THE OUTLET is a local nonprofit based in Springfield, serving youth from the age of 8 all the way to 22. Founded in 2004 in Jacksonville by Michael Phelon, the Outlet has become an organization with a great location for youth to come and “Plug In”. Focused on youth who come from fatherless homes The Outlet’s mission is to help young fatherless youth develop the ability to make responsible life decisions, hold real meaningful spiritual values, explore their gifts, and realize their dreams. The Outlet, whose logo is of a power plug being plugged in, does just that for the youth in the Springfield area. Children are able to plug in to positive influences as opposed to finding themselves in less positive situations. A much needed service in the area, youth are able to come hang out, be mentored, gain cognitive skills, and so much more.
As described by their staff below, The Outlet has a variety of programs and hosts many community events throughout the year that allow others to plug in:
Muzic with a Message
We are taking a positive message and communicating it to our city through hip hop music, dance, poetry, spoken word and more. “Muzic with a Message” events will use these mediums to focus on issues that are plaguing our youth: AIDS, STDs, poverty, violence, and more. In addition to evangelistic outreach, school assemblies and community concerts, these events will give participants the opportunity learn and develop artistic skill through: hip hop workshops, education workshops, breakout sessions, dance teams/pantomime, and drama skits.
This program teaches youth about activism, leadership and community organizing. Through this program we are empowering young people to create change in their lives and communities. Youth will develop skills by learning how to organize, identify problems and create solutions. Through public speaking, town hall meetings and public engagement, we will empower young leaders to change their community for the better.
The Outlet is known for its one on one and group mentoring approach, working with families and schools and providing the ongoing support that kids need. With the involvement of caring adults, our kids are saying no to drugs, gang violence. They are rejecting illiteracy and poverty as a way of life, developing their God-given talents through unique, enriching opportunities.
Coffee and Conversation
It’s having a fresh cup of coffee and great conversation with local law enforcement officers. We are bridging the gap between cops and the community.
This program was started as an alternative for young adults to drugs, crime and other problem activities. Midnight League gets kids off the streets by offering late night basketball and (NO WORKSHOP NO JUMPSHOT) mandatory education, counseling, mentoring and personal development workshops in a safe environment. Midnight Basketball helps develop discipline and direction plus provides participants a source of pride and accomplishment. Hoop Journey is a year round basketball program targeting ages 12-22. The program consists of league games from June to August. Also prior to their game each night, teams gather together to hear professional from the area share on leadership, career development HIV prevention and more. The season ends with a final tournament with teams from each the city. From January to June open gyms are organized to continue relationships and build momentum for the upcoming league games. Go to The Outlet’s website to sign up!
The Street Light Music Initiative
The Street Light Music Initiative vision is to expand the popularity of Positive Hip Hop and Rap music in a world that is filled with destructive music. Many young men & woman listen to rap music that contains lyrics that promote them to become drug dealers, promiscuous, and nonproductive citizens in their community. We provide young men and women with music that has a message of hope, responsibility, and purpose but still has a sound that rivals secular music. We provide training for young men and women who are called to music production, radio, and disc jockeying. It is our goal to get the Positive Urban Hip Hop to young men and women by using Christian Hip Hop music as the vessel.
You can follow The Outlet on Facebook here (where they have been known to go live with some positive freestyle rapping amongst other visuals!), or visit their website at theoutletillinois.org. And to find ways that you can plug in, become a mentor, or volunteer with The Outlet contact Michael Phelon at (312) 330-1240 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.