Tax credits aim to benefit Missouri youth by encouraging education

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 | 4:10 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Youth development and crime prevention programs in Missouri will receive nearly $1 million in tax credits this year. 

The Missouri Department of Economic Development announced Monday that seven not-for-profit organizations will receive tax credits through the Youth Opportunities Program. The program aims to support Missouri children at a local level through projects including youth activity centers, mentoring programs and helping them graduate. The approved organizations will receive a total of $955,848 in tax credits.

The program awards $6 million in tax credits each year and focuses on programs that will encourage education for Missouri youth, according to a news release.

Pathways Community Behavioral Healthcare in Rolla will receive $250,000 in tax credits for 2013. The organization, which offers resident and outpatient care for adolescents with substance-use disorders, is building a new group home that will cost $1.7 million, according to Linda Grgurich, Pathways president.

The tax credit will "provide a building dedicated to youth," Grgurich said. Currently, Pathways uses two separate homes for male and female participants. Grgurich said the new home would allow for more flexibility because they won't be limited by a set number of beds in the separate girls' and boys' homes. 

The Boys and Girls Club of Poplar Bluff will also receive a tax credit that will fund 30 percent of some of its after-school programs. In the last three years, the group has doubled the amount of kids it can serve. Each day, on average, they are able to serve more than 400 children at six different sites.

The tax credit "has been an integral part of us being able to grow our program," said Chris Rushin, executive director of the program in Poplar Bluff.

Its staple program is the Power Hour. The hour after a child walks through the door is spent working on homework with staff members.

"Our staff knows what their homework is, knows their spelling words, knows their reading assignments," Rushin said. He said he believes this hour is part of the reason why seven out of 10 kids that come to program are on their school's honor roll. 

"This is a great example of how government can work to help out its constituents, but especially the kids," Rushin said. "This money goes directly to the welfare of the kids."

Other recipients include Missouri Baptist Children's Home's Children and Family Ministries; Junior Achievement of Greater St. Louis; reStart, Inc.; Communities Healing Adolescent Depression and Suicide Coalition for Mental Health; and Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City.

Supervising editor is Stephanie Ebbs.

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