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Our Model & History

Student ambassadors dressed to impress, through Alternatives Inc in Hampton, VA

Alternatives programs and services increase the creativity and civic leadership of young people, empowering them to develop a sense of altruism, self confidence, self efficacy, social competency, critical thinking, and an appreciation of diversity in cultures and beliefs.

Program Model

Our organizational model is based on the creation of partnerships and alliances with:

  • Public and private schools

  • Faith- and community-based child care centers

  • Afterschool programs

  • City government

  • Mental health agencies.


Our model emphasizes the strengths of all youth rather than reducing specific problem behaviors of targeted youth. Because of these distinctions, Alternatives continually receives local, state, and national recognition for innovative youth development.

Circa 1973 photo from when Alternatives first was founded


Alternatives opens substance abuse treatment and prevention services in Newport News, Virginia.


City of Hampton contracts with Alternatives for substance abuse treatment and prevention services.


Representatives of the police, schools, community, and Alternatives form the Hampton Intervention and Prevention Project (HIPP).


HIPP program is featured in national news special on ABC television.


HIPP named one of top twenty prevention programs in the nation by the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors.


Alternatives establishes the first Just Say No clubs in Hampton City Schools.


Studies reveal 52% drop in drug related suspensions and 71% drop in drug-related expulsions since the start of HIPP.


HIPP receives Outstanding Service award from Regional Center for Drug Free Schools.


HIPP recognized with Governor’s Award for Anti-drug efforts.


Alternatives expands services beyond prevention to the practice of Youth Development.


Neighborhood-based youth development projects begin in Hampton.


Alternatives receives the Director’s Community Leadership Award from the U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Just Say No marks its tenth year with over 4000 in attendance at the annual event.


Alternatives enters the cyber age. YouthLink, the first Internet site by and for youth in Hampton Roads.


Alternatives celebrates 25 years of service.


Youth Development programs created by Alternatives are recognized by Washington based national youth journal Youth Today as a model for the nation.


Alternatives is recognized for “Serving as a National Inspiration” by The National Center for Youth Development and Policy Research, Washington DC.


Alternatives is the first organization in Virginia to be State certified with a Department of Labor youth worker apprenticeship program.


  • R.E.L.A.T.E. (Relationship Education) program and training curriculum is developed for Statewide distribution.

  • Alternatives' Monart Drawing School is certified by Monart International. It is the first school in Virginia.


  • Alternatives wins the Senator Harris Wofford Award from Youth Service America

  • Alternatives named B.E.S.T. Regional Trainer by the National Training Institute.

  • Alternatives conducts Career Studies Certificate in Youth Development at Thomas Nelson Community College.

  • Mattel Children's Foundation supports innovative Monart Drawing to Read program for preschoolers


Alternatives' service-learning partnerships are recognized with the "Talking Smart" award from the National Service-Learning Partnership.


  • Alternatives named lead agency for the Communities Empowering Youth, White House Initiative.

  • For the second year in a row, Alternatives is cited as nonprofit partner by the cities of Hampton and Newport News when selected as Winners of 100 Best Communities for Young People by America's Promise – The Alliance for Youth.


Southern Growth Policies Board Presents Alternatives' and the City of Hampton the 2008 Virginia Innovator Award for Youth Civic Engagement Partnership.


National League of Cities cites Alternatives' and the City of Hampton for its "cutting edge Youth Civic Engagement initiative" in their 2009 report, State of City Leadership for Children and Families. The report was released at 2009 National Summit on Your City's Families.


Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP) and America's Service Commissions (ASC) publication "Transforming Communities through Service: A Collection of 52 of the Most Innovative AmeriCorps Programs in the United States,” cites Alternatives, Inc.’s Peninsula AmeriCorps Serve and Support (PASS) as one of the most innovative programs in the country.


  • The City of Hampton is selected as one of seven finalists for the 2011 Reinhard Mohn Prize awarded by the Bertelsmann Stiftung Foundation for Hampton and Alternatives’ efforts in youth civic engagement. Hampton is  awarded fourth place for all its efforts of deliberative governance within city government, schools, neighborhoods, and the community at-large that promote and seek citizen participation from both youth and adults.

  • Sodexo Youth Serve America – Global Youth Service Day awarded a "Plant Away Hunger" grant for the Hampton Teen Center community garden. The project, led by a team of AmeriCorps members was selected as one of the top five projects across the United States


21st Century Learning Community Center (CLCC) is established at Hunter B. Andrews.


Main office relocates to Fort Monroe. 


  • Alternatives is selected as One City Marathon Charity for the City of Newport News. 

  • Fiscal sponsorship for the Virginia Partnership for Out of School Time (VPOST)



21st Century Learning Community Center (CLCC) is established at Hines Middle, Crittenden Middle, Huntington Middle, and Passage Middle School.


New executive director Ragen Johnson is hired. 


Alternatives receives Young Audiences Education Partner of the Year award.



Channel 13 News Now recognizes Alternatives for distinguished work in youth development.


Alternatives celebrates 50 years

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