POLK COUNTY — Polk County’s Family & Community Outreach department, in partnership with the Nyman Foundation, recently awarded seven mini-grants to local efforts.

The Youth Mini-Grant opportunity was created in response to the results of the 2017 Youth Activities Interest Survey that was distributed to middle and high school students in Central, Dallas, Falls City and Perrydale school districts.

The top activities ranged from sports activities, leadership mentor activities, clubs, and employment. 

This grant opportunity helped partners in the community apply for up to $1,000 to create programs based on the survey data.

“We had a couple of different criteria in mind when we were actually making the decision,” said Abby Warren, Polk County prevention coordinator. “We wanted to make sure (the funding) wasn’t all just concentrated in one area, but that we shared the love across the county as much as we could. We also really wanted to make sure that our applicants had a strong connection to our survey.”

The survey was based on one that was conducted in 2011, and Warren says the county hopes to make the survey an annual or bi-annual.

The following programs were chosen out of 33 applications:

1. The Gate Youth Association will be adding archery, the top-rated activity overall, and guitar lessons, top rated in music category activity, to their existing youth programming.

2. Robert Garcia, of West Salem, is launching a soccer program, GRASSP for elementary and high school students. This program will allow high school students to mentor younger students throughout the program. Mentorship was a top-rated activity on the survey.

3. Dallas Church is starting a six-string guitar program, top-rated in music category. This program would allow community youth to participate in free guitar lessons.

4. LaCreole Middle School is adding art therapy group classes. This concept came from a student who noticed a need in her school, and an instructor responded to that need.

5. Morrison Campus Alternative School in Dallas has proposed a self-defense course, one of the top-rated activities on the survey.

6. Musical Independence shop will offer free music lessons multiple days per week from an experienced musician, and an internship opportunity for a high school student in their storefront retail section.

7. Praise Assembly Church in Monmouth is holding a family movie night open to all community members, a highly rated activity on the survey.

“If anyone has any questions about the survey, I would love to answer those questions,” Warren said. “If anyone is excited about creating or starting a program in their community, we would love to meet and figure out a way to support that effort.”

Warren may be contacted at warren.abby@co.polk.or.us.

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