James Statler, the supervisor of a youth development program in Nipomo, has just started telling the dozens of teen participants that the program stands to lose most of its funding at the end of June.
But that doesn’t mean the doors to LifeBound Leadership’s 500-square-foot center on West Dana Street will close, he said, or that the link to the community program staff has developed over the past 15 years will break.
“I know our doors are going to be open,” Statler said Tuesday. “I know the program might transform a bit, but it’s too soon to tell.”
The Nipomo center offers youths age 12 to 18 mentoring, homework support and opportunities to get involved in community service projects, recreational activities and a 14-week leadership program.
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Statler is starting to reach out to community groups for support. He estimates a scaled-down program could continue to operate on about $33,000 a year — far less than the $175,000 provided annually by a state Community Challenge Grant.
While some of the money went toward the after-school center, much of it paid for comprehensive sexual health education and life skills programs in South County high schools and middle schools.
The program has received the grant for five years, but a change in state funding rules now requires a program area to have a teen birth rate equal to 30 births per 1,000 teens or more, Statler said.
The South County area — Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Nipomo, Oceano and Pismo Beach — has a teen birth rate of 28.1 per 1,000 teens.
Statler said he understands the money is being diverted to areas with greater needs, but questioned: “What’s the incentive to do good prevention work if you can’t continue to be funded for doing good prevention work?”
He said LifeBound’s programs in the North County, which include a teen center and similar programs in the schools, will qualify for the grant funding.
For more information about LifeBound, go to http://lifeboundleadership.org.
Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.