Mission & Values
Discover the mission and values that guide Youth Villages in the work we do to radically improve outcomes for children and their families.
Who We Serve
Youth Villages works with children and youth who have serious emotional, mental and behavioral problems. The children and families we help face incredible challenges, including poverty and systemic equity issues. Find out more about who we serve and how to refer a child.
Youth Villages is headed by CEO Patrick W. Lawler, who leads officers and directors supervising a staff of more than 3,300 team members. The organization is guided by a volunteer national board of directors, as well as local advisory boards.
Patrick w. Lawler
Chief Executive Officer
Patrick W. Lawler is CEO of Youth Villages, a national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health, committed to building strong families, delivering effective services and significantly improving outcomes for children in child welfare systems across the country.
Mike Bruns served as chairman of the Youth Villages board of directors from 1997-2001 and 2005-2013, a period of great growth and expansion for the organization. During that period, Youth Villages expanded programs and services to three other states and doubled the number of children served. As recognition of his dedication to the organization, Bruns was elected Youth Villages first-ever chairman emeritus in 2013.
A History of Youth Villages
Founded in 1986 with the merger of two Memphis-based residential campuses, Youth Villages is now a nationally recognized leader in the field of children’s mental and behavioral health. From the early days of serving just 80 children a year, we’ve since grown to help tens of thousands of children, families and young people annually, with a complete continuum of programs and services across 23 states and 100 locations.
$1.6 million capital campaign kicks off construction for Dogwood Village campus
$1.6 million capital campaign results in major construction at the Dogwood Village campus: 14,500-square-foot Morris-Wilson Campus School and Activities Center, the Judge Kenneth A. Turner Administration Building and two additional children’s cottages.Youth Villages is formed in Memphis, Tennessee,, when Dogwood Village (now the site of the Dogwood Campus) merges with another youth residential center, Memphis Boys Town (now the site of the Bartlett Campus), creating a new nonprofit organization that helps approximately 80 children.
Treatment Foster Care Program is initiated
Treatment Foster Care Program is initiated.
Survey Reveals Greatest Needs for Rural Tennessee
Youth Villages conducts a study of children’s services needs in rural West Tennessee. More than 126 children’s services officials are interviewed as part of the study. The study reveals that the region’s greatest need is intensive in-home services for troubled families.
Home-Based Counseling Programs are Initiated and Additional Offices are Opened in Tennessee
Through start-up funds provided by the Plough Foundation and other donors, Youth Villages initiates Intercept intensive in-home services in collaboration with the Medical University of South Carolina. Youth Villages becomes the first agency to use Multisystemic Therapy(MST) on a large scale outside of clinical trials.
Over 1,000 Children Served
Youth Villages executes a fully integrated continuum of care, which becomes a national model for other mental health care providers. A major expansion of the Morris-Wilson Campus School and Activities Center at the Dogwood Campus adds 5,000 square feet to the school.
Youth Villages expands Home-Based Counseling to Mississippi
Youth Villages expands Intercept intensive in-home services to Mississippi. The United Way of America awards Youth Villages the Silver Excellence in Service Quality Award. Youth Villages is the first agency nationwide to receive this award, based on the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige criteria.
Memphis-based Family Link joins Youth Villages
The Family Link in Memphis, an agency that operates the area’s only emergency shelter for runaway and homeless teens, becomes a program of Youth Villages. The 11,000-square-foot Mike Bruns Family Counseling Center opens at the Bartlett Campus, the former Memphis Boys Town.
Youth Villages welcomes Nashville-based Serendipity House
Nashville-based Serendipity House, founded in 1973, becomes a program of Youth Villages, doubling our capacity to care for children in Middle Tennessee.
$2M gift expands transitional living offerings
The Day Foundation funds a $2-million Transitional Living program, which would become YVLifeSet, to help children aging out of foster care and state custody make a successful move to independence. Treatment Foster Care and YVIntercept intensive in-home services are expanded statewide in Mississippi.
Tennessee initiates special needs adoptions
Adoption services for children with special needs are initiated throughout Tennessee. Youth Villages is cited as a national model in a study commissioned by the American Youth Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. The National Coalition for Juvenile Justice highlights Youth Villages as a national model in its annual report and calls for other states to implement similar programs.
$11M campaign is most successful to date
Youth Villages conducts its most successful fundraising campaign — raising more than $11 million — for the construction of a new school and activities center and a Center for Intensive Residential Treatment on the Bartlett Campus. Youth Villages is cited in a national report by the American Youth Policy Forum as one of eight “guiding light” models in the United States with programs that successfully reduce the incidence of juvenile crime.
YVIntercept expands to Alabama
The Youth Villages YVIntercept intensive in-home services program expands into Alabama. Construction is completed on the Paul Barret Jr. School, and the state-of-the-art learning and activities center on the Bartlett Campus opens its doors to Youth Villages students.
44,000 sq. ft. expansion to Bartlett campus
The 44,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art $7.5-million Center for Intensive Residential Treatment opens at the Bartlett campus. The Specialized Crisis Services program is launched statewide in Tennessee. Mobile crisis counselors serve children under 18 years of age who experience an acute psychiatric emergency.
Edna McConnell Clark Foundation Awards Youth Villages with a $250,000 Grant
Youth Villages receives a $250,000 planning grant from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation to work with the Bridgespan Group to develop a strategic business plan.
Multisystemic Therapy Expands to North Carolina
Youth Villages begins offering Multisystemic Therapy in North Carolina.
Operations Center Opens
Youth Villages receives a second grant for $6 million from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation to help the organization implement a growth plan. Youth Villages opens its Operations Center, bringing leadership, program support and key administrative staff together under one roof.
