Support Youth First by purchasing half pot raffle tickets now! The winner will be drawn on September 5, 2021. Raffle tickets can be purchased from Youth First staff and board members, at the Youth First office Monday through Friday 8am to 12pm, or by filling out the contact form here.

Evansville, IN – United Way of Southwestern Indiana (UWSWI) is thrilled to announce an investment of $400,000 into improving local mental health care access for low-income residents. The Mental Health Pathway Grant is the first funding opportunity for mental health services since UWSWI shifted its focus to address root causes of poverty and help families overcome barriers to economic sufficiency. Research shows a link between poverty and mental health challenges. Likewise, there is evidence that mental health struggles prevent individuals from escaping poverty, creating a vicious cycle. A significant increase in demand for mental health care services is creating a strain on local providers, which is further limiting access.

Funding will be invested into the following local nonprofit applicants: Catholic Charities will receive $177,840 to increase the hours and capacity of a part-time counselor. In addition, grant funds will help underwrite the financial loss of providing a sliding scale fee model to low-income clients who otherwise cannot afford mental health care. Youth First is awarded $222,160 to help underwrite the cost of hiring additional social work staff. The funds will enable Youth First to hire a social worker fluent in Spanish, a Substitute School Support Specialist who will fill the gap when school social workers are absent, and a Clinical Supervisor to support the increase in capacity. Youth First identified a gap in service for students whose primary language is Spanish.

This grant will help extend service to students who were previously underserved. UWSWI is striving to develop a best-in-class grant evaluation process, which includes a thorough evaluation by local experts in the respective Pathway, as well as in financial operations. Scott Branam, CAO of Deaconess Cross Pointe commented, “With the overwhelming demand we are currently seeing in our nation and community for behavioral health, we are very excited United Way is dedicating funds for this critical service. As a member of the review taskforce, it was impressive to see the time and energy put into the process, as well as the rigor that went into the proposal review and selection of grantees. It’s a shame there is not enough money to fund every application.”

For more information on United Way’s Pathways to Potential, visit unitedwayswi.org/pathwaygrants.

Foundation Recognized for Investment in Morgan County Youth

Youth First, Inc., presented the “Heart of Youth First” plaque to the Kendrick Foundation on Thursday, May 19, at The Brickhouse on Main in Martinsville.

The “Heart of Youth First” is awarded to organizations who have demonstrated a significant commitment to youth mental health, strong families, and community well-being through their support of Youth First’s model of service.

The Kendrick Foundation has played a primary role in bringing Youth First’s award-winning programs to Morgan County youth and families. Since 2018, with financial support totaling over $200,000, the Kendrick Foundation has galvanized partnerships between Youth First, the MSD of Martinsville, and Mooresville Consolidated School Corporation. More than 1,300 students at Bell Intermediate Academy in Martinsville and Paul Hadley Middle School in Mooresville have access to a full-time Youth First Social Worker in their school building, along with a toolkit of programs to boost resiliency and other valuable life skills.

Keeley Wright, Executive Director of the Kendrick Foundation, remarked, “Supporting the mental health of children and youth will require a whole of society effort to address longstanding challenges, strengthen the resilience of young people, and support their families and communities. We are profoundly grateful for the work of Youth First to make vital mental health services, resources, and supports more accessible for our youth and families and for their efforts to move upstream and prevent substance misuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success.”

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About Youth First, Inc.:

Youth First’s mission is to strengthen youth and families through evidence-based programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success. Youth First partners with 107 schools across 13 Indiana counties to provide 78 Master’s level social workers who assess needs, develop and implement prevention plans, and connect students and their families to vital resources. Youth First also offers community programs involving parents and caregivers to strengthen families. For more information about Youth First, please visit youthfirstinc.org.

About Kendrick Foundation:  Formed from the proceeds of the sale of the Kendrick Memorial Hospital in 2001, the mission of the Kendrick Foundation is to financially support education and initiatives that improve the physical and mental health of Morgan County residents. To learn more about how the Kendrick Foundation is leading health initiatives for Morgan County, please visit kendrickfoundation.org.

