Alumnus Making Big Strides for At-risk Youth
By Amanda Morad
March 5, 2012
Dr. Jeremy Kohomban '05 (Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship)
"My boys." That's what Regent University alumnus Dr. Jeremy Kohomban '05 (Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship) calls the young men of New York City served by The Children's Village, the 162-year-old non-profit organization he now leads as president & CEO.
The Children's Village serves close to 10,000 New York City at-risk young men and women each year through residential and day school programs, street outreach for homeless and immigrant youth, foster and adoptive homes, a community center in Harlem, and a host of family support services. It was founded in 1848 and incorporated in 1851. "It's a New York City charity with a New York City-centric mission, and one of the oldest charitable missions in the United States," Kohomban said.
Kohomban came to lead The Children's Village in 2004 after seven years leading the Easter Seals Foundation of New York, which helps advocate for the independence of disabled persons. He has since transformed operations at The Children's Village. "Eighty percent of young people [in New York City] who were arrested and going into juvenile detention facilities were being rearrested for a similar crime within three years," he explained. "We said, no, we've got to change this. We can change this."
The Children's Village residential school for troubled children and teens used to account for 98 percent of the organization's budget when Kohomban came on board. Today, it accounts for less than 40 percent. The shift came from a greater emphasis on community-based outreach. "All of our growth has been in the community, meeting kids right where they are, rather than bringing them to us," Kohomban noted.
Most recently, The Children's Village received a $100,000 grant from the Alliance for Children and Families to implement a pilot project called Strategy Counts! The project, funded by the Kresge Foundation, is designed to help organizations "explore, test, and gain understanding" of the elevation of strategy in human service organizations.
"We are delighted to have been chosen for this award," said Kohomban. "For 160 years, we have been a leader in residential programming for at-risk youth. Today, 80 percent of our work is in the community keeping children safe and families together. Strategy Counts! helps us continue the transformation of our operations, culture, and image to reflect this important shift."
Kohomban explained that, in their efforts to diversify programs at The Children's Village, they weren't able to bring their changes into a cohesive message reflecting their growth and improvement. Strategy Counts! is helping the non-profit organization to put their best foot forward by promoting their exponential growth pattern and helping them procure the funds they need to operate.
The grant is a big step in helping The Children's Village attain Kohomban's biggest aspiration for the organization. "We're totally excited by teenagers that other people give up on," he said. "We like the challenge. The reason we're successful is because we're willing to do the work." Dealing with young people who have committed crimes and come from shattered families is unattractive work, Kohomban explained but, after 162 years, The Children's Village isn't backing down anytime soon.
This tenacity was fostered during Kohomban's time as a student at Regent. He graduated from the Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership program in 2005. "I didn't fit the mold of the typical student that came to Regent, so I felt that sometimes people were a bit harder on me and made me think through things further," he explained. "It made me stronger in my thinking and more grounded in the things I believe."
Kohomban allowed his non-evangelical background to work in his favor as he entered the field of non-profit leadership. "There are ways to bring people of diverse backgrounds and diverse opinions together to build a consensus solution," he said. "I learned to do that at Regent. Urban areas are full of diversity of opinion, and this is civil society at its best."
The Children's Village is proving that sentiment daily as they seek to change lives across New York. "We're not in the fixing business," Kohomban said of his pupils, "We're trying to transform their thinking and impact their values."
"Part of our success is in working with people that may not see the world the same way we do but they care deeply about the world we live in. There's so much more that we have in common than the things that separate us."
Learn more about the Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership.
Mindy Hughes, Public Relations
Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888