At Independence: A Family of Services, Inc. (IFS), our mission is to create the pathways to success for at-risk and troubled youth and families through innovative programs and services in urban New Jersey.
IFS began in 1971 as Independence High School, a nonprofit organization established to provide alternative education services to high school dropouts. For the past forty years, IFS has been committed to seeing that underserved young people in and around Newark, New Jersey receive the education and services they deserve and that work to keep them in school and on a path toward capable adulthood.
Also in the decades since our founding, IFS has expanded our services and our reach to include youth and families throughout Essex County. To reflect the organization’s growth to the multi-service agency we are today, our name was changed to Independence: A Family of Services, Inc. in 1991.
Our mission is to create the pathways to success for at-risk and troubled youth and families through innovative programs and services in urban New Jersey.
Independence: A Family of Services, Inc. (IFS) is a community-based, nonprofit agency that has served at-risk youth and families in Essex County for 40 years. IFS began in 1971 as Independence High School, a nonprofit organization established to provide supportive, alternative education services to high school dropouts in Newark. Over the years, the scope of the agency’s activities expanded as we continued to meet pressing needs within the community, with Independence High School remaining a key component of the organization. In 1992, our name was changed to Independence: A Family of Services, Inc. to reflect the organization’s growth to the multi-service agency we are today.
We serve children, teenagers, adults, and their families who reside primarily in Northern New Jersey and who are at substantial risk of dealing with abuse, neglect, or other mental health issues; school failure; involvement or placement with the criminal justice system; out-of-home placement; current or future unemployment or underemployment status; and critical judgment errors.
At IFS, we have a long-standing “No Reject, No Eject” philosophy, which means we take on all clients who meet our funders’ criteria and, no matter what challenges arise, we work with them, no matter how difficult, to find effective service interventions for them. This commitment to each individual’s growth allows us to connect with our youth and families, offering them a range of experiences and services, so that they want to grow and become stronger.
“I am, therefore we are; we are, therefore I am.”
This statement is the foundation of all we do at IFS, so that we always connect every client to a larger family and emphasize the larger family’s responsibility to each individual.
We make sure that every child, youth and family with whom we work understand that they must:
- Strive to build and maintain unity in their families and communities
- Act each day with a positive purpose that will build self, family and community to a state of wellness
- Work to define themselves positively and not let others create definitions of who they are or what they can become
- Be a part of the positive energy that is responsible for building, re-building and maintaining healthy individuals, families and communities
- Pour creative and positive energy into all that they do
- Believe that their leaders (teachers, clergy, elders) will provide the direction required for them to become whole and healthy as individuals, as families and as communities
- Teach and show respect to elders and seek the wisdom of those who have come before them
By pursuing—and instilling in our clients—each of these values, we envision a world in which all young people are provided the skills, resources and support they need so that they are able to stand on their own, but never alone.