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Goodwill grant to help at-risk teens

By Staff | Dec 12, 2009

Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida was a recent benefactor of federal stimulus dollars to help mentor at-risk teens.
The federal government awarded Goodwill International $19 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Kirsten O’Donnell, director of public relations, said that amount was split among 56 Goodwill stores nationwide.
The overall grant to Goodwill came from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
“The actual awarding of it didn’t happen until the last day of October,” she said.
Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida was provided with $299,000 to create GoodGuides, a mentoring program for at-risk youth. The new program launches Jan.11.
“It is basically to provide adult mentors to be strong role models, encourage students to stay in school, to participate in activities and career exploration,” said O’Donnell.
Although there are many details to finalize, the GoodGuides program will be open to at-risk youth between the ages of 12 and 17. It will provide resources to help students in school to improve their performance and develop their own career plans.
“We have been having a lot of meetings with agencies in the area to identify possible students and mentors,” said O’Donnell. “We have a good relationship with several of the schools in our area through another youth program we do.”
Goodwill currently oversees High School High Tech, a career exploration program for students with disabilities, and they recently chartered the L.I.F.E. Academy Charter School.
The federal grant only lasts two years, said O’Donnell, and Goodwill is hoping to continue the program to keep teens on the right track.
“I assume, depending on funding, we will probably have to determine that (if it is permanent),” she said.