Mayor McGinn challenges community to match $20,000 grant
SEATTLE - Today, Mayor Mike McGinn announced a $20,000 matching grant for the Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets (PSKS) organization for homeless teens and young adults. For every dollar the Seattle community donates to PSKS, the City will match it - up to $20,000.
PSKS recently announced that it may have to close its doors after 18 years of serving homeless youth on Capitol Hill if it did not immediately raise $75,000. The grant-driven organization has struggled this year to compete with an ever-widening group of non-profits seeking public dollars and private donations.
The community stepped up and in just one week, more than $76,000 in donations flowed in through PSKS's website. This money will support their immediate requirements, but they still have needs and face a potential deficit in 2013.
"The donations PSKS has already received rescues them for now," said Mayor McGinn. "Let's help this incredible organization get a head start on 2013. I know that Seattle can pull together, as our city has done time and time again, to support important local efforts to help those in need."
The Mayor, in conjunction with Seattle Parks and Recreation Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams, identified a source of grant funding within Parks' Youth Development Fund. With this seed money, the Mayor intends to motivate the community to dig deep and help the City's most vulnerable citizens.
PSKS provides support and services to Seattle area homeless youth and young adults up to 26 years old, including daily drop-in hours where kids can get dry and warm, and have a hot meal. They also provide case management in partnership with the young person to identify goals that are achievable. PSKS offers access to services, such as education, and a sense of belonging.
"Our big goals are to provide stepping stones to transition youths from the streets to self-sufficiency and productive roles in community," said Executive Director Simons. "On a day-to-day level, we provide a place for these kids to land - even if just for a few hours."
Many of their participants are outside the normal flow of shelter to transitional housing. They live under bridges, in cars or tents or in the woods. They have animal companions and/or children, suffer from addiction or have other circumstances that make it difficult to find traditional shelter. PSKS makes safety, health and security a priority whether participants are living off the grid or grappling with substance abuse.
"What makes PSKS different is that it doesn't matter if you're addicted, you have a pet or you're struggling with a mental illness, we won't turn you away," Simons said. "PSKS embraces a participatory model where the young people can give back to the community if they want"
At PSKS, there is a focus on civic engagement. Young people are given the opportunity to help with the day-to-day operations of the agency or do peer-to-peer outreach at Westlake, Cal Anderson and Cascade parks.
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