JOVEN on Funding Quest
Published: October 30, 2006aa

After more than 20 years, James Parsons says his original mission to help children is finally being realized.

As the new CEO of Juvenile Outreach Vocational Educational Network (JOVEN), Parsons says he hopes to help children overcome obstacles in their young years and become productive members of society.

“I feel very strongly that in order to fend off problems that develop in a child’s life you have to get the children when they’re young … so that they start making better decisions and develop a sense of principles and pride,” Parsons says. “It’s simply a matter of what’s in the best interest of the children we serve.”

In that endeavor, Parsons says he wants to better serve and increase the number of the children the nonprofit serves.

Each year, JOVEN’s staff of 60 and a host of volunteers serve an average of 10,000 children.

Parsons says he’d like to double this number, while at the same time increasing revenue and volunteer numbers.

But he says he wants to do this without growing or expanding too quickly.

“I want to go for what I consider measured growth, rather than exponential growth. I’m interested in growing the organization, but at a rate that everybody can accomplish their goal,” Parsons says. “Initially, once we stabilize things, I think it would be reasonable to double our service to the population as well as our budget.

“And after that, we can grow at a similar clip,” he adds.

Affecting lives

The organization provides services in four general areas: 1) health education in abstinence and pregnancy prevention; 2) prevention programs to help youths avoid drug use, school failure and violence with activities such as sports and arts and crafts; 3) intervention, to help troubled teens with counseling and other services; and 4) victims of crime services for children who have been subject to physical, mental, emotional or sexual abuse.

These services are supported by 12 different federal, state and city grants totaling $2.3 million covering those four areas.