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Bringing Everyone’s Strengths Together


What’s best for our youth? According to the City of San Jose’s latest evaluation report, the Bringing Everyone’s Strengths Together (BEST) program at Catholic Charities’ Washington United Youth Center has made significant strides in positively impacting local youth through gang prevention programming.

The BEST Final Evaluation Report for the 2016-2017 program year reflects the City’s commitment to deliver services to youth who are most vulnerable to gang involvement. Key findings show youth reporting higher rates of change compared to the previous year across every measurement. This year, 77% of youth expressed an increased ability to connect with adult allies because of their involvement in BEST programming, an increase of 17% from the previous cycle. In addition, 77% of youth said that they feel prepared to succeed in the community because of BEST services.

In fiscal year 2016-2017, Catholic Charities served a total of 953 unduplicated program participants. Of those 953 clients, 96% expressed that their ability to stay safe was better, and 99% expressed being more successful at school or at their job due to BEST programming. According to the agency score card, Catholic Charities earned a high satisfaction score, with children and youth rating the program between excellent and good, and reported feeling that they had benefited from the program.

“BEST makes a difference for our youth every day,” says So’o Poumele, BEST Program Manager. “Youth are getting reconnected to their school, adults, and their peers. We support them to feel prepared to succeed, and thrive with and in their community.”

In partnership with the City of San José, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County provides truancy, gang prevention, and intervention services to at-risk youth through BEST programming offered at the Washington United Youth Center (WUYC). WUYC provides a safe haven for thousands of youth seeking refuge from the streets. Our programs work with at-risk youth who face challenges that may include homelessness or addiction among family members, and offer resources, support, and lasting friendships among counselors and peer youth.

To learn more about BEST, contact So’o Poumele, Program Manager at spoumele@catholiccharitiesscc.org.