School board approves new at-risk youth assistance for high schools

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By Brian Slattery

A new organization will begin assisting Brunswick County’s at-risk high school students in the new year.

Men and Women United for Youth and Families (MWUYF) received approval from the Brunswick County Board of Education Dec. 4 to begin working with the four county high schools to help students receive educational and employment training.

Randolph Keaton, director of MWUYF, said the nonprofit organization has offered education and employment training to Bladen, Columbus and Brunswick residents out of their office in Delco for the past 10 years.

As part of a program funded by the Workforce Investment Act, they received $135,000 to bring programs into Columbus and Brunswick county schools.

“We are a contract agency to manage the program, half in Brunswick and half in Columbus County where the program is ongoing,” Keaton said.

MYUWF received funding for fiscal year July 2012-June 2013. They hired a case manager and an outreach worker in August and began working in Columbus County in the fall.

The organization has worked through Brunswick County school board committees to prepare a memorandum of understanding for school board members.

The board voted 4-1 to approve the memorandum at the last school board meeting of the year.

Keaton said with funding split 50/50 between the two counties, the number of students they can assist is also split down the middle—25 each.

“That will not stop us from working with more youths, but they will have to go on a waiting list. We will then refer them to other youth service agencies,” Keaton said.

Despite only having six months to ramp up the program in Brunswick County, Keaton believes they can reach the 25-student assistance number quickly.

“We’ve been working with the community to get the word out. I’ve been making presentations to municipal governments and churches,” Keaton said. “We’ve been stopping by law enforcement agencies, social services and other organization with youth contact.”

Once they spread the word, Keaton said a case manager would begin building a relationship with students and their families or guardians.

Board members addressed concerns about how the program would assist students without becoming a burden to the schools.

Keaton said the case manager will work under the authority of each school’s principal, will meet with students during non-core periods which may be during or after school.

The school system isn’t required to provide any funding, but agreed to provide an area for the MWUYF to work with students.

Keaton said students 16-21 years old are eligible. They will identify students who could be: below their current grade level, have reading and math deficiencies or have dropped out of school; pregnant or already have children; homeless, runaways or are in foster care; criminal offenders; or in need of assistance to complete an education program or acquire and retain employment.

“Our goal is to get them out of high school with a certificate or diploma, or to possibly go to college. Or to get them employment,” Keaton said. 

For more information, contact Keaton at (910) 655-0697. 


Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.