Take Stock in Children
In April of 2009, Sheriff Jeff Dawsy authorized his agency to assume sponsorship of Take Stock in Children, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing scholarships, mentors, educational support and college/career counseling to Florida’s low-income youth.
Enrolling students between the sixth and ninth grades, Take Stock in Children offers each child a fully paid college-tuition scholarship; a volunteer mentor to provide academic support and motivation; continuous monitoring and intervention services by a skilled student advocate (case manager); the active engagement of parents or guardians in the child’s academic and personal development; in addition to career and educational counseling.
For their part, selected students must sign a contract to stay in school, maintain good grades, demonstrate responsible behavior and remain crime- and drug-free, plus meet with a mentor once a week at the school where they’re enrolled.
Captain Dave DeCarlo, who oversees the sexual predator unit, special victims unit, internet crimes against children unit and school resource officer program for the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, serves as the program’s executive director. Pat Lancaster is the local program coordinator for both Citrus and Levy counties.
Since its inception in 1995, Take Stock in Children has impacted the lives of more than 16,000 low-income children with scholarships, mentors and hope. What makes the enterprise unique is its long-term approach to monitoring at-risk children, often over the course of 10 years. The program has students in every county in Florida, including 45 currently in Citrus County alone.
Take Stock in Children has a proven record of helping low-income children stay out of trouble, graduate from high school, attend college or a vocational school and become productive citizens. Take Stock in Children scholars’ high school graduation rate is 42% higher than Florida’s average, and 61% higher than their at-risk peer group. Take Stock in Children scholars’ college graduation rate is 25% higher than Florida’s average and is 140% higher than their at-risk peer group.
For many years, Sheriff’s Office employees have volunteered as mentors for the program. Given the agency’s longtime commitment to its award-winning school resource officer program and its partnership with the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, taking a more active role in Take Stock in Children seemed like a natural fit. Fund-raising for students’ scholarships is a big part of what program sponsors do. And the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office has to raise $8,000 for each scholarship awarded. A matching contribution from the Florida Prepaid College Foundation completes what amounts to a financial investment in Florida’s youth.
For the 2008-09 school year, the Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the FPCF, was able to fund three additional scholarships. The agency’s goal for the 2009-10 school year is to fund 10 college or vocational scholarships for deserving Citrus County students.
That’s where the community comes in. What better way to invest in the county’s future than by making a gift to Take Stock in Children? And the best part is, your donations stay in Citrus County and benefit the students right here at home.
Simply go to www.takestockinchildren.com/make_a_gift, and make your donation online. Don’t forget to click on “local program,” then “Citrus” under the drop-down menu, in the “Gift Designation” section. Or you can write a check, made payable to Take Stock in Children/CCSO, and mail it or drop it off at the Citrus County
Perhaps your organization would consider adopting this program as its charitable cause or making it the recipient of a one-time donation.
Won’t you please invest in a child's future by giving the gift of education? With your help, this local program can reach its goal of 10 scholarships ($80,000) for Citrus County’s at-risk, hard-working children.
For more information, contact either Cpt. DeCarlo at 352-249-2738, or Pat Lancaster at 352-422-2348.