CityYouth Ministries Inc. *

City: Jonesboro
Category: Nonprofit Organization of the Year
Year: 2008

As someone who began as a volunteer for CityYouth Ministries Inc. in Jonesboro, Rennell Woods knows first hand how to fulfill the organization's mission.

Woods, who is now executive director of CityYouth, said the nonprofit aims to develop personal responsibility and spiritual values among youth by serving their emotional and physical needs through spiritual, recreational and educational programs.

Woods added that CityYouth works with local pastors and business and community leaders to help "at-risk" youth. CityYouth serves an average of 9,780 people per year.

The essential elements of a nonprofit, Woods said, are trust and integrity.

"To run a nonprofit and have people trust their investment in your organization, first of all they have to trust you," Woods said. "And from that comes integrity."

CityYouth plans to expand throughout northwest Arkansas and the state through the development of satellite facilities. The organization is working to eliminate the debt on its current facility, after which it will begin working on a capital campaign to fund the satellite locations.

CityYouth receives between 60 percent and 70 percent of its funding from donations, while the other 30 percent to 40 percent comes from government funding, United Way and other sources.

CityYouth's annual revenue grew 49 percent in 2007 to $231,000. Operating costs leveled off at about $207,000 in 2007, up from $199,000 in 2006.

Michael Yates, chief of police in Jonesboro, touted the positive influence of CityYouth on the community.

"CityYouth Ministries may be the single most important and profound entity in the city of Jonesboro when it comes to instituting positive change in the youth of the community. In many cases, CYM may be the only positive point of light in a child's life. Their value to this community cannot be overstated," Yates said.

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