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Neighborhood House to launch program for at-risk youth

Neighborhood House has received a four-year, $1.2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help launch CASASTART, a program designed to keep high-risk middle school students away from drugs and criminal activities.

NH will pilot the program in three South Seattle middle schools: Asa Mercer, Aki Kurose and Denny. The program, which is expected to begin in September, will assign full-time case managers to youth identified as at high risk for school failure, criminal activities, drug abuse or gang involvement.

The grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will leverage an additional $1.56 million from Seattle Public Schools, the City of Seattle's Department of Education and the Nesholm Family Foundation for complementary services for at-risk youth in schools.

Program staff will work with more than 300 youth, ages 8 to 13, and their families over the next four years, improving not just their lives, but the overall environment at the schools, says NH Executive Director Mark Okazaki. 

Case managers are the core of the model program, developed by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Serving only 15 to 18 youth and their families at any given time, the case managers work non-traditional hours in schools, homes and in community, youth and ethnic hubs.

Children and families in the program each receive 12 to 18 months of services, including counseling, tutoring, mentoring, family interventions and home visits, involvement in cultural and recreational activities and treatment for substance abuse and other health and mental health problems.