(Press release from Partners for Youth Opportunities)
Carlton Koonce, the current Teen Mentoring Coordinator at the Durham VOICE community newspaper, will be the new Internship and Mentor Coordinator at Partners for Youth Opportunity (PYO).
PYO is a youth organization being formed by the merger of YO:Durham (Year of Opportunity for Durham Teens) and Partners for Youth. Koonce will be taking over the role currently filled by Eric Olson-Getty, who will be moving to Virginia in May, following his wife’s acceptance of a job offer.
“While I am sad to be leaving, I rest easy knowing that the program components we have built for the past several years will be in the capable hands of someone who knows our program well and has an excellent rapport with youth,” says Olson-Getty, who has worked with YO:Durham since 2008. Koonce’s role at the Durham VOICE has included the supervision of several YO:Durham interns over the past three years.
“It is with great pride and satisfaction that I have watched this remarkable young man grow into a seasoned professional” says Jock Lauterer, a UNC journalism senior lecturer, founder and co-publisher of The VOICE. “Over the past three years he has served with distinction as our Teen Mentoring Coordinator. As Koonce transitions to his new duties at PYO, I don’t feel as if The VOICE is losing his services – rather that we are gaining a new and stronger partner in PYO.”
Koonce will oversee the recruitment, training, and support of PYO’s volunteer mentors and paid internship sites.
Julie Wells, who will be the Executive Director of Partners for Youth Opportunity after leading Partners for Youth for two years, says that she is excited to work with Koonce. “He brings valuable experience to our team, and because of his previous partnership with YO:Durham he offers the continuity we need to successfully merge our two programs.”
The mission of Partners for Youth Opportunity is to partner with the community to provide Durham youth with opportunities to connect, develop, and contribute through mentoring, employment, and educational support. The organization brings together YO:Durham, a youth workforce development and mentoring program, and Partners for Youth, a program that provides mentoring and academic support to youth in Durham’s West End.
“The initial rationale for the merger arose out of our realization of the importance of developing deeper, more collaborative relationships among programs that offer similar services,” says Wells. “We felt that, rather than continuing to duplicate our efforts, we could more effectively reach Durham youth, develop partnerships with community stakeholders, and recruit volunteers if we combined them.”
PYO will continue offering a Summer Career Academy, community-based mentoring, academic support, and paid internship placements on a year-round basis. This means that students who have benefited from YO:Durham’s workforce development focus will also receive more intensive academic support and mentoring, and students in Partners for Youth will benefit from the more in-depth workforce readiness programming that YO:Durham brings to the table.
“As a result the combined organization will be more versatile as we offer a broader array of services, enabling us to make smarter, more targeted interventions in the lives of more students,” says Wells.