About this project
The AMIkids-YES program in Wimauma, Florida, needs to raise $9,857 to implement an innovative Environmental Education Curriculum for troubled youth.
Developed in collaboration with Florida Atlantic University, the AMIkids Environmental Education Program is a 36-week curriculum that focuses on the preservation of our water supply, the role of bio-diversity in the health of our economy; the impacts of the energy sources we use in society; how climate change can affect the food we eat; and other critical issues.
The objectives of this program are to increase student achievement in math, science, language arts and social studies and to enhance students’ higher-level critical thinking skills and problem solving capabilities.
Classroom training will be augmented by a range of hands-on experiences and field work, including such experiences as planting a hydroponic garden, performing hydrological analysis on local waterways and estuaries; creating exhibits to illustrate watershed cycles and other systems; and visiting local food co-ops, energy generation sites and other places of environmental importance.
WHAT IS AMIkids-YES?
AMIkids is a national organization that helps at-risk youth become responsible and productive members of the community, with 56 affiliated programs in eight states.
AMIkids-YES is a residential program located in Wimauma, FL, that provides a second chance to boys aged 14-18 who would otherwise be sent to jail for criminal offenses they have committed. Our mission is to protect public safety and help youths transform into responsible adults.
Founded in 1994, AMIkids-YES is a fully accredited alternative high school that also provides specialized behavior modification and mental health services from highly trained and certified professionals, as well as a strong character education component that emphasizes personal growth and accountability. Our nationally regarded model is built around our “kids-first” philosophy; we focus on consistently creating positive opportunities for our kids to ensure their success.
As an accredited alternative school, AMIkids-YES receives from the Hillsborough County public school district to cover the salaries of certified teachers on our staff. Unfortunately, however, the Hillsborough County funding provides no support for classroom materials or enhanced learning modules such as the AMIkids Environmental Education curriculum.
Experiential education is one of the main reasons AMIkids maintains high success rates of redirecting the lives of at-risk youth. These activities encourage learning beyond textbook academics, an area where our youth have experienced failure in the past.
AMIkids-YES also receives funding from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to provide treatment for juvenile offenders as an alternative to incarceration. In recent years, however, state budget cuts have brought about significant reductions in funding for AMIkids-YES. This has forced the organization to rely more heavily on private fundraising to cover the cost of providing for the medical and behavioral health needs of the youths we serve.
SUCCESS WHERE ALL ELSE HAS FAILED
Students come to AMIkids-YES with an average of 11 prior arrests. Students entering our program are almost always significantly behind in academic coursework and testing well below age level in reading and math. Most have some history of substance abuse, and have displayed a disturbing lack of respect for peers and authority in their home communities.
Our success rate with this very difficult population is outstanding:
Nearly 100 percent of the students who enroll will complete our program.
More than 75 percent of the students completing our program do not commit crimes after leaving our program. Our success rate in this area is more than double the national average for this population.
On average, our students stay with us 6-9 months and make the following academic advances:
· a 2.2 grade level increase in Writing;
· a 1.0 grade-level increase in Reading;
· a 1.6 grade-level increase in Math.
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