Graduation is a Big Deal!

2020 has been a tough year for graduating seniors. Social distancing and closed schools have eliminated many traditions, many important rites of passage were cancelled. The youth in our programs face challenges daily that most people their age don’t have to think about. Homelessness, the justice system, and lack of family support make missing prom relatively insignificant. Yet for these kids, graduation is the necessary step toward overcoming those obstacles. We are proud of our graduates for their perseverance and hard work, and we celebrate their accomplishments.

This year we are celebrating graduates like Danitza, who is the first in her family to graduate from high school and she will be the first to attend college this fall at Portland State University. Danitza is in our Latinx Mentoring Program of Big Brothers Big Sisters, a collaboration with the Central Oregon Latino Partnership Program and Oregon Community Foundation. This year, 100% of the ‘Littles’ who are high school seniors are graduating!

Four youth who made the LOFT at Cascade Youth & Family Center their home, graduated this year. This is a great accomplishment for kids struggling with homelessness. Statistics tell us that kids on the street are far less likely to complete high school than their peers living at home or in shelter. A safe and stable place to live provides kids the support they need to be successful in completing their education.

Five graduates whose first home was Grandma’s House as babies, are completing high school this year! One of those babies, Annalea, managed to maintain a 4.0+ while taking enough college level and AP classes to start college this fall as a junior. She plans to study molecular biology and attend medical school after she graduates college in two years. Annaleas’ goal is to be a pediatrician, she wants to help babies have the best possible start. Annalea will be attending college at the same time her mother, Dulce, is returning to complete her Master’s degree.

We are also proud of Lauren, a former Grandma’s House mom who is graduating as a Technician from a Phlebotomy training program. She was able to attend with financial support from the J Bar J Scholarship Program. She not only finished, she completed her program at the top of her class!

At the J Bar J Boys Ranch, seven youth graduated mid-June. These boys come through the juvenile justice system and often arrive academically below grade level.  They have made poor choices which have led them here. By learning how thoughts and beliefs influence their choices they reorganize behavior and re-engage in education. These boys work hard to catch up and make high school graduation a reality. We are proud of them!

One of these young men has experienced extensive hardship in life: homelessness, addiction within his family, and his own addiction. He has struggled in a number of other programs and has been lodged in detention and the youth correctional facilities several times. Prior to coming to J Bar J, he had been unable to maintain sobriety and stay in programs long enough to make progress in high school and was worried that he would not be able to earn his GED. In just under two months with us, he was not only able to successfully complete all of the GED tests, he also earned scores high enough to earn proficiency credits through the Bend La Pine School District. On June 10th he graduated with both his GED and his Oregon High School Diploma!

Graduation is a milestone and rite of passage for all kids, much more so for the kids who didn’t think it was possible.  As they work to overcome obstacles, develop a success plan and commit themselves to work toward the goals they’ve set, we salute them!

These kids have accomplished something big in spite of odds, let’s be proud of them!


Duck Race Tickets Coming Soon!

J Bar J Boy’s Ranch Vocational Program is once again a recipient in the Rotary Duck Race! We are excited and honored to be chosen again. With COVID-19 distancing, all ticket sales will be online, and the race itself will be virtual. Please check back for a link on our website to buy your Duck Race 2020 tickets!


Oregon High Desert Classics Cancelled –
Help us Bridge the Gap

The Oregon High Desert Classics, Central Oregon’s premier hunter-jumper show and J Bar J Youth Services’ largest fundraiser of the year, is cancelled for July. We had been working on plans for months, in coordination with US Equestrian Federation, Deschutes County, and the State of Oregon, to keep staff and participants safe. We were able to address numerous safety concerns and had the space to allow for 6’ social distancing on the 40 acre J Bar J Boys Ranch.

The hope was to hold the competition without spectators, allowing only staff and riders on the grounds. The guidance laid out in the state’s phase 2 COVID-19 opening restrictions however, allow only 250 people at an event, regardless of the space available. This has made plans unworkable, and pushed us into the difficult decision to cancel this year’s events.

This is the second of our three annual events J Bar J Youth Services will have cancelled, and by far the largest. Bowl for Kids’ Sake was also cancelled in May, a primary fundraiser for J Bar J’s Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon program. It is still unknown if we will be able to hold Comedy for Kids’ Sake in the fall. We are looking for help from sponsors and the community to bridge those losses.

The Oregon High Desert Classics provides funding not only to the non-profit organization and their many programs in the region, but brought an estimated three million in revenue to Central Oregon’s tourism industry annually. With over 600 horses and thousands of participants including trainers, riders, and staff coming from all over the western US and Canada, The Oregon High Desert Classics is one of the largest events in Bend each summer. The Classics were scheduled for July 15 – 19 and 22 – 26 this year. J Bar J Youth Services plans to hold the event again in 2021.   

Donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters Graduation is a BIG Deal campaign to cover the loss of Bowl For Kids Sake
Donate to the No-Show Horse Show to cover the loss of the Oregon High Desert Classics


No-Show Horse Show

Until we can be together again….. The No-Show Horse Show is a fun new way to keep the spirit of show competition alive

This virtual event which will bring together exhibitors, trainers, and barns who are unable to compete in person this year. Barns and riders will set up a course at their own facilities, film their rounds, and post them on social media. Judges will watch and comment on the rounds. Entries open July 1st, and the event will culminate on Saturday July 25th. The Grand Prix will feature horses and riders who have graced our Grand Prix in the past, riding courses from the comfort of their own barns. Look for details and rules soon on our website oregonhighdesertclassics.com.