YOUTH CORP OF AMERICA INC
February 9, 2010
Meet Christopher Valdez, founder and CEO of TYCoA
“Chris has a gift for communicating with young people and helping them through conflict. Parents are not taking them (to the gym), they show up because they choose to do it.”
Marcia Roberts, Tucson Police Department, West Side Coalition.
Long before Chris got involved in helping at-risk youth in Tucson, he was a kid on the brink himself. Growing up in a poor neighborhood in southeast Colorado, gangs were all around him. He even considered forming one of his own.
Since then he has earned a 7th degree black belt in Kajukenbo, has been a professional boxer, a boxing coach, a law-enforcement officer and a corrections officer. Chris knows first hand what is in the minds of kids vulnerable to gang activity and how to reach them.
“I’ve seen Chris in action with kids at campsites. He’s so big hearted. His thrust is martial arts, but he’s into anything the kids like—outdoor activities, physical fitness. . . anything.”
Katie Valenzuela, Kino “Weed and Seed Coalition.”
These days you are more likely to hear Chris quote Oliver Wendell Holmes or William Shakespeare than the tough street lingo of many of his students.
Called a true Renaissance man by people who know him, Chris has placed a high value on education in the arts, science, politics, business and literature. He imparts the same values to the kids he teaches, often introducing them to activities they never knew existed.
“My thirteen-year-old had a lot of problems, bad attitude, poor grades. I’ve seen so much change (since he started working with Chris). People ask, ‘How did you do it?’ He’s more polite, doesn’t talk tough and his grades have improved a lot.” Maribel Martinez, mother
Chris is the father of three children, one of whom died in an auto accident at 17. He understands the emotional impact of seeing bad things happen to our children. His goal is to help every child who comes to TYCoA realize his or her full potential and reach adulthood a confident, productive member of society.
“I spent over five years doing boxing training with Chris Valdez, and it wasn’t until recently that I realized all those years we were we were actually training for real life. He played a major role in shaping me into the man I am today. I feel like I can deal with whatever life throws at me.” Walid. A. Zarifi, attorney, Phoenix, AZ
Chris Valdez’s training to help kids never ends:
ï‚§ Rehabilitation Supervisor’s course in Quantico, Virginia.
ï‚§ The National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyoming.
ï‚§ The American Mountain Guides Association training in Joshua Tree, California.
ï‚§ Law-enforcement training certifications in Arizona and Colorado.
ï‚§ Certified substance abuse and prevention trainer in Arizona.
His programs have won praise:
ï‚§ 1985 “Best Program for Teens,” Arizona Parks and Recreation Association.
ï‚§ 1998 “Most Innovative Program,” Arizona Parks and Recreation Association.
ï‚§ 2006 “Family Self Sufficiency Program,” SAMSHA Model Program.
ï‚§ 2007 Nominee, NBCs “Making a Difference” news segment.
ï‚§ 2007 Nominee, Volvo for Life Awards.
ï‚§ 2008 Inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
ï‚§ 2008 Nominee, Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism.
ï‚§ 2009 Teddy Award Winner for youth-oriented community service.
ï‚§ 2009 Nominee, Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
The number of kids who stay out of trouble and incarceration.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
I would build the budget and offer more programs.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
The Youth Corps is small and really gets the job done.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
Professional and really connected to the kids.
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
this organization could be a model for other people working with at-risk youth.
Ways to make it better...
The agency had a better budget.
In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...
financial budgeting. This program does things on a shoe-string budget and does them well.
One thing I'd also say is that...
To the world you might be just one person, but to one kid, you might just be the world.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every week
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Professional with expertise in this field & I mentor at-risk youth from joining gangs.