Challenges of Poverty-Stricken Community Diminished Through Award-Winning Programs

Pascagoula, Miss.

No matter the challenge or obstacle, Pascagoula, Miss., always aims for excellence among its youth population. With a 74 percent district poverty rate, the community sees the importance of providing programs that nourish youth on multiple levels—mentally, socially, and academically.

Destination Graduation! is a dropout prevention program for at-risk students that allows interaction with business partnerships and industry and service groups to give students the opportunity to get involved in real-world situations. The program won the 2009 National Dropout Prevention Network's Crystal Star Award, and the community is continuing to provide positive resources. For example, an unused school was converted into a Family Interactive Center where families have a safe place to learn and play together.

Pascagoula was the first certified "Child Friendly Community" on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in addition to being a winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition for its incredible work.

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