U.S. News & World Report features Youth Villages CEO Patrick W. Lawler as one of “America’s Best Leaders,” along with such notables as investment guru Warren Buffett, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The project is a collaboration with the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
$1.5-million grant Awarded by the State of Tennessee for YVLifeSet Program
The Youth Villages YVLifeSet Program is awarded a $1.5-million grant by the state of Tennessee to help an extra 300 children on their way to independent adulthood. The state matches a $1.5-million grant issued by The Day Foundation. Youth Villages expands to Massachusetts with YVIntercept intensive in-home services.
Breaking Ground in Florida and Georgia
Youth Villages opens its first offices in Florida, bringing intensive in-home services to Tampa and Lakeland. Youth Villages expands to Georgia, offering intensive in-home services to children and families in Atlanta.
Merger with Inner Harbour and Large Expansion
Youth Villages opens new offices in Miami, Fla.; Asheville, N.C.; and Worcester, Massachusetts. The Youth Villages Girls Center for Intensive Residential Treatment celebrates its grand opening in Bartlett, Tenn. Youth Villages opens locations in Charlotte, N.C., and Hernando, Miss. Harvard Business School publishes case study on Youth Villages, holding it up as a national leader in the field of children’s behavioral health. Youth Villages earns praise from the White House, identified as being among “effective, innovative non-profits” that are “high-impact, result oriented” organizations. Youth Villages agrees to a merger with Inner Harbour, a residential treatment center, in Douglasville, Ga.Youth Villages begins providing intensive in-home services in New Hampshire.
Youth Villages Expands to New Hampshire
In June 2010, Casey Family Programs released the findings of a study conducted to share the examples of states and counties that have been successful in child welfare reform. The study outlines the way the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services has worked with Youth Villages, its largest private provider, to bring about reform. Read the study’s full findings.In April 2010, The NonProfit Times and Best Companies Group named Youth Villages as one of the 50 Best Nonprofit Organizations to Work For in the United States. In a Nov. 22 post, Harvard Business School faculty members Robert S. Kaplan and Allen Grossman highlight Youth Villages as an effective source for charitable donations. Youth Villages opens its first office in New Hampshire: Manchester.
YVLifeSet Expansion and Merger with ChristieCare
The Day Foundation announces a $42 million legacy challenge grant to Youth Villages primarily to help expand the organization’s YVLifeSet program that helps older foster children become successful adults. Merged with ChristieCare to form Youth Villages Oregon, bringing YVIntercept intensive in-home services to families in the Portland area.
Youth Villages receives $7.4 million Grant from Microsoft
Tennessee is first to expand comprehensive help to all former foster youth. Through a public-private partnership with Youth Villages, Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services will offer YVLifeSet to the more than 1,000 young people who turn 18 in state custody each year. Youth Villages is highlighted as a model organization in a new book by charity expert Ken Stern, “With Charity for All: Why Charities Are Failing and a Better Way to Give.” Microsoft grants more than $7.4 million in software and technology to Youth Villages allowing improvements in both internal and external communication systems.
YVIntercept Services Offered in Oklahoma
The Center for the Study of Social Policy names the Youth Villages YVLifeSet program as one of 15 local, state and national youth-and family-serving initiatives making a critical difference in the lives of youth in foster care. Youth Villages begins offering YVIntercept intensive in-home services to children and families in Oklahoma through a partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and funding from the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.
Steven Tyler Launches Janie’s Fund
MDRC releases its year-one evaluation of YVLifeSet, showing the program boosted earnings, increased housing stability and economic well-being, and improved outcomes related to health and safety for a population of very disadvantaged young people. Musician Steven Tyler launches philanthropic initiative to help girls who have been abused and neglected: Janie’s Fund. Tyler’s hit song “Janie’s Got a Gun,” originally released Nov. 8, 1989, was born out of a growing desire to speak up for victims of child abuse.
YMCA First Partner to Provide YVLifeSet
The Accelerator YMCA in Seattle becomes the first provider to partner with Youth Villages to provide YVLifeSet to help former foster and transition-age youth become independent adults. MDRC, a national social research firm, releases the two-year results from its study of the Youth Villages YVLifeSet program — the largest rigorous random assignment controlled study to help former foster youth every conducted. Taken together, the one- and two-year results show that participants in the program had positive impacts on a broad range of outcomes. Read about the full project at MDRC.org
Bill’s Place Breaks Ground
The Commercial Appeal recognizes Youth Villages as one of the top 20 large employers in Memphis, Tennessee. Youth Villages breaks ground on Bill’s Place, a $22M expansion of intensive residential services on its Bartlett Campus to help children with serious emotional and behavioral problems plus medical needs. Turning Points for Children partners with Youth Villages to bring LifeSet to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Steven Tyler’s Janie’s Fund opens Janie’s House at the Inner Harbour Campus to help girls recovering from abuse and neglect.
LifeSet Expands to New York City and Pittsburgh
New Yorkers for Children in New York City and Allegheny County in Pennsylvania partner with Youth Villages to bring LifeSet to New York City and Pittsburgh. Steven Tyler hosts the inaugural Janie’s Fund GRAMMY watch party to raise funds for neglected and abused girls and young women.
- LifeSet expands partnerships to Louisiana, Connecticut and Illinois.
- New Allies is founded as a new initiative to support state leaders and bring sustainable change to child welfare systems.
- Inner Harbour campus in Georgia celebrates 10 years since merging with Youth Villages.
- Girls Center for Intensive Residential Treatment renamed the Rose Center for Girls, in honor of the late Youth Villages board member, Memphis businessman and philanthropist, Michael D. Rose.
Kentucky and New Hampshire begin offering LifeSet services.
Click here to read our latest annual report featuring stories of hope from across our programs.
We are proud of receiving many accolades, honors and recognition for our organization and our leadership.