Gift Supports the Social and Emotional Needs of Students in Orange County

In a presentation at Orleans Elementary School on July 30, Hoosier Uplands awarded $20,000 to Youth First, Inc. to strengthen the social and emotional well-being of students in Orange County.

Youth First partners with school districts 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 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 growing social and emotional needs of students.

“Hoosier Uplands recognizes the immense importance and need for mental health services for at-risk children in our schools,” said David Miller, CEO.  “In today’s world our schools, parents, and grandparents must work together to make sure children have the best resources available to them to handle the challenges they face on a daily basis. We are very pleased to be able to support Youth First in its work with Orleans and Springs Valley Schools.”

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. Hoosier Uplands’ investment is critical to achieving Youth First’s mission. Working together, we can protect and heal the hearts of more young people and their families in Orange County.”

This school year, 1,339 students have benefitted from a new partnership between Youth First and Orleans Community Schools and Springs Valley Community Schools. Both Orange County school corporations have welcomed a Youth First Social Worker in their buildings to serve the social and emotional well-being of students. Youth First also launched two Family First programs for students and families in Orange County.


Youth First embeds Master’s level social workers and prevention programs in schools to help increase the hope and resilience of young people and their families. Youth First Social Workers are specialized mentors for students and prevention coaches for parents and teachers. Their presence also contributes to a healthier and safer school environment. Youth First currently partners with 76 schools across 10 counties in Indiana.


At Orleans Elementary School, Youth First Social Worker Brandy Terrell works hand in hand with students, parents, teachers, and school administrators to help youth develop a mindset, a skill set, and a social support system that builds resilience in all areas of life. Principal Jimmy Ellis says the value of having a Youth First Social Worker in his building is immeasurable. “We feel very fortunate to be partnering with Youth First to place a social worker in our elementary school. Having Brandy Terrell in our building working with students has greatly benefited our school. She has provided services to students to enhance their emotional well-being and to help improve their academic performance. We look forward to continuing this partnership with Youth First for years to come,” says Ellis.


Youth First Social Worker Kacie Shipman serves students at Springs Valley Elementary School and Springs Valley High School. By working with Ms. Shipman, young people are learning how to manage emotions, cope with challenges, and motivate themselves to achieve their goals. Superintendent Dr. Trevor Apple says, “Our partnership with Youth First has been such a blessing to our students, families, and teachers. Our social worker, Kacie Shipman, has made a positive impact on the social and behavioral well-being of our students. Teachers and administrators are thrilled with the partnership we have developed with Youth First!”


Youth First launched two Family First programs this spring for Orange County families. Family First is a 10-week group program designed for parents and caregivers along with their children and teens. Families build on improving family relationships, parenting skills, and youth social and life skills. The program welcomes single-parent, blended, and traditional families. Both Orleans Elementary School and Springs Valley Elementary School were excited to offer the Family First program for the first time this year to their families.


With a mission of strengthening youth and families, Youth First celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018. Youth First President & CEO Parri O. Black states, “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. Youth First is here to help, listen, and provide a systematic approach to prevention in partnership with educators and parents.


Our school partners, along with the support we receive from the community, are critical to achieving Youth First’s mission.”

The launch of the Youth First prevention model was the result of the Lilly Endowment’s Comprehensive Counseling Initiative for Indiana K-12 students awarded to eligible school corporations. Sustaining the services into future years will come from school partner fees and the community supporting Youth First with donations and private investment. Youth First will need to raise $90,000 annually from Orange County citizens to support its school-based social work program.


Black explains there is more interest for Youth First beginning with the 2019-2020 school year: “We are thrilled that Paoli Community Schools are prepared to partner with Youth First if we are able to secure the funding. To fulfill their desire for a Youth First Social Worker embedded in Paoli school buildings, we will need to raise another $45,000 annually. We invite anyone who cares about the healthy development of young people and Orange County schools to support Youth First.”

To make a donation to Youth First, visit www.youthfirstinc.org and donate online.

Gift Supports the Social and Emotional Needs of Students in Multiple Indiana Counties

April 30, 2019

Old National Bank Foundation has committed $25,000 per year for two years to Youth First, Inc. to strengthen the social and emotional well-being of students in Daviess, Gibson, Orange, Posey, and Vanderburgh counties. A check presentation was held on April 30 at Youth First’s downtown Evansville office.

Sara Miller, Old National Bank’s Southern Region Chief Executive Officer stated, “We are proud to partner with Youth First so that kids in our communities receive the services that they need. This $50,000 grant will help fund those efforts and ONB is proud to play a part in that development.” 

Youth First partners with school districts 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 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 impact is driving growth, with more schools seeking Youth First’s help to address the growing social and emotional needs of students.

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,” said Parri O. Black, President & CEO of Youth First, Inc. “Old National Bank Foundation’s continued investment is critical to achieving Youth First’s mission. Working together, we can protect and heal the hearts of more young people and their families in these counties.”

Youth First, Inc. is pleased to announce that Adam Novello has been named Regional Development Officer effective October 8, 2018. Adam lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and will handle fundraising and advocacy efforts in Monroe, Morgan, and Orange counties.

Adam brings with him nearly five years of philanthropy, event planning, and relationship management experience. Adam was formerly Curator of Education at South Bend’s HealthWorks! Kids’ Museum. Previously, he worked at The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis. Adam is a graduate of Indiana University.

In his new role at Youth First, Adam joins a growing development team that is responsible for marketing, event, volunteer, and philanthropic efforts across the organization’s ten-county service area. He will manage advocates and supporters, as well as oversee all fundraising efforts, to ensure Youth First fulfills its mission.

Youth First protects and heals the hearts of children and strengthens families, resulting in more positive, productive citizens and a stronger, healthier community. The agency is best known for embedding highly trained Youth First Social Workers who act as specialized mentors in area schools, assisting students, parents, and educators. It also provides Family First and other proven programs in life skills training and substance abuse prevention.