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Our Opinion: For those not at-risk

May 14, 2001

It's nice to see that some money in the Imperial Valley is being targeted for kids who are not "at-risk."

With our poverty, isolation, large immigrant population and relatively low per capita education levels in the Valley, we certainly have plenty of kids who might qualify as at-risk for one program or the next. Some probably qualify for all such programs. That is great for the Imperial Valley and great for the young people. Such programs actually do benefit youths, and as a result many get their lives on the right course, a course on which they stay for a lifetime.

We don't like to toot our own horn in this space, but a few months ago we suggested that with so many programs for "at-risk" kids being implemented in the Valley, local officials should pursue something for the not at-risk kids, the ones from solid families who excel in school, the community, sports and other extracurricular activities. And we are not patting ourselves on the back with this editorial because we are convinced we had nothing to do with the grant awarded to start such a program here.

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The North County area recently was given a $949,525 grant through the Imperial County Regional Occupational Program. The program will go to provide mentoring, career assessment, tutoring, math and science classes and leadership development for college-bound 14- to 18-year-olds at Brawley Union and Calipatria high schools. Subsidized employment in math and science fields also will be provided for the students.

The catch is these have to be good kids, those with at least a "B" average in school and 90 percent school attendance rate — or showing marked improvement in those areas — or achievement in community activities, sports or music. About 450 students will be served and 30 jobs will be created as a result of the grant. Several local firms are partnering with IVROP in helping implement the program, which has been funded locally for one year but could be eligible for three more years.

The funding comes from the Rewarding Youth Achievement program of the U.S. Department of Labor. It would be hard for even the staunchest tax-cutter to argue against a program that rewards good kids for their good work by preparing them for productive lives, which is what we will soon have here.

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