Cashalie, once a struggling teen girl from South Palm Beach County, has made huge strides toward a brighter future through an innovative pilot program at the Milagro Center.
Now, the Center’s Ladies Empowerment and Achievement Program (L.E.A.P.)is poised to make a difference with hundreds of other girls thanks to a $100,000 grant from Impact 100 Palm Beach County.
L.E.A.P., which focuses on underserved teen girls will expand to assist 150 at-risk teens its first year, and 250 girls in its second year. The funding will allow L.E.A.P. to grow in other directions as well, offering more resources to both program participants and staff.
Milagro Center was chosen by Impact 100 Palm Beach County, a membership group of more than 600 women who collectively fund grants each year to local nonprofits for its high-impact initiatives. It was one of six 2021 $100,000 grant award recipients.
Milagro hopes to improve other girls’ lives with the same tools used by the pilot program to help Cashalie. “Since enrolling in L.E.A.P., I have transformed from the inside out,” Cashalie said. “I know that I can — and will — have a bright future. Because of our L.E.A.P. female mentors, I no longer struggle with social anxiety, I can be myself, I’ve earned great grades, and I have learned to love me.”
The Impact 100 grant will enable the organization to:
- Expand L.E.A.P.’s impact from Delray Beach’s most poverty-stricken neighborhoods into other underserved communities throughout South Palm Beach County;
- Enrich Milagro Center’s resources by bringing in a Youth Impact Leader, teachers and career counselors;
- Fund group enrichment activities and emergency needs;
- And strengthen the program throughout South Palm Beach County during its first year with community involvement for shadowing, internships, and mentoring opportunities.
“We are tremendously thrilled and honored to have received this incredible funding,” said Milagro Center President and CEO Barbara Stark, who was on hand to receive the award during Impact 100 Palm Beach County’s 2021 Grand Awards presentation in spring. “We’re beyond excited for the hundreds of at-risk teen girls in South Palm Beach County whose lives will be changed through our innovative L.E.A.P. program.” In a video presentation to the Impact 100 membership, Stark outlined the urgent need for the program, pointing out that 40 percent of youth living in poverty drop out of high school.
“Women and girls are the heartbeat of Palm Beach County – in fact, the heartbeat of our world,” she said. “Economically challenged, academically at-risk teenage girls desperately need support, guidance, and positive female role models to become empowered to understand and to reach their full potential. Add in a devastating pandemic and we’ve dramatically increased the urgency.”
The Palm Beach County L.E.A.P. will introduce these vulnerable young women to career opportunities and pair them with successful heart-centered female role models.
Stark noted that enrollees will be able to explore their talents and pursue new skills, build their academic abilities so they can go on to college or specialized
training, and become self-sufficient, allowing them to finally break out of the cycle of poverty.
“We know that many of the young women participating in L.E.A.P. PBC will become our future community leaders
— perhaps future Impact 100 members
— leading abundant successful lives,” she said.
Stark thanked her Milagro Center team for their efforts in helping to secure the grant. And she added an extra shoutout to Glenn Mueller, Director of Grants Administration, for his expertise and
diligence in the application process.
Stark’s presentation concluded with a quote from legendary poet Maya Angelou: “Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”
Countless at-risk teen girls will now be able to live those words and L.E.A.P. into the future, thanks to the Impact 100 Palm Beach County grant.