Youth First, Inc. is celebrating a $5,000 donation from 7 Sisters to strengthen the social and emotional well-being of students at Holy Rosary Catholic School.

The generous gift from 7 Sisters was presented to Youth First to support Walking for Dreams 2020, a family walk that helps local non-profit organizations raise much-needed funds. Youth First set a goal of raising $15,000 with Walking for Dreams to ensure Holy Rosary had access to a full-time Youth First Social Worker. The school has had a part-time Youth First Social Worker since 2005, and Holy Rosary principal Joan Fredrich was eager to expand to full-time service. The campaign was successful, thanks in large part to the 7 Sisters donation, along with support from the school, numerous Holy Rosary families and Youth First supporters.

Youth First’s school-based social work services and community programs are more critical than ever. Youth First Social Workers are embedded in school buildings to adapt and maintain vital connections with students and families. As the pandemic has continued, Youth First’s mental health professionals are utilizing confidential phone lines and virtual platforms to provide ongoing support whether or not school buildings are open.

The members of 7 Sisters value the professional mental health services provided by Youth First. One of the sisters, Casey Blake, says: “We are happy to be a part of this and excited to have a full-time Youth First Social Worker at Holy Rosary to support families and kids that are dealing with any mental health issues and stressors in their lives.”

7 Sisters is an Evansville-area nonprofit organization that brings awareness to the community through education and informative opportunities to eliminate the stigma of addiction and advocate for recovery options.

Members of the community are invited to participate with Youth First in Walking for Dreams 2021, which will take place on Sunday, May 23rd at the Tropicana Evansville Events Plaza along the riverfront. With a campaign goal of $30,000 this year, Youth First has already secured $2,000 in donations. Donations for Walking for Dreams can be made on Youth First’s website with the designation “Walking for Dreams.”

To learn more about Youth First services and programs or to make a donation to Youth First, visit To learn more about 7 Sisters, visit the organization’s Facebook page. To learn more about Walking for Dreams, visit

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.


Gift Supports the Social and Emotional Needs of Evansville Christian School Students

Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park has awarded a multi-year gift to Youth First, Inc. to strengthen the social and emotional well-being of pre-school – 5th grade students at Evansville Christian School.

Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park is committing $10,000 a year for three years as a challenge gift to help launch Youth First Social Work services at Evansville Christian School (ECS) for pre-school to 5th grades. The school is also paying a fee that covers a portion of the cost, but Youth First must still raise another $35,000 a year. Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park challenges anyone who cares about the healthy development of young people and Evansville Christian School to support Youth First, too.

United Companies President & CEO Ron Romain stated, “Youth First provides an invaluable service to this community. United Companies and Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park are proud to align with an organization that does so much good for young people in our region. Having social workers inside the school is important to the health and well-being of our students. It is our pleasure to announce a three-year commitment to Youth First that will aid in bringing a social worker to Evansville Christian School. It is our hope that this gift inspires others to contribute to make this new service sustainable for years to come.”

According to ECS Elementary School Principal Susie Masterson, “Evansville Christian School partnered with Youth First to provide a masters level social worker for our preschool through 5th grade students in January 2019. The impact of the support to our students, classroom teachers, and families was immediately evident.  We love our social worker and the positive impact she has made on our school by providing another caring adult who stands in the gap for children!”

Youth First President & CEO Parri O. Black stated, “Youth First is thrilled to accept Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park’s generous multi-year gift to boost the well-being of more young people in our community,” said Parri O. Black, President & CEO of Youth First, Inc. “We are also grateful that this challenge gift from Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park encourages more donors to support our new partnership with Evansville Christian School.”

Youth First embeds Master’s level social workers and prevention programs in schools to help increase the social and emotional well-being 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 in Indiana.

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.”

Drive a brand new Ford and give back to Youth First! During the month of December, 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 in December and invite the family to test drive for Youth First!