J Bar J Youth Services has a long history of seeking innovative options to help youth choose better futures, and a record of adding new programs to meet new challenges and create brighter outcomes:
By equipping homeless and runaway youth with tools for navigating an adult world and providing stability and shelter, we help them avoid the perils of street living and complete their education. We’ve sought to intervene earlier, before a more serious struggle begins, through providing mentors and helping families avoid foster care. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, education, and counseling, we expose youth in the juvenile justice system to new possibilities.
In 2019, we opened our latest innovation: a vocational program for the adjudicated youth at the Boys Ranch.
The original program in our continuum of many was founded in 1968. The J Bar J Boys Ranch is a residential treatment program for adjudicated youth providing an opportunity to restructure thinking, succeed academically, and grow in responsibility. The goal is for young men to return to their communities as productive citizens.
The youth at the boys ranch come to us through the juvenile justice system, having made bad choices, yet capable of changing their trajectory. Our outcomes are good: they leave with the understanding that their choices define their future. Boys are in residence 12-18 months, arriving, on average, 3.9 years below their grade level. Typically, they’ve increased their grade level by 2 years by graduation from the program. However, only a small percentage of them will go on to any type of continuing education; college or vocational training beyond high school or GED. We want to change that.
Incorporating a vocational program into the Learning Center at J Bar J Boys Ranch, our accredited alternative school located on site, will enrich the education of the boys we serve. Teaching hands on subjects like construction and woodworking, engines, and robotics not only gives them work skills, it helps them develop problem solving and also to understand ways in which training can help them build a future.
A lack of mentors is common to most boys who made the choices which led them into the Juvenile Justice System. This program will not only introduce them to vocational possibilities and work opportunities in the region, but also expose boys to people working in jobs now. Role models who can talk about their experiences in fields these youth may be interested in are needed.
Planned types of classes to be offered:
- Carpentry, dry wall and framing
- Computer Technology and application design
- Lego Robotics
- Automotive & small engine repair
- Woodworking & woodshop
- Landscaping, painting, plumbing, welding
- Drone development
The new classroom and shop was constructed on J Bar J Boys Ranch property we already own, which houses the existing classrooms and residential facility.
It’s been shown that students with greater exposure to vocational programs are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in a two-year college, be employed, and earn higher wages. Not only that, training provides the greatest boost to the kids who need it most: boys, and students from low-income families.
This program will not only build resiliency and increase employment possibilities for the boys and reduce the likelihood of youth re-offending in our community, it will help build a local workforce.
July 2017: Launched quiet phase of campaign
October 2017: Launched community campaign
Preliminary work started October 2018
Groundbreaking was December 13th, 2018
Opening Celebration December 4th, 2019
Cost of construction and equipment: $ 499,030
The Central Oregon community came together to make this happen.
Special thanks to Don Smith for his time, donations, and effort to help make this project a reality.