October 12, 2010

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors today approved a $20,000 boost to the Step Up Service Learning Grant Program – a move that will allow the popular program to be implemented at middle schools countywide.

The Step Up Service Learning Grant Program is designed to fund school-based projects that target the involvement of school-aged youth who are gang-affiliated or at-risk of joining a gang. Since 2008, 18 high schools from throughout Tulare County have participated in the program. The Supervisors’ approval allocated funding for service learning projects at the middle school level.

“There is no doubt that the Step Up Service Learning Grant Program will make an immediate impact on the middle school youth who will participate,” said District Three Supervisor Phil Cox. “Giving our youth the opportunity to participate in service learning projects is an effective way to positively influence them before gangs can reach them.”

Supervisor Cox said the $20,000 will be used for five selected schools – one $4,000 grant in each Supervisorial district - to create student led projects that address gang involvement, crime and delinquency. Grant applications for middle schools will be available in November and will be due in January. Selected projects will begin in March 2011 and end in May 2011. The Tulare County Youth Commission will review the submitted grant applications and recommend to the Board of Supervisors which middle schools should receive funding.

Tulare County Youth Commission Chairwoman Janis Lehmann said the Step Up Service Learning Grant Program has already proven to be a success at the middle school level. In June, eight Green Acres Middle School students spent part of the summer beautifying their campus through the serving learning grant program.

“The Board of Supervisors has made a firm commitment to providing positive experiences to some of Tulare County’s most troubled youth,” Lehmann said. “Allocating additional funding to support middle school service learning demonstrates that continued effort.”

Supervisor Cox said the success of the Green Acres Middle School pilot program prompted the Board of Supervisors to consider providing additional funding.

“This grant program, at the high school level, has proven to be a major success,” Supervisor Cox said. “We want that same success at the middle school level.”

For more information on the Step Up Service Learning Grant Program, please contact Youth Commission staff Jeff Forbes at 559-636-5000 or jforbes@co.tulare.ca.us.