09/04/09 — Mentoring program receives $1.6 million federal stimulus grant

View Archive

Mentoring program receives $1.6 million federal stimulus grant

By Staff Reports
Published in News on September 4, 2009 1:46 PM

Smart Choices for Youth, a Wayne County-based program to help at-risk youths, has received a $1.6 million grant through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Sen. Kay R. Hagan announced Thursday that Smart Choices will receive a grant valued at $400,000 per year for the next four years to help with mentoring young people.

Daryl Woodard, the founder and executive director of Smart Choices, said the money will enable the program to continue its full workload despite reductions in state funding due to the state budget crisis.

"This grant is doing exactly what the stimulus package was designed to do -- save and create jobs. We are very thankful and consider ourselves fortunate and blessed to be able to continue our work helping at-risk youth in the community," Woodard said.

Sen. Hagan said the grant will boost the lives of both young people and those with whom they come into contact, whether at home, at school or at work.

"This grant is a great investment that will help expand successful programs that promote healthy, creative and productive activities for at-risk youth across our state. The Recovery Act is making it possible for important mentoring programs to continue helping North Carolina's youth," she said in a press release.

Smart Choices for Youth will use the grant to continue its "Recover Our Youth" program that uses one-on-one and group mentoring programs to foster education, job readiness, and employment skills and development in children ages 6 to 17 in Wayne and Wilson counties, Woodard said.

The Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention distributed the grant through its Local Youth Mentoring Initiative, which supports organizations around the country that develop and run at-risk youth mentoring programs.

Founded in 1989, Smart Choices for Youth was formally known as the Wayne County Youth Outreach Program.

The organization branch-ed out to include Wilson County in the mid-1990s.

It changed its name in 2005.

The program targets at-risk youth, providing after school programs, mentoring for children of prisoners and the Governor's One-on-One volunteer program and SOS (Support Our Students), a free after-school program in Wilson County.