Core Initiatives

To address the many needs of youth in Milwaukee, Pathfinders has focused it's efforts on four core initiatives.

Housing & Shelter

Pathfinders is Wisconsin’s oldest and one of Milwaukee’s most comprehensive and effective service providers for runaway, throwaway, and homeless young people. By employing a Housing-First model, we ensure that youth are given a safe and stable environment – and then provided with the additional services that will help them find success, including case management and individual support.

We offer emergency housing for eight youth ages 11 through 17, as well as crisis walk-in and overnight shelter for an additional two adolescents. Youth also have access to supportive services, such as family counseling that works to prevent them from experiencing a housing crisis. Pathfinders uses Positive Youth Development and Trauma Informed Care to serve nearly 225 teens each year. Over 90% of sheltered youth go to a safe and secure place after leaving Pathfinders.

For young adults ages 18 through 25 who are homeless, accessing appropriate housing services can be especially difficult. Recognizing this challenge, Pathfinders offers supportive housing services that match the needs of each individual. They are also given case management and support to address education, employment, and emotional needs.

Education

In partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and other community organizations, Pathfinders specializes in providing focused learning opportunities for middle school students through its behavioral re-assignment school and targeted interventions to reduce teen pregnancy, HIV/STI’s, infant mortality, and child abuse. 

Our middle school serves nearly 100 students each year. We work with students who have been so challenged by behavioral health problems that they face being permanently expelled from school. With our Trauma Informed Care approach, we effectively address the unique needs of our students, with most successfully returning to the MPS system.

Pathfinders also provides youth with a comprehensive series of prevention education resources through evidenced-based curriculums. Using a harm reduction approach, our prevention education effectively addresses key community issues – teenage pregnancy, infant mortality, HIV/STI transmission, and child abuse, sexual abuse, and human trafficking. As a result, Pathfinders has received both local and regional recognition for improving the health and well-being of Milwaukee’s most vulnerable young people.

Family Engagement

Youth need a positive, affirming, and healthy family able to offer support, encouragement, and guidance, whether that family is their family of origin or their family of choice. Pathfinder’s works with youth to ensure safety and healing, reunite with their family of origin when appropriate, and recruit and engage adult community members to help create a family of choice.

The families served by Pathfinders are often marginalized and disconnected from community resources.  Our youth and families are confronted by discrimination due to race, age, culture, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and other factors that can lead to trauma. Family and community engagement is essential for helping youth overcome barriers and transition into adulthood.

Youth Empowerment

Across services, Pathfinders ensures that youth are able to develop independent living skills, find employment, manage trauma, and gain educational support. The development goal-making process enhances the likelihood of a successful transition into adulthood.

We believe that every young person has leadership potential. Our challenge is to create opportunities that nurture young leaders and empower them to reach their potential. At Pathfinders, young people not only receive services and support, but give the same to their peers through volunteer work and paid employment.

Giving youth a voice is crucial to our work. Youth serve as Peer Advocates, AmeriCorps Members, Youth Leaders, and Advisory Board Representatives. .  Through their election to the Wisconsin Association for Runaway and Homeless Services (WAHRS) Board of Directors, youth from Pathfinders are also empowered to affect change across the State. The motto of our service providers: No talking about us without us.  Pathfinders works to embody this principle by engaging and empowering youth throughout its services and leadership development efforts.

Housing & Shelter

Pathfinders is Wisconsin’s oldest and one of Milwaukee’s most comprehensive and effective service providers for runaway, throwaway, and homeless young people. By employing a Housing-First model, we ensure that youth are given a safe and stable environment – and then provided with the additional services that will help them find success, including case management and individual support.

We offer emergency housing for eight youth ages 11 through 17, as well as crisis walk-in and overnight shelter for an additional two adolescents. Youth also have access to supportive services, such as family counseling that works to prevent them from experiencing a housing crisis. Pathfinders uses Positive Youth Development and Trauma Informed Care to serve nearly 225 teens each year. Over 90% of sheltered youth go to a safe and secure place after leaving Pathfinders.

For young adults ages 18 through 25 who are homeless, accessing appropriate housing services can be especially difficult. Recognizing this challenge, Pathfinders offers supportive housing services that match the needs of each individual. They are also given case management and support to address education, employment, and emotional needs.

Education

In partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and other community organizations, Pathfinders specializes in providing focused learning opportunities for middle school students through its behavioral re-assignment school and targeted interventions to reduce teen pregnancy, HIV/STI’s, infant mortality, and child abuse. 

Our middle school serves nearly 100 students each year. We work with students who have been so challenged by behavioral health problems that they face being permanently expelled from school. With our Trauma Informed Care approach, we effectively address the unique needs of our students, with most successfully returning to the MPS system.

Pathfinders also provides youth with a comprehensive series of prevention education resources through evidenced-based curriculums. Using a harm reduction approach, our prevention education effectively addresses key community issues – teenage pregnancy, infant mortality, HIV/STI transmission, and child abuse, sexual abuse, and human trafficking. As a result, Pathfinders has received both local and regional recognition for improving the health and well-being of Milwaukee’s most vulnerable young people.

Family Engagement

Youth need a positive, affirming, and healthy family able to offer support, encouragement, and guidance, whether that family is their family of origin or their family of choice. Pathfinder’s works with youth to ensure safety and healing, reunite with their family of origin when appropriate, and recruit and engage adult community members to help create a family of choice.

The families served by Pathfinders are often marginalized and disconnected from community resources.  Our youth and families are confronted by discrimination due to race, age, culture, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and other factors that can lead to trauma. Family and community engagement is essential for helping youth overcome barriers and transition into adulthood.

Youth Empowerment

Across services, Pathfinders ensures that youth are able to develop independent living skills, find employment, manage trauma, and gain educational support. The development goal-making process enhances the likelihood of a successful transition into adulthood.

We believe that every young person has leadership potential. Our challenge is to create opportunities that nurture young leaders and empower them to reach their potential. At Pathfinders, young people not only receive services and support, but give the same to their peers through volunteer work and paid employment.

Giving youth a voice is crucial to our work. Youth serve as Peer Advocates, AmeriCorps Members, Youth Leaders, and Advisory Board Representatives. .  Through their election to the Wisconsin Association for Runaway and Homeless Services (WAHRS) Board of Directors, youth from Pathfinders are also empowered to affect change across the State. The motto of our service providers: No talking about us without us.  Pathfinders works to embody this principle by engaging and empowering youth throughout its services and leadership development efforts.