City awards $75,000 to three youth programs

Grants are part of funding for at-risk youth set aside in Measure N sales tax revenue

By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN

VISALIA – Measure N was passed by Visalia voters with the idea of providing better service to improve the quality of life for their children. But many of those children won’t have to wait until they can drive, work or own property to benefit from the half-cent sales tax.

The Visalia City Council unanimously approved $75,000 in grants to three local organizations serving at-risk youth in the community at its Jan. 16 meeting. Arts Visalia requested and received $5,000 for their Youth Art Education Program. Funds will be used for scholarships for at-risk youth in grades 6-8 for art classes. Arts Visalia currently recruits through Family Services, CASA, and Parenting Network. Arts Visalia will increase its outreach efforts to additional non-profit agencies who work with at-risk youth that would not otherwise have the exposure to art experiences. Through positive instruction and exposure to the gallery exhibitions at Arts Visalia, students will be encouraged to set goals for the completion of their art projects, which will be displayed in the gallery.

The Boys & Girls Club of Tulare County received $30,000 of the $57,599 it requested to expand the current programs offered to at-risk youth in Visalia. Their goals include increasing the number of at-risk youth grades 6-8 benefitting from their programs, expanding their Service Squad youth volunteer program, and incorporating a parent involvement component to their services. The Boys & Girls Club would also expand their service area by utilizing a portion of the grant for transportation from Divisadero Middle School and Mountain View Elementary.

ProYouth/Visalia PAL received $40,000 of the $75,000 it requested for Project X, which is a collaborative partnership between ProYouth and the Visalia Police Activities League at the Wittman Village Community Center. The goal is to make the Wittman Center a safe and welcoming environment for at-risk middle school students and to expand the amount of programming available to these youth. Both the ProYouth Insight Program and the PAL Leadership Program will be provided at this central location to increase the availability of these leadership and mentoring programs to a larger population of at-risk youth.

In addition to the three recipients, Police Chief Jason Salazar said the city received seven applications by the Nov. 11 deadline including Proteus Inc., Boy Scouts of America, CSET, and Arts Visalia. Members of the Visalia Multi-Agency Gang Intervention Task Force reviewed all applications for clarity and the strength of the program’s ability to meet the following grant objectives:

  • Target at-risk youth in grades 6-8.
  • Assist youth in envisioning their future, setting goals, and achieving those goals.
  • Facilitate parental involvement with their children.
  • Instill basic moral, ethical, and social behaviors that build strong character within the youth while at the same time, receiving examples of these characteristics from those administering the program.
  • Challenge youth mentally, physically, and constructively through technical and sports activities.
  • Teach and build leadership skills.
  • Ability to implement program work with a grant amount less than originally requested.

The $75,000 awarded is part of Measure N money set aside for youth programs. As part of the initial Measure N spending plan, the City Council directed 2% of the 10% Maintenance & Emerging Needs Fund to fund youth programs. The grant period runs from Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2018. Half of the grant funds were distributed in the days following the vote and the other half will be distributed after the Executive Committee receives a mid-year report from grant recipients by July 1.

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