September 2018
Left to right: Grace Serrano, Pastor Joel Cruz, Pastor Karla Cruz, Lishamarie Cruz.
A God-Centered Experience
That's Changing Teens' Lives

Eight years ago, two pastors had a vision to inspire teens to live boldly in their faith. The result? A growing movement of hundreds of youth experiencing God in new and unexpected ways.

The key players behind YX Movement, which consists of ongoing youth-led worship services and a yearly retreat, are Pastors Joel and Karla Cruz, from House of Praise and Worship in Hartford.

"The YX Movement creates opportunities for youth to have the freedom to express their love for Christ," shared Joel Cruz. "It is a fellowship that provides an intentional atmosphere for youth leaders and youth from different churches to come together and share their faith."

And for many, it's been life-changing.

Grace Serrano was no stranger to the church the first time she attended a YX Movement worship service. In fact, her church, where her parents are pastors, hosted the first ever YX Movement service. She even sang and played guitar for the service. Yet, something changed for her that day.
"Being part of YX has drastically changed my life for the better and I can't wait to see what God has in store for me in the coming years."
"I remember being fourteen and shy and having all kinds of questions about church, God and friends," she shared. "I wasn't quite sure what it was to have an encounter with God, let alone have a relationship with Him like my youth pastors kept insisting that I seek out. My older friends and cousins in my youth group were always talking about having a relationship with God and I wondered what they meant, but I was too shy to really ask."

She added, "It wasn't until I attended the very first YX service that I understood. I remember seeing people around my age giving their all during the worship. I was both awestruck and confused. I wondered if I could be like that and what it would take to get me there. I didn't have to wonder for very long. That night, I was able to really experience God for the first time, to have communion with Him and to be in His presence. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I can say that since that night, I have not been the same."

For the Cruz's, nourishing, encouraging and guiding youth to use the gifts that God has given them to their full potential is central to their mission. And sometimes, the steps to getting to that point are astounding.

"At our 'Fire Pit Let Go and Let God' testimonial time during our recent retreat, youth had an opportunity to 'throw in the fire' what they wanted to let go of. One youth said that he was a proclaimed atheist and that before coming to the retreat he questioned God's existence and didn't believe in God throughout the retreat. But, he had seen God move and knows that there is a God. He said that he was no longer an atheist and he knows God truly exists," shared Karla Cruz.

Lishmarie Cruz also recalled her experience during the retreat, where 92 youth from 10 churches gathered for the weekend. "I will never forget the Saturday night service. I have never felt the Holy Spirit as much as I did that night and it was just an amazing thing to feel," she said. "To me, being able to feel the Holy Spirit is such a privilege and that night I felt so honored."

Youth Genesis Cordero agreed. "The retreat this year was one of the best and most unexpected experiences I've ever been a part of. I didn't think that God was listening to a lot of my prayers and this year's retreat showed me that God is faithful when He says that He will answer us when we call unto Him. For the first time in my life, I felt the Holy Spirit and the weight of God's presence. It definitely changed my life entirely. It was mind-blowing."

LeAndra Reid, who has attended YX Movement ...
Above: Youth pastors and youth at the 2018 YX Movement Retreat.
We're Hiring a Full-Time
Senior Accountant!

This role is responsible for overseeing all accounting and related administrative functions of Urban Alliance . Major responsibilities include:

  • Invoice vouchering and check preparation
  • Payroll management
  • Data entry into QuickBooks accounting software
  • Preparation of monthly financial statements
  • Preparation of annual financial budget, including ongoing monitoring against actual results
  • Financial analysis and reporting
  • Oversight of various administrative functions such as insurance, employee benefits, etc.
  • Database management

Click the button for full details or to apply.
Charis Grant Recipients!

Congratulations to First Church of Christ Wethersfield , Youth Challenge and Calvary Church of West Hartford , who were recently awarded grant funding through Charis , an Urban Alliance initiative to help churches and ministry organizations reach and serve people who are facing mental, emotional or relational struggles so they are able to cope with life’s challenges and heal from painful experiences.

$5,000 in grant funding will support First Church of Christ in providing workshops on topics including Alzheimer's, understanding anxiety and stress, and addiction.

$10,000 in grant funding will support Youth Challenge as they enhance their vocational programming and expand their marketing efforts.

$1,000 in grant funding will support Calvary Church's efforts to provide workshops for single parents.

For more information about Charis, click below or contact Angela Colantonio , Urban Alliance's Director of Implementation, Health & Basic Needs Initiatives .
Next Generation: Helping Children and Youth Build Academic and Life Skills

Did you know that your church or parachurch organization can receive funding to offer an academic or life skills class to children or youth? 

It's true! This  grant, offered through Urban Alliance's Next Generation initiative, provides funding for classes that are offered for at least six sessions to a group of children or youth who would benefit from additional knowledge and skills needed to help them succeed in their schools and communities. 

For more information about Next Generation, click below. For more information about this specific opportunity for grant support, contact Rosaicela Rodriguez , Urban Alliance's Director of Implementation, Children & Youth Initiatives .
Get Ready for Giving Tuesday!

Every year, we celebrate philanthropy in a worldwide day of giving called Giving Tuesday!

Stay tuned for ways you can join #UAGivingTuesday or contact Jaleith Gary , UA's Director of Philanthropy, today to get a head start!
Make a Difference in a Child's Life With Just a Few Hours

Do you enjoy working with children and helping them succeed? Are you available one afternoon a week?

Consider volunteering as an after-school program tutor and provide emotional encouragement to children and youth, help them with their homework, and assist with the overall program.

Click the button below or contact Rosa McGuire , UA's Volunteer Manager, for more information about this opportunity.