My name is Ryan Hesslau and I am a graduate of Lincoln-Way East High School, a recent graduate of Trinity Christian College, and Executive Director of the 501(c)(3) youth development organization, ForeverU. As a high school sophomore, I started ForeverU after researching the stories of students my age who had died by suicide due to life circumstances that went unseen. Their stories became my motivation for developing a creative solution to ensure that youth who were struggling had the resilience to keep living.
Today, ForeverU is empowering youth to overcome adversity by offering personal development camps, retreats, and after-school programs that equip them to face life's greatest challenges and obstacles.
Since 2014, 92% of our program participants have seen an increase in their emotional intelligence, 86% have experienced an increase in their self-esteem, and 95% believe they’re becoming closer to the person they hope to be. As a result of this remarkable traction, we have developed a powerful network of community partners (such as Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital and the Safe Communities Coalition of New Lenox) who have agreed to help us reach a greater number of youth and families in the coming years.
That being said, we are excited to announce that we are setting out to open a community empowerment center in New Lenox, IL with the purpose of offering an after-school safe haven to local youth and providing community members with a central location to become educated on youth behavioral health and wellness.
I am currently looking for local community leaders, business owners, and youth mental health advocates to join me on this journey of creating a positive shift within our local communities and help youth find their place in the world. If you would like to join my efforts as a financial partner in the development of this facility or serve as a community advocate by helping us get connected to new networks, I’d love to have to sit down with you to speak more about my vision. Together, we can help students excel in all areas of life.
Founder | President & Executive Director, ForeverU
Statement of Need + Project Description
Our current program model provides students with life-changing experiences and opportunities that help them understand the greatness within them by growing their emotional intelligence, accelerating their character development, and igniting an internal desire for personal achievement. Though this is a powerful aspect of our organization , a problem we’ve recognized through the years is that many of the daily environments our students find themselves in are not well equipped to be responsive to youth behavioral health and wellness.
Imagine if the parents, teachers, and other key influencers in the lives of our youth were properly aware and prepared to help nurture the character, outlook, and perspective that we are instilling in the students we serve? This thought process is the catalyst for our plan to open our first facility in New Lenox, IL.
This facility will be run by ForeverU staff and volunteers and serve as a central location for community members to become educated, equipped, and empowered to help us further our mission of youth development within the household, in the classroom, and even on the field. Through the assistance of community partners, this facility will serve communities in the following ways:
Youth Safe Haven: This modernistic facility will provide an engaging and inviting meeting place for students after school hours. Between a complimentary coffee bar, flex-seating, and multi-purpose furniture, students can customize their own experience within our facility.
Educational Classes: Through partnerships with behavioral health centers, private practices, universities, and other like-minded organizations, we will provide educational classes at least twice a week that help parents, educators, coaches, and other community members acquire the knowledge needed to be responsive to youth behavioral health and wellness.
Life-Readiness Programs: As a youth development organization, we will provide free programs at least once a week that will prepare youth for adulthood and future employment opportunities. These programs will provide students with practical techniques, practices, and strategies that will help them excel in all areas of life.
Certification Programs: In addition to educational classes, these local partners will help us facilitate interactive workshops at least twice a month that will provide community members with the opportunity to gain insight and certification in a wide variety of preventative practices such as suicide prevention and mental health first aid.
Training Programs: An important objective of this facility will be to also serve as the primary training center for those interested in volunteering in our programs by offering volunteer training programs at least once a month.
Online Courses: One of the most powerful aspects of this facility will be our ability to reach thousands through modern-day technology. Whether we are hosting an educational class on the vaping epidemic or an informative class on youth depression – everything is recorded, edited, and produced right out of our facility, allowing us to feature our classes online and educate a global audience.
The following Community Partners will have the opportunity to collaborate with our mission and facilitate our variety of classes, programs, and workshops offered to community members throughout the week:
Schools + Universities
Youth + Family Organizations
Behavioral Health Centers + Private Practices
Public Safety + Local Government
Financing the Project
Since the early stages of development for ForeverU [HQ], a primary objective in its establishment had been to make this a community supported facility through financial partners who consist of local corporations, foundations, independent donors, and in-kind contributors. In doing so, we believe this will instill a unique sense of purpose and meaning throughout the surrounding areas by providing these financial partners with the opportunity to support a local initiative and make a difference right at home.
Our projected operating budget which includes the daily operations of the facility, program expansion and implementation, and community outreach initiatives is $280,000.00. This will allow us to expand our team of full-time personnel and enhance the quality of our programming both within the facility as well as through our off-site programs – camps, retreats, and after-school programs.
Our focus at this time is to simply get the doors open. That being said, we have divided this projected operating budget into a few different phases with phase one being $80,000.00. This startup budget will allow us to open the doors of this facility and begin serving the community in 2020.
Additionally, with the assistance of generous in-kind contributors, we hope to have the build-out, furniture, supplies, and other necessary materials donated to us at no additional cost.
As for facility operations, we have developed a volunteer program that trains and certifies young adults to serve in our facility, allowing ForeverU [HQ] to be 100% volunteer run in the meantime while we continue our efforts of raising the remaining $200,000.00.
We predict that once we gain momentum by opening the doors to ForeverU [HQ], community members and prospective financial partners will see our vision unfold and be quick to join our efforts as we set out to create a long-lasting impact in the lives of youth and families locally.
Become a Founding Partner
Companies, foundations, and independent donors who are interested in joining our efforts as a financial partner in opening our first location in New Lenox, IL are encouraged to set up a meeting with ForeverU Executive Director, Ryan Hesslau.
During this time together, you will come to understand the innovative model that we are exploring for local communities when it comes to creating a balance between youth development and evolving communities. All donors who are willing to join our efforts and make a financial gift to this project will be recognized in the following ways:
Receive a Plaque Featuring Your Company as a Founding Partner
Receive a Website Badge Indicating That Your Company is a Financial Supporter of ForeverU
Receive Recognition and Exposure at Our Annual ForeverU Gala Every March
Become Featured in the Facility on the "Founding Partners" Wall
Become Featured on Our Website as a Founding Partner with Logo Linked to Company Website
Employees of Your Company with Children Receive Free Access to ForeverU Programs
Receive Volunteer Opportunities to Facilitate Workshops/Classes in Our Facility for Youth and Families
Additionally, if you are a company or organization who would be willing to provide an in-kind contribution or service, we’d love to work with you as well. All in-kind contributors will receive the same incentives as described above.
Those interested in bringing in Ryan Hesslau in for a meeting should either click below to email him directly.