Valero Corporation has awarded $20,000 to Youth First, Inc. to strengthen the mental health and well-being of students in Posey County.

The grant will allow continued support for students at West Elementary School, St. Matthew Catholic School, and St. Philip Catholic School in Mt. Vernon; South Terrace Elementary School in Blairsville; and North Elementary School, North Posey Jr. High School, and North Posey High School in Poseyville.

Youth First partners with 107 schools across 13 Indiana counties to embed skilled social workers in school buildings, where they become specialized mentors for students and prevention coaches for parents and teachers. Youth First Social Workers build caring relationships, foster readiness for positive change, and boost resiliency along with other valuable life skills.

Research shows these protective factors are the keys to effective prevention of negative outcomes for young people. The organization’s positive work and strategies are driving growth, with more schools seeking Youth First’s help to address the growing need for mental health supports for students.

“We’re driven to make a difference for our community,” said Chris Rhea, Plant Manager of the Valero Mt. Vernon Ethanol Plant. “We’re proud to continue supporting Youth First and all they do to improve children’s lives in Posey County.”

Youth First President & CEO Parri O. Black stated, “Our children are growing up in a complex and challenging world that puts them at greater risk for substance use, suicide, violence and harmful behaviors, and the stress of the pandemic will affect the mental health of our youth for years to come. The continued investment of Valero Corporation is critical to achieving Youth First’s mission of cared-for kids. Working together, we can provide Posey County youth with the support and coping tools needed to become thriving adults.”

Kendrick Foundation has awarded $61,476 to Youth First, Inc. to strengthen the mental health and well-being of students in Morgan County.

The grant will allow continued support for students at Bell Intermediate Academy in Martinsville and Paul Hadley Middle School in Mooresville. Youth First partners with 107 schools across 13 Indiana counties to embed skilled social workers in school buildings, where they become specialized mentors for students and prevention coaches for parents and teachers. Youth First Social Workers build caring relationships, foster readiness for positive change, and boost resiliency along with other valuable life skills.

Research shows these protective factors are the keys to effective prevention of negative outcomes for young people. The organization’s positive work and strategies are driving growth, with more schools seeking Youth First’s help to address the growing need for mental health supports for students.

“Since 2018, the Kendrick Foundation has invested in Youth First programs,” stated Keylee Wright, Kendrick Foundation Executive Director, “and we are seeing results. Last year, Youth First Social Workers managing caseloads in two Morgan County middle schools achieved 100% follow through on student referrals for outside mental health support, and the spring Strengthening Families program facilitated by Youth First saw seven families (26 participants) achieve 100% completion of the 10-week program.”

Youth First President & CEO Parri O. Black stated, “Our children are growing up in a complex and challenging world that puts them at greater risk for substance use, suicide, violence and harmful behaviors, and the stress of the pandemic will affect the mental health of our youth for years to come. The continued investment of the Kendrick Foundation is critical to achieving Youth First’s mission of cared-for kids. Working together, we can provide Morgan County youth with the support and coping tools needed to become thriving adults.”

Car dealership’s on-going “$10 per Test Drive” television advertising campaign continues to support local charities and causes 

D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln presented a check for $2,500 to Youth First, Inc. on Wednesday, February 2nd 10:00 am.  The presentation occured at the D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln dealership, located at 1100 Walnut Street, which is just south of the Highway 41/Lloyd Expressway Interchange. Each month, D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln selects a local charity to support. It then awards $10 per test drive (up to $2,500) to the charitable organization. Representatives from D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln will be presented the check to representatives from Youth First, Inc to support Youth First’s mission of strengthening Indiana youth and families.

Drive a brand new Ford and give back to Youth First! During the month of January, D-Patrick’s Evansville Ford Dealership will donate $10 to Youth First for every test drive. Visit their Evansville Ford Dealership online! Please set a date this month and invite the family to test drive for Youth First!

