The new partnership between the Catawba Indian Nation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of York County appears to be a winner for all concerned.
David Carriker, chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs, announced last week that a new teen center will open on the Catawba reservation in January. The new center, which will be ready when students go back to school after the long holiday break, will be located in the tribe’s Senior Center at the reservation.
It will be paid for by a three-year, $500,000 grant from the Justice Department’s Tribal Youth Program. About 75 percent of that money will be used to pay for various programs.
The Boys & Girls Clubs also will hire four people to oversee the center at the reservation, which is projected to serve about 50 teens. Carriker, however, hopes to attract more members to the center in the future.
Catawba teens will spend three days at their own center and two days at the Rock Hill center at the Flexible Learning Center off Flint Street Extention. The Catawba teens will have access to the Boys and Girls Clubs’ programs, including homework help and tutoring, mentoring and social and sports activities.
The idea for the partnership grew from conversations between Carriker and Catawba Chief Bill Harris. Harris has been concerned that many young people on the reservation lack the educational credentials and job skills to join the work force and become productive citizens.
The Boys and Girls Clubs seems like the perfect match for that project. The Rock Hill Teen Center, which has served more than 250 teens since opening in August 2012, offers nationally recognized programs that not only help young people navigate middle and high school and teach them useful job skills, but also give them the opportunity to socialize in a safe setting with their peers.
That could be a significant benefit for Catawba teens who might not have the chance to meet and work with other young people outside the close circle on the reservation. This partnership also will help expose Rock Hill teens to the culture and customs of the Catawbas.
Tribal spokeswoman Elizabeth Harris said that while the Catawbas have several job training programs with existing businesses, this will be the first partnership with a nonprofit group. The goal of the partnership is to help youth “stay out of trouble, stay in school.” she said. “This will open up the world to our teens.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of York County have a long local history of helping teens at a vulnerable time in their lives, offering not only help with education and job training but also a chance for fellowship and peer-to-peer learning.
Congratulations to officials with both Catawbas and the Boys & Girls Clubs on building this valuable new partnership.