Kids at YWCA are engaging in after school programs.

January 21, 2015

Meet Lorraine, a 14-year-old living with her family at the YWCA Sara McKnight Transitional Living Center (TLC), where more than 200 families just like her are staying.

Since 2013, Lorraine has been attending Bassett Middle School where she is now in 8th grade and excelling academically and participating in out-of-school activities. Her out-of-school activities was recently made possible through a grant from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s IGNITE initiative.

While the TLC provides children with transportation to and from school, it doesn’t allow for children to participate in any out-of-school activities due to the fact that there is no transportation provided after school to get back to the TLC.

With funding of $128,489 over 18 months through the Foundation’s IGNITE initiative, the YWCA created the YWCA’s Winning Youth program for TLC. This program provides a child and youth advocate on staff to help disconnected children and youth engage in activities that support positive health outcomes. It also provides transportation for children and youth at TLC to participate in out-of-school activities. With the support of this program, Lorraine is participating in the gifted and talented program and school track team at Bassett.

The Foundation’s IGNITE initiative is designed to help organizations look for ways to engage disconnected youth. The Foundation defines “disconnected youth” as those age 7 to18 who are not involved in out-of-school activities or working. Currently there are 12 IGNITE grantees: four in Juárez, two in New Mexico, and six in El Paso.

“We know that if youth are engaged in out-of-school programs, they will have better health outcomes,” says Bianca Aguilar, associate program officer with the Paso del Norte Health Foundation. “The Winning Youth program at TLC is helping children engage in activities who are disconnected.”

Since initial funding, the TLC has helped 90 disconnected youth engage in activities throughout the community and have seen a positive shift in their communication skills.

“This initiative has been a tremendous game-changer for the TLC,” says Kathy Cox, administrator of the Sara McKnight Transitional Living Center. “We are working with our youth on structured programming particularly focused on helping youth that had survived domestic violence.”

Ask her the importance of the Foundation’s IGNITE grant, and you hear this: “The possibility of being able to develop a youth program and realize the impact it could have had on a homeless shelter such as ours would have been remote without this investment.

“The ‘seed’ money invested in youth experiencing homelessness will pay dividends. Scholastic scores, leadership skills, and confidence to pursue a successful future translate into the well-being of not only the youth involved, but the family unit as well.

“Thank you Paso del Norte Health Foundation for believing in the youth of this region, including those experiencing homelessness.”


• Winning Youth IGNITE program is funded to engage youth at the TLC in out-of-school activities. • Winning Youth IGNITE recruits all disconnected youth ages 7 to 18 who are residing at the TLC. • PdNHF awarded the TLC $128,489 in October 2013 to launch and support the program through March 2015. • TLC’s goal is to engage 85 percent of its youth in out-of-school activities. • TLC uses the Homeless Management Information System and detailed case management files to track the out-of-school involvement, scholastic performance and health of each participant. For more information, contact Bianca Aguilar at 915-544-7636 or

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