Youth On Their Own

aka YOTO   |   Tucson, AZ   |  www.yoto.org

Mission

Our Mission: Youth On Their Own (YOTO) supports the high school graduation and continued success of youth experiencing homelessness. Our Vision: Young people on their own are empowered and engaged community members. YOTO serves students in grade 6-12 throughout Tucson and Pima County, Arizona.

Ruling year info

1990

Chief Executive Officer

Elizabeth Slater

Main address

1660 N Alvernon Way

Tucson, AZ 85712 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

86-0644388

NTEE code info

Homeless Services/Centers (P85)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

School is challenging enough for the average student. But for youth who are experiencing unaccompanied homelessness, unsupported by their parents and lacking a stable home, graduation is even more difficult. Since 1986, Youth On Their Own (YOTO) has addressed the barriers to education faced by Pima County’s youth experiencing homelessness. YOTO was founded in 1986 by a local high school counselor who noticed that many of her students were not graduating because of highly unstable home lives, specifically, homelessness. Thirty-five years later, YOTO has grown into an organization that helps hundreds of students experiencing homelessness stay in school and graduate each year. The YOTO Program is well-established in over 100 middle and high schools throughout metro-Tucson and Pima County and serves 800-2,000 youth annually.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

YOTO Program

Services of the YOTO program are designed to help meet youth’s basic needs so they can focus less on their housing instability or food insecurity and more on in-school success. Services available to YOTO youth at no cost, include:
• Stipends: Academic stipends (up to $220/month) based on level of need and reported academic performance; flexible stipends; etc.
• Bill financial assistance for rent, utilities, internet/phone bills, medical bills, school fees, etc. Since COVID-19, YOTO has eliminated limits on emergency financial assistance to best meet student needs.
• Basic needs material support (e.g., hygiene supplies, food, school supplies, etc.) via the YOTO Mini-Mall, including laptops for online learning and other personal needs (e.g., stroller, children car seats, etc.)
• Transportation assistance (e.g., bus passes, taxi fares, bicycles)
• Ongoing academic support, including college & career guidance
• Referrals to community partners for housing, healthcare, and other unmet needs

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

YOTO’s Alumni Program supports YOTO’s graduates for up to four years after graduation, with the goal of helping them to gain more stability over time as they transition to the next phase of their lives (e.g., higher education, tech school, working, etc.). Youth must reside in Pima County and have graduated while enrolled in YOTO. Alumni participants can access YOTO services such as basic needs, financial support, and guidance as they continue to work toward their life goals. Many also receive scholarship support from YOTO for university or trade programs.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

Where we work

Accreditations

Charity Navigator 2015

Guidestar 2017

Awards

Meyer & Libby Marmis Humanitarian Award 2007

Jewish Foundation of Southern Arizona

Outstanding Nonprofit of the Year 2008

Arizona Business Magazine

Investee 2011

Social Venture Partners

Copper Cactus Charitable Non-Profit Business Award 2017

Tucson Metro Chamber

Torch Award - Non-profit ethics above $1.5 in revenue 2021

Better Business Bureau

Neighborhood Champions Award 2020

Bank of America

Affiliations & memberships

Association of Fundraising Professionals - Member 2016

Better Business Bureau 2016

Chamber of Commerce 2016

United Way Member Agency 2014

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total number of clients experiencing homelessness

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Homeless people, Students

Related Program

YOTO Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

YOTO served 796 youth in the 2020-2021 school year. As of mid-February 2022, YOTO has served 1,045 youth during the 2021-2022 school year.

Number of Delivered Transactions of basic needs Mini Mall items to youth (e.g., food, clothing, hygiene supplies, etc.)

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Homeless people, Students

Related Program

YOTO Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of clients receiving bill financial assistance

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Homeless people, Students

Related Program

YOTO Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

YOTO Program Participants can request assistance for bills including rent, utilities, healthcare, school costs, legal fees, daycare, and other types of bills.

Number of bus passes issued to homeless youth

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Homeless people, Students

Related Program

YOTO Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Sun Tran is the public transit system serving the city of Tucson, Arizona. SunTran began offering free rides during the COVID-19 pandemic, thus YOTO did not need to purchase rides for youth in 2020.

Number of program graduates

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Homeless people, Students

Related Program

YOTO Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

At the end of the 2020-2021 school year, Youth On Their Own celebrated 143graduates. This number fluctuates between years because the number of seniors enrolled in YOTO fluctuates.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

YOTO's ultimate goal is keeping homeless and unaccompanied students in school while mitigating dropout due to students' attendance. We accomplish this through the following key values:

As a youth-serving, youth-centered organization, we believe…
- YOTO is a safe place for youth to ask for help. No youth should be abandoned and every youth deserves the compassion and support of their community. The simple act of being cared about is transformational for youth.
- Every youth experiencing homelessness has potential and deserves to graduate from high school. Youth deserve to know that a bright future is their right, but that it requires effort to attain.
- YOTO provides guidance during the most challenging time in a young person’s life, helping youth learn accountability, responsibility and self-sufficiency. Guidance and belief in the student is just as important as the stipend and material support.
- Today’s youth are tomorrow’s future. Our investment in youth today leads to a positive impact on the future of our entire community.

