On Thursday, United Way of Hall County awarded grants to six local organizations to help fund programs targeted to middle school youth.
The Middle School Asset Development Opportunity Grants were given to non-profit organizations, regionally accredited schools and government agencies.
Low graduation rates and high drop out rates prompted United Way to set aside funding to target middle school youth programs that incorporate the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Asset philosophy into their curriculum.
"Assets are positive experiences and qualities that all of us have the power to bring into the lives of youth," said Betty Guilfoile, a member of United Way’s Community Building Committee. "The goal is not to fix our youth, but to develop them and prepare them for success in their lives."
Guilfoile said research shows that youth with many of these assets are more likely to resist negative pressures.
Some of the developmental assets include: positive family communication, service to others, adult role models, creative activities, reading for pleasure, healthy lifestyle, planning and decision making and self-esteem.
The Girl Scouts of Northeast Georgia received a $10,000 grant for its Girls Grow Strong program, which focuses on constructive use of time and developing positive values.
Patti Lester, membership marketing director, said she looks forward to being able to reach a lot of girls at one time, as well as working with other local agencies.
Catholic Charities received a $10,000 grant for its Path to Success program, which will offer 12 workshops for parents and children at two different middle schools.
The grant "gives us a chance to really expand on this program," Development Director Barbara Dobson said.
With its $15,000 grant, Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County will support its Goals for Graduation program, which encourages middle school participants to set goals that enable them to stay in school, avoid risky behavior and graduate on time.
Graduation Coach Jason Pleasant said he tries to make the goals attainable for the kids he works with.
"If they believe they can do it then they’ll start to believe in themselves," he said.
A $15,000 grant was also given to Teen Pregnancy Prevention to implement its Smart Girls program at Gainesville Middle School.
The abstinence-based program supports development of boundaries and expectations, positive values, social competency and positive identity.
Executive Director Barbara Hicks has seen middle school girls who participated in the program graduate from high school and become successful.
"It’s really exciting to see the progress they’ve made," she said.
To qualify for the grant, each organization’s program or project must serve or benefit middle school youth in Hall County and must also build developmental assets for children and youth.
Recipients will report on the status of their programs semi-annually during the two-year grant cycle.
The aim of Middle School Asset Development Opportunity Grants, given by United Way of Hall County, is to increase the number of asset-based resources available to youth and to encourage community organizations to get involved with intentionally building developmental assets.
“Assets are positive experiences and qualities that all of us have the power to bring into the lives of youth,” said Betty Guilfoile, a member of United Way’s Community Building Committee.
“The goal is not to fix our youth, but to develop them and prepare them for success in their lives.”
The following organizations received grants: Alpine Program/Hall County Pioneer Regional Educational Service Agency; Boys & Girls Clubs; Catholic Charities; CW Davis Middle School; Girl Scouts of Northeast Georgia and Teen Pregnancy Prevention.
Grant recipients will report on their programs’ status semi-annually during the two-year grant cycle.