A youth organization headquartered in Pella was recently selected to receive over a half million dollars in federal funding. Serve Our Youth, which works with at-risk young people, was chosen to receive a $567,419 grant. Executive Director Bernie Van Roekel says the announcement came as a bit of a surprise to the organization.
“My initial reaction was really one of shock and surprise because we had submitted our application in June, and we knew that the grant went into affect October 1,” said Van Roekel. “When we had not heard anything by the middle of September, my assumption was that we were not awarded the grant. So we were elated when we found out, but also a little bit shocked because we had anticipated that we were not going to receive it.”
The grant will originate from Polk County Youth Services in Des Moines, and Van Roekel says the target for the funding was very specific.
“It’s a Second Chance Juvenile Mentoring Initiative, and it will be specifically focused on kids who are re-entering the community after having been in a juvenile shelter or juvenile detention center.”
The organization was one of just eleven nationally to be awarded the grant out of 400 total applicants. Serve our Youth provides a variety of services to at-risk young people in a ten-county area in Central Iowa.