Milwaukie youth organization honored by Gates Foundation
Martin Rafferty, executive director of Youth ERA, formerly Youth M.O.V.E. Oregon, was chosen as one of eight featured global change makers in an exhibit that opened this month at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Discovery Center in Seattle.
Clackamas Drop, the statewide nonprofit's youth drop-in center in downtown Milwaukie, was renovated last year to include a state-of-the-art virtual reality room, a new stage and computer lab.
Open from 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, Clackamas Drop, 11097 S.E. 21st Ave., has offered a safe after-school hangout for youth 14-25 since its opening in 2011.
Rafferty, who lives in Eugene, was honored for having overcome homelessness at age 12 and going on to start a youth-serving nonprofit at 22. That nonprofit aims to help youth navigate and change the system to better meet mental health, crisis counseling, education and foster-care needs.
Now 27, Rafferty is expanding to bring training, technical assistance and support service programs for youth and young adults to the rest of the country. The organization continues to be recognized globally as a leading expert in effective youth-driven response to instances of school violence.