Volunteers for Youth started in 1981 as a response to a need expressed by professionals in the Orange County court system. They determined that many youth appearing in court could be positively impacted by forming long-lasting relationships with caring adult mentors.
From 1982 until 2009, Volunteers for Youth launched hundreds such relationships through a mentoring program that was part of the state-funded Governor’s One-on-One Volunteer initiative. After the state legislature discontinued funding for Governor’s One-on-One programs across the state, Volunteers for Youth has continued to run the mentoring program with the assistance of local municipalities and individual support.
In 1992, Volunteers for Youth developed the Juvenile Community Services and Restitution Program, through which youth who have committed offenses pay back the community by completing community service hours at worksites throughout Orange County. Orange County Teen Court, an alternative court program for middle and high school students, has been coordinated by Volunteers for Youth since 2004. In Teen Court, first-time offenders are tried and sentenced by a jury of their peers while fellow students take on the roles of prosecutor, defense attorney, clerk, bailiff, and juror.
Primary funding for the programs of Volunteers for Youth comes from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Orange County, the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, United Way of the Greater Triangle, private donations, and the revenue raised through an annual golf tournament.