As a nonprofit organization providing social benefit in our community, we believe in…
- Building and maintaining trust and transparency with our donors and honoring the intent of their gifts.
- Being good stewards of money and maintaining a sustainable organization.
- Communicating the impact of our donor’s gifts.
- Taking care of our staff and volunteers who are serving our youth.
- Nurturing collaborative relationships with schools and other nonprofits in our community, without whom we could not do this work.

We outline three key goals in our 2021-2024 Strategic Plan.

1. PATHWAYS: How we deliver our programs and services
GOAL: To grow, modify, and establish services that provide the maximum benefit for YOTO youth
• Increase staffing for direct student support
• Improve assessment of student needs to inform eligibility and level of service (tiered services model)
• Modify requirements for student stipend requests to align with national performance data for vulnerable youth
• Replace outmoded student database with robust student portal to improve tracking and student access to services
• Formally establish an alumni program to support YOTO youth in their education and employment efforts post high school
• Explore and pilot new programs in areas of high student need
• Expand 2-generation service approach to best meet the needs of parenting youth and those supporting siblings
• Strengthen program infrastructure and clarify staff roles


2. PARTNERSHIPS: Who we partner with to serve our students
GOAL: To establish, nurture, and strengthen relationships with our community partners and stakeholders
• Improve relationships with school liaisons through shared expectations, clarified roles, and enhanced site-based training
• Grow community referral network to improve student access to services and reduce duplicative efforts
• Build and grow an organized cohort of volunteers that addresses YOTO’s everyday operational needs and strengthens our network of individual and corporate supporters in the community
• Actively participate in collaborations and conversations pertaining to youth homelessness, education access, and programs/policies that directly impact the students we serve


3. CAPACITIES: What we need to achieve our goals
GOAL: To make targeted organizational investments enabled by increased community awareness and support
• Facilities: Identify and pursue a long-term solution to YOTO’s space needs
• People: Improve YOTO’s human resource management, grow internal leaders, and cultivate an inclusive organizational culture
• Financial Support: Establish and/or strengthen relationships with YOTO donors through enhancements to annual giving, major giving, and legacy giving programs
• Technology/Communications: Ensure that YOTO is equipped with the necessary technology to fulfill its mission and clearly communicate YOTO’s positive community impact
• Evaluation: Utilize expert and stakeholder feedback to continually improve our services

The YOTO Program is truly a collaborative effort between the Pima County public, private and charter schools and YOTO staff. Without the volunteer School Liaisons who work in the approximately 100 schools YOTO students attend, it would be impossible for this program to continue. Volunteers also provide critical in-house assistance to the stipend program, our Caring Couriers Delivery Program, and our Mini Mall. In 2019-2020, volunteers donated more than 8,680 hours of their time saving YOTO more than $220, 800!

Youth homelessness is often hidden under borrowed roofs and behind tired eyes. Helping these young people, who have the odds stacked against them, stay in school and graduate is an economically wise choice. A high school diploma is a critical step toward self-sufficiency and fosters lifelong economic benefits such as better job opportunities and higher wages; those who dropout may forfeit a lifetime of occupational opportunities. In addition, many YOTO alumni live in, work for, and give back to the Southern Arizona community by serving as volunteers, mentors, police officers, nurses, business owners, and YOTO board members. YOTO’s graduation track record and cohort of alumni prove that this program provides a powerful return that benefits our community’s quality of life.

In recent years, YOTO has received recognition for its ethical work supporting youth experiencing homelessness and for its commitment to leadership development. In 2021, BBB of Southern Arizona awarded YOTO the Torch Award for Nonprofit Ethics, recognizing organizations that demonstrate ethical practices, promote a culture of ethics, are committed to the growth of all staff members, and engage and improve our Southern Arizona community. In 2020, YOTO was selected for the prestigious Bank of America Neighborhood Champions Award, presented to one nonprofit organization each year that is poised to take their work and leadership to the next level. Additionally, YOTO maintains the GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency and a four-star Charity Navigator rating, awarded to organizations that exceed industry standards of financial health, accountability, and transparency.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    YOTO serves youth experiencing unaccompanied homelessness and housing instability.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Began offering additional COVID supplements and parenting supplements to youth, based on varying levels of need among youth.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Youth feedback is a critical componenet of YOTO's goals and programming. We regularly host focus groups and involve youth insight in strategic planning (most recently for 2021-2024 plan).

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback,

Financials

Youth On Their Own
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Youth On Their Own

Board of directors
as of 2/18/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Sean Denlinger

Nova Home Loans

Term: 2019 - 2022

Tony Cazzato

Owner, Pacific Services Intl

Jay Peskoe

Automotive Gold (retired)

Julie Stevenson

Otsuka Pharmaceutical

Deb Salaiz

Raytheon Missile Systems

Linda Montes-Cota

PICOR

Enrique Aldana

Arizona Public Media

Eric Dupree

Sysco Foods of Arizona

Elaine Babcock

Babcock HR Consulting

Viviana Fimbres

Teacher

Lorenzo Gonzalez

America Fire Equipment

Tom Hoyt

Tucson Electric Power Executive (retired)

Amanda Kippert

DomesticShelters.org

Amanda McCraw

Tucson City Court

Sean Murray

Commerce Bank of Arizona

Paola Ponce

Keegan Linscott & Associates

Cori Rodriguez

Rain Bird

Kristina Scott

Tucson Property Executives

Michelle Singer

Wellness Coach

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 02/15/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/15/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.