Community Seeks Operator for Neighborhood Youth Services

A coalition of funders supporting the Neighborhood Youth Services (NYS) program seeks a new operator for NYS. The program was previously housed within The Hills Youth and Family Services, while Life House has served as its interim operator since July 2021. The partners supporting NYS now seek a permanent home for the organization to ensure it can continue to fulfill its mission.

The funders contracted with the Northspan Group, Inc. to complete a series of interviews with program stakeholders and develop a request for proposals (RFP) for its future operation. Their efforts have included interviews with over 50 stakeholders, including staff and participating families, to understand what they most value about the program and where they believe it should go in the future. The funders also seek a program operator that will further engage staff and participating families and that is committed to building strong, lasting relationships in the Central Hillside neighborhood.

The NYS program was launched in 1992, thanks to the vision of juvenile justice and neighborhood leaders, as a means of strengthening families and providing a safe environment for kids in Duluth’s Central Hillside neighborhood. NYS meets a significant community need through consistent, high-quality, no-cost, out-of-school time programming for at-risk youth and their families. NYS serves 400+ at-risk youth annually. NYS disproportionately works with underserved populations, particularly Indigenous, Black, and youth of mixed race. Most NYS children live in a single-parent household and virtually all are very low- to low-income based upon current guidelines from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  

In the words of a NYS parent, “NYS is the lifeblood for most Hillside families. If NYS was not available for my family that would mean more social isolation for my kids, no after school support when I am working. It is a place for my kids to go after school to hang out with friends, interact with outstanding staff, with access to nutritious food, healthy socializing, and help with the dreaded homework. It is a safe place and core of our Hillside neighborhood.” 

NYS’s current funders are committed to finding a long-term manager for the program to ensure it can continue to provide its critical services. Over the past year, Life House has made investments in the program’s assets, and the organization is committed to an orderly transition to a new program operator, including the provision of all relevant materials and working with the new operator to understand the nuances of NYS.

The RFP is currently available here and will be open until May 23. Northspan encourages potential operators to reach out to Karl Schuettler at with any questions or to learn more about the opportunity and discuss their capacity to support this vital community initiative.