New Pathways for Youth

By Nonprofit Marketing ArizonaJune 22, 2016

For nearly three decades, one of the Phoenix-area’s most impoverished neighborhoods has had something to give it hope. New Pathways for Youth is a nonprofit providing transformative mentoring and after-school support to more than 500 at-risk youth and their families, in and around the Garfield Historic District. 

Garfield is a place where life expectancies are far below average for the region, 60 percent of residents do not speak English, and nearly half of all residents have not completed school past the eighth grade. On the strength of bold leadership, a proven transformative mentoring model and the group’s ongoing ability to recruit outstanding mentors, volunteers and staff from the community, New Pathways is helping to reshape the community and transform nonprofit leadership, one success at a time.  

In the world of nonprofit management, one can find a broad and growing spectrum of management styles and philosophies employed by organizations of all kinds for the purpose of building strong foundations to address community need. Traditionally, the process of building this robust system of internal leadership has taken a form of talent recruitment familiar to most HR professionals. But increasingly, nonprofits are looking to new methods in order to fill administrative gaps, focused on nurturing leadership skills from within. And they’re doing so without the benefit of resources and tools available to for-profit companies. 

New Pathways for Youth is one Arizona nonprofit embracing this new way of thinking, innovating the process of leadership development. New Pathways CEO, Christy McClendon, herself a beneficiary of mentoring at a young age, sees compounding value in this growing trend. 

“We’re an organization working towards a public good — providing services to communities in need, helping individuals reach their full potential. But New Pathways for Youth is not just preaching what we believe in, we’re living out our promise by giving opportunities and providing training to our staff to help them become leaders in the community and reach their own potential,” says McClendon.  

That’s why New Pathways for Youth has launched its own Leadership Success Institute, designed specifically to support staff as they transition into leadership roles. The program, comprising two, half-hour coaching sessions and one learning lab or integration session each month, started in May and will end in December. Those sessions include workshops on effective communication and strategies for powerful collaboration. Each member of the leadership team completes 360-degree assessments at the beginning and again at the completion of the program. This enables New Pathways to measure progress against seven key competencies of nonprofit leadership. Based on this feedback, each participant develops their personal action plan highlighting areas of focus that will improve and grow their leadership capacity.  

In addition to the work of building leadership internally, many past and current staff at New Pathways for Youth have taken part in several of the Valley’s top leadership and professional mentoring programs, including Valley Leadership, the Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI) and the Asian Corporate and Entrepreneur Leaders (ACEL). McClendon believes in the ripple effect that their work in building the next generation of leaders has on the surrounding community. 

“By encouraging and incubating leadership within our own organization,” says McClendon, “we’re leading by example and encouraging others to follow suit.” 

These efforts are providing New Pathways with a powerful return on investment. “When you build leadership from the inside out,” insists McClendon, “you’re doing more than filling a management position — you’re planting the seeds of lifelong advocacy.”