Central Oregon

Giving Youth a Second Chance

J Bar J Boys Ranch

Lack of opportunity, education and life skills too often results in young people making critical early mistakes that land them in legal trouble. Yet when young men are referred to the J Bar J Boys Ranch by the Oregon Youth Authority, they experience a program that teaches individual accountability and personal growth.

Since 1968, J Bar J has helped young men ages 13–18 by giving them the ability to change the way they think about their lives, and in turn change their behavior.

The new J Bar J Boys Ranch Vocational School will house hands-on programs, from woodworking to electrical skills to drone development.

“Generous donations from The Bend Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, local Rotary Clubs and individual donors like myself helped fund the new vocational school,” said Don Smith, OCF donor and former J Bar J director. “It will serve as an enhancement to the Ranch’s current educational programs and expose youth to various types of trades they may be interested in that will enrich their lives as adults.”

Update: The Vocational School Opens 

The J Bar J Boys Ranch held a ribbon-cutting for the new vocational school facility on December 4, 2019.  Don Smith, an OCF donor who was instrumental in gathering community support and awarded grants to the project from his OCF donor advised fund, made remarks.  One of the students spoke about his difficulty learning through books. Providing hands-on learning offers him hope for a better future through trade skills. Another spoke about developing a strong work ethic, he thanked the staff for giving him a chance to change past behaviors and build trust. There were about 75 community members present including donors, builders who provided in-kind support and representatives from clubs and civic organizations. The construction finished on time and within budget.

By combining rehabilitation and trade skill development in one program, the J Bar J Boys Ranch is creating a new model that can be adapted by other communities to create a better future both for at-risk youth and the local economy.