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The members of the Jennings County Youth Foundation’s (JCYF) planning task force announces their findings and strategic plan. This project is the result of months of planning, developing and refining of goals, objectives, timeframes, and strategies designed to enhance the well-being of the youth and their families of Jennings County and made possible by the non-monetary grant received in September 2014 from the Indiana Youth Institute (IYI). As part of the grant, JCYF received 40 hours of professional consulting services to assist in identifying the future focus of the organization using surveys to gain the community’s input and other assessment tools.

The youth foundation would like to thank everyone for their participation and support of the community assessment survey. Approximately 136 adults and 246 youth responded to the survey and provided valuable input. Nearly 86% of the adults feel there are not enough adequate and affordable programs for the youth in Jennings County while 64% of the youth feel that there are plenty of opportunities. Both groups agree though that they would like to see more academic- i.e. tutoring, reading, learning, and college prep (68% adults and 45% youth) and music or arts programs (62% adults and 45% youth). They also agree that the community needs a centralized location for these programs and services (86% adults and 80% youth). Of the 246 youth that responded 50% gave detailed reasons why: “A youth center with mentoring would help a lot of at risk youth and prevent crime”,” Something productive for the youth of this community to have access to is necessary for the growth and betterment of the community as a whole that we all desire”,” Jennings County needs a centralized youth center to help keep kids busy after school and to help make future resumes look nice with after school activities”, “Our county is the only one in southern Indiana without a youth center, or boys and girls club or YMCA.”

The survey results were also used to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of the community and of the youth foundation to establish its strategies and objectives. Results showed the foundation’s strengths are a positive image, focus and determination, meeting a need in the community, and an excellent database of available resources including existing facilities for programs and services. Opportunities as a result of this process include: hiring an executive director to focus on grants and funding, coordinating with other youth organizations, providing additional community-minded and social service opportunities and helping to define youth center and the details of its operation in the community. A few of the weaknesses and/or threats in the community include: many duplication of services, not focusing on enhancing/promoting the services already offered, such as Purdue Extension, United Way, school association, the library, parks and recreation etc., existing facilities are controlled by the school and are always in use/never available, there are no financial resources in the community to build and operate a youth center as evidenced when the YMCA attempted to do the same thing several years ago but at least they were providing programs. In addition, the results revealed that the youth foundation is still relatively unknown in the community and its focus and purpose is not understood.

The youth foundation’s board of directors agreed and adopted the following mission and vision statements as part of its strategic plan: The mission is to promote quality affordable activities for youth in Jennings County and the vision for the future is to partner with a broad network of organizations that meet the identified needs and interests of youth in the community. Its four strategic objectives are 1. People and Learning – hire an executive director, recruit and engage a board of strong community leaders, bring training to the community to develop youth leaders and good volunteers. 2. Internal Processes – raise awareness of mission so community understands the importance of partnerships and engagement opportunities, communicate to the public the results of community assessment survey, update internal documents consistent with new mission as a result of survey and strategic planning process. 3. Financials – raise funds, make fund-raising a priority to cover operating expenses and build up unrestricted funds. 4. Customers – build up the organizations that already service the youth and partner with them, community outreach; begin the conversation.

At its annual board meeting, the foundation elected three new members, two of whom served as part of the strategic planning process. They are Jaime Greathouse- Jennings County Supervisor at Advocates for Children, Ryan Wooley- Digital Marketing Specialist at IUPUC and Annalee McClintock- Owner/Director Imagination Daycare and Preschool and Latchkey of Jennings County schools. Elected as returning officers for 2015-2016 are Kelly Hatton-President, Sunshine Galliher-Vice President, Rusty Warlick-Treasurer and newly elected LeAna Matern-Secretary. Kelly is the Director of Advancement Services at Hanover College, Sunshine is the Training Coordinator at Grote Industries, Rusty is a CPA for the United States Government and LeAna is the Assistant Director of Resource Development at IvyTech Foundation. All of the board members and officers are volunteers that are generously donating their time, talent and resources to the youth and the community. Take a stand for the youth of Jennings County and join their efforts. Sign up for the mailing list at www.jcyf.in/list.php to receive important updates and opportunities to volunteer.

About the Jennings County Youth Foundation: The JCYF is a 501c3 non-profit organization, founded in 2010, that seeks to raise awareness, offer hope and provide opportunities for the youth of Jennings County. Kelly Hatton, President of Jennings County Youth Foundation is available to answer questions and provide additional information. kelly.hatton@jcyf.in (812) 718-2088 (organization).
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