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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Foellinger Foundation investing $500,000 in strengthening leaders who work with youth, families

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Funding will help Great Kids make Great Communities enhance training it offers.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017 10:30 am

Foellinger Foundation will invest a combined total of $500,000 over the next three years to help the Great Kids make Great Communities program create a new Youth and Family Development Academy and to bring in nationally recognized experts and researchers for lectures.

The goal is to provide better knowledge and resources for local people who work with youth so they can help young people succeed.

Foellinger Foundation planned to announce the grant at a news conference Tuesday morning. With the grant, the foundation will have invested more than $2.2 million in the Great Kids organization's work in Allen County, a news release said.

Great Kids has been working locally for about 18 years to enhance the knowledge and resources available to people who work with youth, the news release said. The training it offers, which emphasizes scientific, evidence-based practices, is availalbe to staff serving youth at social-service agencies, faith-based organizations, and parents and community groups.

The Youth and Family Development Academy will allow Great Kids to provide training for leaders who serve youth and families via service sectors such as social services, juvenile justice, law enforcement, education, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, businesses and more, the news release said.

“Our vision with the academy is to help leaders in all areas of our community better understand the science of youth development," Allen Superior Court Judge Charles F. Pratt, the family relations judge who founded Great Kids make Great Communities, said in the news release.

“We have the science. We know what works," Pratt said. "Now the challenge is to take that knowledge and move it into sound policy and practice in Allen County, allowing us to achieve better outcomes for our children and families.”

Great Kids will develop the academy's curriculum in partnership with Shay Bilchik, the founder and director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy in Washington, D.C.

Prior to joining Georgetown, Bilchik served as president and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America and as the administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in the U.S. Department of Justice during President Bill Clinton's administration.

The Foellinger grant also will allow Great Kids to expand its lecture series and better align it with academy programming, the news release said. Nationally recognized leaders and academics will present "high-level educational concepts," while local experts will help youth workers, parents and others put concepts to use in specific focus areas.

"With decades of experience and the respect of the nonprofit community, Great Kids is uniquely positioned to prepare leaders to best serve children and families in our community," Cheryl Taylor, Foellinger Foundation president, said in the news release. "Foellinger is proud to support the development of leaders in this important work."

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