Hope Street marks 20 years of helping youth

In 1990, Hope Street Youth Development began with a group of local Quakers buying a building so young people would have a place to "hang out and just be off the street," Brad Thomison said.

This week the Wichita organization, which is no longer affiliated with the religious group but still works with some of the founders, is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The nonprofit's mission is to focus on "creating opportunities for young people to be empowered to make smart choices in their everyday life," said Thomison, Hope Street's director of marketing and development.

With the group's help, middle school and high school students learn how to set up a bank account and keep a budget. They learn leadership skills; they lead their own activities. They get tutoring and help with college preparation.

"In 20 years, it's fair to say that thousands of people have been touched by the work of Hope Street," Thomison said.

Although the group will serve "any youth who needs help," the typical student served is a person of color from a lower-income family, he said.

"But we have students of all races and income levels and faiths.

"We really pride ourselves on being an intersection between lots of different types of students."

Hope Street has three full-time staff members and one part-time worker. The organization also relies on volunteers.

"Our biggest need is financial support, like any other nonprofit," he said.

People can help the group in a number of ways, he said.

For more information about the group, call 316-263-7325. Hope Street's website is hopestreet.com.