Hope in Action

Philadelphia youth advocates bring change to high-crime areas with IDAAY

Philadelphia’s ongoing struggle with gun violence has left its residents searching for solutions and hoping for a safer future. Amidst the uncertainty, some individuals possess the courage to make a difference within their communities.

Collee Newman, a passionate youth advocate with the Institute for the Development of African American Youth (IDAAY), is one such person. Newman’s transformative journey with IDAAY has broadened her perspectives and strengthened her resolve to create positive change.

Newman’s association with IDAAY began only recently, yet she feels she’s been profoundly changed. Her involvement with the program has brought her face to face with the stark realities confronting Philadelphia’s youth today. For many kids in the under-resourced neighborhoods IDAAY serves, daily survival is often a series of challenges. Imagine trying to thrive under such pressure.

While news reports and statistics may provide some insight, the firsthand experience of attending events, participating in meetings, and listening to people’s stories, no matter how heart-wrenching, is vital in understanding what’s needed most, and how to help best. As a mother whose son was murdered (and another son has been incarcerated), Newman has deep empathy for at-risk youth and a fierce passion to make a difference in as many lives as possible.

Every day, Newman is part of a coordinated team that identifies kids in need, and provides personalized, individual assistance to get them off the street and engaged in healthier, more beneficial behaviors. Outreach targets high-crime areas, where they strategically establish points of engagement. “Where we have networks, we can start working with the kids immediately,” said Newman, “In other areas, we need to spend some time building trust, and that’s OK. Whatever it takes.”

At the core of IDAAY’s approach is the belief that the solutions to a neighborhood’s problems come from the community itself. As credible messengers and trusted contacts, Newman and her colleagues can tap into local networks who can tell them what’s going on in key households, where tensions or misunderstandings could be brewing.

“We don’t just intervene, we redirect,” Newman told us. In addition to counseling, self-improvement, and case management programs, IDAAY offers training, college prep, parenting classes, sports and other enrichment activities – even gaming tournaments.

“And we don’t just give them numbers to call, we are with them every step of the way,“ said Newman. IDAAY advocates also assess a kid’s living situation, making sure they’re in a safe, stable home with enough to eat. “We have a ton of resource partners, and can get them whatever support they need.”

Though the program is still in its early stages, Newman believes it has already made a positive impact. “Even if we’re only able to help a little bit, it’s never a wasted effort,“ she told us, noting that she’s feeling more motivated than ever to help cool down the city’s “hotspots” this summer.  “We’re only just beginning,” she said.

As Newman’s journey with IDAAY continues, she invites others to join her in making a meaningful difference and empowering young individuals to pursue a better tomorrow, “Come out to an event or two, just being present shows these kids you care.”

⭐⭐⭐ Coordinator Spotlight: Dwight Olds ⭐⭐⭐

While many staffers and volunteers pitched in for Youth Palooza, the considerable achievement of organizing this basketball tournament belongs to one man alone: Dwight Olds.

Dwight is a volunteer coordinator in the Community Crisis Intervention Program (CCIP) at IDAAY, who has firsthand experience with the streets and the challenges faced by today’s youth.

Dwight’s journey is a testament to the resilience and transformative power of mentorship and support. Having overcome his own past struggles and brushes with the law, Dwight understands the importance of intervening early and guiding young individuals toward nonviolent paths. His dedication to this work stems from the loss of friends to the streets and a deep desire to prevent others from experiencing the same pain.

Through the CCIP, Dwight and his team of advocates are actively engaged in schools and hotspot neighborhoods, reaching out to the youth and spreading the vital message of putting the guns down. Their ultimate goal is to stop the violence and create a safer environment for all.

JUNE 19 (12pm – 4pm) at Tustin Playground
🎉And Community Block Party! 🎉

Get ready for an exiting event that brings together basketball and community to send a powerful message of nonviolence. Single-elimination tournament with 8 teams of 8 players each. Cash prizes for the top three finishers. Everyone’s a winner, though! With free local treats and resources on hand plus a grassroots media spotlight.

Halftime performances include step shows, Double Dutch teams, and other local talent, with popular rappers & positive role models The Young Kings taking center court for the grand halftime.

Local food vendors, plus a community marketspace selling handmade goods that showcase the talent and creativity of our youth. With special thanks to the following community partners:

All welcome! Please come out and show your support for our community’s youth and come meet some real neighborhood superstars! For more information about Youth Palooza, contact IDAAY.


Founded in 1991, the Institute for the Development of African-American Youth provides educational and cultural programs, as well as treatment and social services for African American youth, their families, and the broader community. IDAAY strives to reduce the high level of violence and other social problems that disproportionately affect disadvantaged youth in the Philadelphia area.

With a comprehensive range of services and programs, IDAAY empowers and uplifts disadvantaged African American youth, fostering resilience and promoting positive community engagement.

2305 N Broad St. 19132
(215) 235-9110

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