AMIKids Emerald Coast provides at-risk youth with GED prep and vocational skills.
AMIKids Emerald Coast, a recent IMPACT 100 grant winner, provides services to at-risk youth.
The nonprofit organization works with youth ages 16-24 while providing GED prep and vocational skills. Most of the students they see come from low-income homes and struggling families.
"Our kids need someone in their corner to get them ready for life," said Executive Director Audra Ray. "We believe all of our kids have potential and we want to help them reach that potential."
Ray began with the program 13 years ago after doing a graduate school practicum with the at-risk population and falling in love with it. Since then, she has worked in various roles within the organization before becoming executive director.
Until recently, the organization was under a contract with the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Okaloosa County School District for behavior modification and treatment. When the contract ended, the organization had to make budget cuts so their staff went from 12 people to two.
Even with two members, the organization still wanted to help so they applied for the IMPACT grant.
"We know how impactful it is for kids to be job ready," Ray said. "We won this same grant four years ago and it changed the program."
With the grant, the foundation will fund a career coordinator position and add another vehicle to take kids to job interviews.
The career coordinator will teach the youth skills such as how to dress for a job interview and help set up interviews. If they need a ride to the interview, the organization will take them and help with bus passes for future transportation.
"We help them overcome any hurdles they face to get to and from the job," Ray said. "Once they secure employment, we work with them for a year to make sure they are doing well."
The organization anticipates serving 50 kids each year in the future.
In order to better serve, staff goes to the youth by spending three days in Fort Walton Beach and two days in Crestview.
"We are just trying to get the word out that we are still here and we’re still serving kids," Ray said.
For more information, contact Ray at Emeraldcoastfirstname.lastname@example.org or at 850-978-5931