Better Know a Network: Voyage

Voyage (formerly the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Prevention of Youth Violence) was formed in 2008 by a collection of elected officials and community leaders. The mayor of Wilmington, the district attorney, the superintendent of schools, local faith-based community leaders, and the head of United Way partnered together in response to a community call to address the rise of community crime and gang activity in 2007-2008. These players felt the need to form a collective effort to focus on serving the area known as the Youth Enrichment Zone. Though the landscape has changed quite a bit over the years, Voyage shifted its focus towards education while continuing to serve the Youth Enrichment Zone, reopening the middle school in the area after its shutdown in 2012. Today, Voyage works towards its mission to address poverty in the community through programmatic efforts to address youth violence reduction, positive social development, and positive youth development activities.

Voyage’s programmatic efforts in schools have shown many positive results. Over the past
number of years, they have focused on community school interventions. Community schools
focus on a holistic approach to address children’s needs by providing more services than
traditionally provided by the school district, blending Voyage’s focus on economic mobility,
basic needs, and educational outcomes. Motivated by the positive results of community school interventions, Voyage’s and its partners are consistently expanding community school services throughout the region to ensure access and sustained success. This ambitious project has led Voyage to reassess the implementation of its programs in the most effective way to create a meaningful impact amidst changing systems and environments.

Voyage partners continue to deliver their services in schools, focusing on aligning their
priorities with new trajectories. Despite school staff turnover and changes at the building level, all of which affect how the programs are implemented. The partners continue to coordinate and work together to create an impact. The network still brings together its community school experiences and partners to share data and engage in conversations regarding best practices and future goals.

As a result, there has been a resurgence in the partnership’s commitment to focus on
attendance and chronic absenteeism. Within the past year, partners have implemented new
district and programmatic level interventions to concentrate on addressing these issues in the
community. These interventions reflect the shift in focus towards attendance, not just for school, but also for afterschool programs and summer learning programs that will lead to increased reading scores, as well as preparing children for middle school and high school.

In reassessing their goals for the future within the changing educational landscape of the
community, Voyage hopes to continue to push for increased attendance. Furthermore, they
hope to continue to implement structures to support family and community engagement. With
the recent implementation of community schools and other comprehensive programs, Voyage plans to work more closely with the district, city, and all of its stakeholders to share data and align its efforts to continue to make an impact in the community effectively.