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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


October 20, 2001 - Issue 47


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 Benefit Concert

Project OffStreets was developed in the mid-1980's as street outreach workers recognized that a significant number of young people were homeless and using survival sex as a means of meeting their basic needs for food, shelter and clothing.

YouthLink's solution to this problem was to create a safe place away from the streets - Project OffStreets.

On November 5, several well known entertainers will gather for the second annual benefit concert for Project Offstreets. We hope to see you there!


Visit the sites of some of the artists that will be here:

Keith Secola

Annie Humphrey

Jim Boyd

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What programs are offered by Project Offstreets?

Basic Needs Drop-in
Youth may receive the basic needs of food, clothing, referral for shelter, and crisis counseling during drop-in hours (3 to 8 p.m.) six days a week (Thursday through Tuesday). Youth need not be "Case Management" clients to receive these services, but must be homeless or living in unstable living situations (e.g., couch hopping with friends, living with an exploitive adult, exchanging sex for basic needs, etc.).

Case Management
All youth who are eligible for Project OffStreets drop-in services are also eligible for Case Management. CM refers to many, many things including (but not limited to) the following: developing an individualized service plan with the young person, advocacy, making referrals, helping the youth navigate "the system", assisting with achieving goals, providing informal counseling, mediating with family members, helping ensure basic needs are met, facilitating a young person's ability to explore difficult issues, etc.

Family Reunification Program
This program works primarily with the families of 12 to 15 year olds who are chronic runaways and for whom reunification with parent or family member is the primary goal. When there is no appropriate family member available, the case manager facilitates placement with a responsible adult or formal out of home placement through County resources.

Transitional Living Program
The TLP is a collaborative with Freeport West, Inc. Homeless youth participate in an intensive transitional living program to prepare them for independence. Expectations and services include support to obtain and maintain stable housing in scattered site apartments, completion of high school, entering college or vocational training, employment, and independent living skills training. The program has been federally funded through the Dept. of Health and Human Services since 1991 and in 1995 received an additional three-year grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development that greatly expanded services to homeless youth.

HIV/STD Prevention Program
Professional staff and peer educators provide information, access, and options for responsible decisions regarding sexual behavior. The goal is to prevent HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and other health issues which homeless youth are particularly vulnerable to because of their street life and behaviors. Staff do street outreach and peer educators work with youth in the community as well as at Project OffStreets.

GLBT Case Management & OUT!Group
Special outreach, case management, support groups and recreational services for GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) youth who are homeless or runaways. The exceptionally high rate of violence, drug abuse and self-harm, the disproportionate number of homeless youth who are GLBT, and the limited resources for these youth precipitated development of specialized services funded by the State of Minnesota. Staff provides intensive case management for clients of Project OffStreets.

Teen Parent Program
Project OffStreets offers comprehensive services to teen mothers including monitoring of personal and child health, case management, parenting education, housing, personal growth, pre-and postnatal care, and child development. Of the nearly 100 young women who have participated over the past six years, only 2 are known to have had a second child.

Group Residential Housing
This program provides resources for housing and basic needs to young adults (age 18 and up) who have needs around the following issues: HIV, Mental Health, and Chemical Dependency. Project OffStreets provides intense case management and assistance with referrals, along with home visits and a variety of other services to these young adults.

Drug Abuse Prevention
Drug use is common among homeless and sexually exploited teens. They use drugs to anesthetize the pain of their experiences. Trained staff does preliminary assessment, facilitate the young person’s access to treatment, and offer support during aftercare.

Mental Health Program
Many homeless young people have serious emotional problems, need medication, and have serious difficulty functioning with little/no support. An individual case manager identifies mental health issues, helps youth access the system, and advocates for medical and mental health care when necessary. Special housing allowances are available for a select few through a new grant from Hennepin County in mid-1996.

Project OffStreets partners with nine other community agencies to offer coordinated street outreach services to homeless youth. Project OffStreets employs 1 FTE (two staff) to conduct street outreach during late night hours where youth hang out. Other staff also do outreach as part of their basic job responsibilities. Street outreach offers a visible helping adult presence on the streets as an alternative to exploitive adults. Workers carry food and shelter vouchers, electronic resource listings, and safe sex supplies in their green backpacks.

Is an educational support group for teen girls who have been used in prostitution, pornography, dancing, posing and stripping. Each week the young women and the co-facilitators meet in a safe place to talk and meet others who have been through the same situations. The philosophy of this program is "everyone has a right to a life without violence and a right to her own body". teenPride is a collaborative project with Family and Children’s Service.

Kulture Klub
An activity group focusing on the arts and creative self-expression. Activities include attendance at arts events and the creation of art and artistic expression. The group has presented two performances at the Southern Theater and does periodic "open mic’s" at the OffStreets drop-in center. This is one of the most popular programs at Project OffStreets.

Listen Group
This is a weekly support group for young males involved in the sex industry (eg. prostitution, dancing, pornography, escorts, dancing, etc.).

Health and Wellness Clinic for Youth
The clinic is staffed by a Nurse Practitioner and physicians in training for 10 hours each week. Young people drop-in on a first come first served basis or by appointment for traditional and alternative health care or health education. Many OffStreets clients need medical assistance with infectious diseases, upper respiratory disease, asthma, pregnancy, and STD’s. The clinic refers to community clinics for ongoing health care and acute health needs.

Young persons are encouraged to complete their high school education. Youth work at their own pace and are able to receive 1:1 assistance in either returning to school or preparing for their GED. This school, which is an area learning center, is located in Project OffStreets’ drop-in center where youth can work towards completion of requirements for their Graduate Equivalency Degree (GED), or to complete credits for their High School Diploma. The school is staffed by teachers from Minneapolis public schools and volunteer tutors from the community. Each year between 10 and 30 youth graduate from Project OffStreets' School.

Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Host Home Program
Through this innovative shelter/mentorship program, members of the GLBT community and allies open their homes to GLBT youth ages 16-21 who work toward stabilization through case management, education and employment. Youth can be referred by any youth serving agency and adult hosts are carefully screened, trained and supported by YouthLink.

Transition Program
Project OffStreets provides targeted services for those individuals who are "aging out" of the drop-in's services. This program helps young people with referrals to adult services, assistance with independent living, and overall transition away from Project OffStreets. This is often a difficult transition because the young people build strong, important relationships with paid staff, volunteers and other youth at OffStreets. As part of this program there is a "graduation" ceremony to help formalize this passage.

General Assistance for Minors
Project OffStreets is an access point for Hennepin County youth who qualify for Government Assistance program. These clients work towards completing their education while keeping working with their case manager who monitors progress towards independence.

Youth Living Success
Youth who are preparing to move or have recently moved into their own apartments participate in this independent living skills program. Young people receive a skills assessment so their training program may be customized to meet their needs. This program is housed a home-like mini-apartment.


To learn more about Youth Link and it's many programs visit:

Youth Link

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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