Grant Allows FSW to Encourage Youth in Programs Serving Two Distinct Audiences

Family Services of Westchester (FSW) has received a grant that will encourage engagement and collaboration among youth from two distinct programs within its department of Youth Services – FSW Youth Council and FSW Youth Forum – that focus on very different missions. 

FSW, which provides a broad range of innovative social and mental health services to children, teens, adults and the elderly throughout the county, received a $20,000 grant for 2024 from the Westchester Community Foundation, a division of The New York Community Trust. 

The Youth Councils program empowers youth ages 10 – 18 to lead and participate in community service projects they feel strongly about, such as education, the environment, social justice and mental health by teaching them to use their voice. It strives to foster self-confidence and empower young people to make a difference in their community, address the injustices around them, tap into their political leaders and cultivate leadership and advocacy skills so they can become changemakers in their community.  

The Youth Forum program supports young people who have had difficult life experiences, received or currently receive mental health services, or have experiences in out-of-home placements such as foster care or residential programs. These youth are able to become self-sufficient and develop the skills to successfully transition to independent living. 

“While the Youth Forum participants have endured emotional and complex living situations, they have the potential to change their community given supportive tools and guidance,” said Patrick Schelle, MSW, Director of Youth Programs at FSW. “We look forward to exposing them to advocacy, positive community engagement and opportunities to use their voice to facilitate positive change, at the same time exposing our Youth Council members to the experiences and viewpoints of those in our Youth Forum. It will allow them to learn from each other and bring their different perspectives to the table.”  

 According to “J,” a member of Youth Forum, “This program has really helped me learn a lot, even though I am one of the youngest members. I feel that it is preparing me for what I will need as I get older. Also, not only do we work on these important topics of independence but we get to socialize and have fun too!”