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Professional Development Opportunity For Workforce Serving Youth Launched

Dana Mendes was also appointed as the Deputy Director of the Office of Youth Engagement and Advancement (OYEA).

Today, Mayor Michelle Wu and the Office of Youth Engagement and Advancement (OYEA) announced the launch of the Youth Worker Professional Development Program, a series of free opportunities for people who work in youth-serving organizations to learn new skills about the growing demands associated with serving youth and young adults in Boston. All training opportunities are free and now open for registration on the OYEA website. The first session will be held on October 12, 2023.

“Our workforce that directly serves our young people are critical for delivering engaging, fun and enriching opportunities through mentorship and programming. Continuing to build skills for these workers is critical to best deliver for our youth,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “With the appointment of Dana Mendes as the Deputy Director of the Office of Youth Engagement and Advancement, I’m confident that we will continue to broaden our support systems for all of Boston’s youth.”

The goal of the professional development series is to provide youth workers with bolstered practical skills and knowledge to enhance their effectiveness and success as well as foster more community among Boston’s youth-serving organizations. Youth workers range from youth program managers and coaches to educators, youth librarians and any other similar individuals whose daily work is to provide services, resources, and opportunities to young people. 

“As a former youth worker, I am proud that the City is able to offer this valuable resource to the employees who are working with our young people every day,” said José F. Massó, Chief of Human Services. “These trainings will bring our youth workers together in shared learning environments where they can build a sense of community and common purpose.”

Sessions will begin in October and extend through the end of June, covering multiple topics each month. Youth workers are invited to participate in sessions that will be held in person and online. There is no fee to participate, but registration is required so instructors can plan for the class size. Residents can register for sessions here.

“Youth work is all about partnership and collaboration - none of us can do this alone,” said Pedro J. Cruz, Executive Director of the Office of Youth Engagement and Advancement. “The Professional Development series is part of the City’s commitment to our partners in this work - to making sure they have opportunities for growth, that they are equipped to provide the best care for our young people, and that they feel supported and valued for the work they do.”

The full list of sessions are available on the OYEA website. Sessions include trainings on racial equity, engaging with youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, and approaches to manage youth mental health challenges. In total, over 30 subjects will be covered. All sessions are conducted by trained facilitators from the City or local non-profit organizations. In-person sessions can accommodate up to 35 students and online sessions are capped at 100 participants.

“This new professional development series provides invaluable opportunities for youth workers to learn together and form deeper connections that will create a ripple that strengthens spaces of belonging citywide. Supporting youth workers supports youth and supporting youth allows our whole community to thrive.” said Sandra Soto, Director of Youth Development Programs at IBA Boston

Mayor Michelle Wu also announced the appointment of Dana Mendes as the Deputy Director of the Office of Youth Engagement and Advancement (OYEA). In this role, Mendes will serve as a key member of OYEA’s leadership team and will be the point person for the department’s efforts to develop a resource network for youth and offer professional development opportunities to the City’s youth-serving workforce. Mendes will also help lead strategic planning efforts and support the programming within OYEA.

Mendes most recently served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Homelessness Initiatives in the Mayor’s Office of Human Services. In this role, Mr. Mendes managed the Human Services’ cabinet priorities under the City’s Rise to the Challenge strategy to end youth homelessness. That initiative contributed to a 44 percent reduction in homelessness among youth and lasting improvements to the system.

Mendes holds a Masters degree in Social Work from Simmons College and is a proud graduate of the Boston Public Schools. With a career spanning multiple disciplines, including grassroots organizing, program management, event planning and coordination, youth empowerment work, housing, and clinical social work and counseling, Mendes brings a varied array of experiences as well as a deep commitment to social justice to the role.

“I am thrilled to take on this new opportunity with the dynamic team at the Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement and Advancement,” said Dana Mendes, Deputy Director of OYEA. “I look forward to building a stronger network of youth organizations, developing resources for youth workers in the City and supporting our team to fulfill their mission of meaningful youth engagement.”

Outside of his position, Mendes is an adjunct professor at Kentucky State University where he teaches about cultural inclusion and social justice to undergraduates. He currently resides in South Boston, but has lived in nearly every neighborhood in the City.

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