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Youth Changemaker Program


The Fresh Start Youth Changemaker (FSYE) program, a collaboration between HEAL and the Winchendon Community Action Committee (CAC), is designed to empower our most vulnerable youth. By merging leadership, life skills, and job training, the FSYE program creates a stable path for at-risk youth as they transition to independence after high school.


Program Components

Leadership, Social, Emotional, and Life Skills Development
Youth will participate in bi-weekly sessions led by certified life coaches, youth development workers, and local leaders. Trainings include:

  • DiSC assessment

  • Healthy relationships

  • Mental health first aid

  • Resume writing

  • Communication and public speaking

  • Well-being and mindfulness

  • Action-civics

  • Effective habits and mindsets

Participants will set personal goals and create action plans, with access to funding and resources for classes or materials related to their goals.

Financial Budgeting and Coaching

Individualized financial education and planning are provided by our dedicated Financial Coach. Here’s what participants can expect:

Create Budgets and Financial Plans:
Youth will learn to track income and expenses, set financial goals, and develop realistic budgets. Our Financial Coach offers personalized guidance to ensure participants understand financial management and decision-making.

Open Savings Accounts:
We assist participants in opening savings accounts, teaching them the benefits of saving, how interest works, and the importance of regular contributions to their savings.

Savings Program with Matching Funds:
Participants can join our savings match program, where every dollar saved is matched up to $500. This helps youth reach their financial goals faster, whether for college, a car, or other significant expenses.

Through these services, youth will gain essential financial skills, laying a strong foundation for their future.

Job Skill Development
Youth will receive monthly stipends for part-time work at the Sunshine Cafe and Community Hub, gaining hands-on experience in:

  • Customer service

  • Marketing

  • Food service and safety

  • Basic cleaning and maintenance

  • Business planning

  • Fundraising

  • Event planning

Civic Engagement

Our program emphasizes civic engagement, encouraging youth to contribute to their community through various activities:

Volunteering at the Food Pantry:
Youth assist with distributing food, organizing supplies, and supporting daily operations, gaining an understanding of community needs and the importance of service.

Organizing Community Outreach Events:
Participants plan and execute events such as health fairs, educational workshops, and neighborhood clean-ups, learning project management, teamwork, and event planning skills.

Working with the Youth Advisory Council:
Youth can join the Youth Advisory Council to voice their opinions and influence local government decisions, working with town officials to advocate for policies benefiting young people.

These activities help youth build leadership skills, foster a sense of civic responsibility, and create a stronger connection to their community.


Mentoring and Wrap Around Support

Each youth is paired with a mentor to provide guidance and support. The mentor will work closely with CAC staff to connect youth with essential resources, such as:

  • SNAP/HIP registration

  • College applications

  • Mental health resources



The FSYE program leverages partnerships with local institutions and organizations, including:


Additional support comes from:

Key Outcomes

Participants will:

  • Develop a web of support and resources

  • Receive at least 20 hours of leadership and life skills training

  • Engage in 100 hours of part-time employment and job skills training

  • Complete financial budgeting and planning workshops

  • Create and implement personal goal action plans

  • Partner with a mentor/coach

  • Complete a United Way Youth Venture project

  • Give back to the community

  • Earn $500 plus additional matched funds

Population Served

The CAC serves over 10% of Winchendon’s population, focusing on marginalized groups, including low-income and BIPOC residents. The town faces significant challenges such as poverty, food insecurity, and lack of educational opportunities. The FSYE program aims to address these issues by providing essential skills and resources to help youth succeed.

Join Us


Empower youth and transform lives with the Fresh Start Youth Empowerment Program. For more information, visit our website or contact us today.

Contact Us to Learn More!

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