extra activities in November for National Homeless Youth Awareness month.
“We’re hoping this is a really good step toward ending youth homelessness, but that’s obviously a long process,” she said. “I think by bringing providers together and giving the education and giving the access, we’re really going to be helping these youth get to a better place, get to somewhere stable.”