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Youth First, Inc. will join with Joshua Academy to boost the mental health and well-being of its students thanks to a $25,000 grant from State Farm and the many Evansville area supporters who voted for their project.

Nationwide 145,000 people cast nearly four million votes in support of their favorite causes through the State Farm Neighborhood Assist® program, a crowd-sourced philanthropic process that empowers communities to address issues in their neighborhoods. The partnership between Youth First and Joshua Academy finished among the Top 40 vote-getters, each of which received $25,000 grants.

On Tuesday area State Farm agents presented the check, which will help launch Youth First Social Work services and prevention programs at Joshua Academy.

“State Farm is blessed to initiate funding for this partnership between the wonderful social workers at Youth First and the fantastic families and staff of Joshua Academy,” said Amy Higgs, State Farm Agent.

Joshua Academy is a public charter elementary school serving 250 students in Evansville.

“We call our students ‘the bright ones,’ because we know they are open to learning and shining with potential, but many are also dealing with serious challenges,” said Arveneda McDonald, Joshua Academy’s Principal. “A Youth First Social Worker in the building will help build their resilience, connect their families to resources, and support our teachers, too.”

Youth First partners with 91 schools in 11 Indiana counties to provide skilled social work support and prevention programs that strengthen youth and families.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from State Farm to boost the mental health and well-being of the students, parents, and educators at Joshua Academy,” said Parri O. Black, Youth First’s President & CEO. “This grant provides the seed money to launch the partnership, along with generous gifts from other donors, and we invite the community’s continued support to make sure these vital services remain in place for years to come.”

State Farm accepted 2,000 cause submissions and selected 200 finalists for the public voting that determined the Top 40. Over nine years, more than 340 causes have received a total of $9 million to enact change in their communities. Past local winners include Hangers, the EVSC’s clothing resource for students, and Little Lambs, which provides support for expectant mothers and parents of young children.

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