A $10,000 grant award was presented to Youth First, Inc. by The Community Foundation of Morgan County on Tuesday, December 7. The grant will allow continued support for students at Bell Intermediate Academy in Martinsville and Paul Hadley Middle School in Mooresville. Youth First partners with 105 schools across 12 Indiana counties to embed skilled social workers in school buildings, where they become specialized mentors for students and prevention coaches for parents and teachers. Youth First Social Workers build caring relationships, foster readiness for positive change, and boost resiliency along with other valuable life skills.

Research shows these protective factors are the keys to preventing addiction, suicide, violence, and similar outcomes for young people. The organization’s positive outcomes are driving growth, with more schools seeking Youth First’s help to address the mental health needs of students and best equip them for success.

Ryan Setterlof, Principal of Bell Intermediate Academy says, “Our Youth First Social Worker has really made connections with our students and their families to meet their needs. It’s a huge support system, for not only our students, but for the families and our staff as well. We’re very thankful to have Youth First in our building.” 


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Nationwide over 3 million votes were cast in support of favorite causes through the State Farm Neighborhood Assist® program, a crowd-sourced philanthropic process that empowers communities to address issues in their neighborhoods. Thanks to the many supporters who voted, Youth First and Hangers both finished among the Top 40 vote-getters nationwide, with each organization receiving a $25,000 grant.

Youth First will use their grant toward embedding Youth First Social Workers and prevention programs in 12 additional Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) schools. Youth First partners with 105 schools across 12 Indiana counties to provide skilled social work support and prevention programs that build resiliency and strengthen the mental health of youth.

Hangers serves 3,000 EVSC students annually with clothing and basic hygiene products. Specifically, the organization will use this grant to fund coats, shoes, and uniform clothing for 250 students. This level of funding will have a ripple effect, leaving a positive impact on student families, school educators, and staff.

“State Farm is excited to see two incredible nonprofit organizations in our community receiving this tremendous support. The voting was nationwide, yet Youth First and Hangers supporters made it happen for Evansville and the surrounding region! We are blessed to secure a total of $50,000 in funding that ultimately supports our community’s kids,” said Amy Higgs, State Farm Agent.

State Farm accepted 2,000 cause submissions and selected 200 finalists for the public voting that determined the Top 40. Over ten years, more than 380 causes have received a total of $10 million to enact change in their communities.

“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 these additional EVSC schools,” said Parri O. Black, Youth First’s President & CEO. “This funding allows us to reach more students and families, and we invite the community’s continued support to make sure these vital services remain in place for years to come.”

Dave Schutte, Director of Hangers, says, “Many students face hardships as they work towards an education, and the need for clothing is present at all times. We are grateful for the State Farm Neighborhood Assist® grant that will help us provide clothing for 250 additional EVSC students. We are also grateful to our many supporters who voted each day.”

In a presentation on October 25, AstraZeneca awarded $10,000 to Youth First, Inc. to strengthen the mental health and well-being of students in Posey County.

Femi D-Etti, Vice President and General Manager at AstraZeneca’s Mt. Vernon site, says, “We are committed to partnering in the communities where we live and work. We are grateful for the opportunity to support Youth First and the important work they do in schools to improve the health of young people.”

Youth First partners with school districts across Indiana to embed social workers in school buildings, where they become specialized mentors for students and prevention coaches for parents and teachers. Youth First Social Workers build caring relationships, foster readiness for positive change, and boost resiliency along with equipping students with valuable life skills. Their presence also contributes to a healthier and safer school environment.

Youth First Social Workers are coaching kids to thrive. Research shows that when equipped early in life with the protective factors that combine to create resilience, young people can successfully navigate the increasingly complex world that awaits them as adults. Long term, communities will benefit from a healthier, happier, more employable workforce.

“AstraZeneca’s mission to deliver life-changing medicines parallels Youth First’s mission to change lives by strengthening the mental health of youth. Together, AstraZeneca and Youth First are helping youth and families face life’s current challenges and emerge with resilient mindsets and real hope for the future. We are grateful to AstraZeneca for this grant that allows Youth First to sustain critical mental health supports for Posey County kids,” says Youth First Vice President of Philanthropy Julie Hoon.

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