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HOPE extended in community with grant


For families experiencing generational poverty, the idea of making positive changes can seem distant. Olmsted County Community Services is expanding two of its best tools for these situations — Project HOPE and Project PACE.

"It's about convincing people who have lost the belief that there are possibilities out there, and that there is a hopeful future, that a hopeful future is possible," John Edmonds, family support programs supervisor, said.

The county recently received more than $410,000 in Minnesota Department of Human Services grant funding to expand both programs over the next three years.

It is a grant the county has not received in the past and should help build off the work the programs have established so far, said Paul Fleissner, director of Olmsted County Community Services.

Project HOPE (Hope, Opportunity, Pride and Empowerment) was established in 2005 to address a specific issue — a disproportionate number of families of color in the county's child welfare system.


Project PACE (Parents and Children Excel) was established two years later, in 2007, as a direct connection to children in the community. The program works with young people of color who have school attendance issues or behavioral problems at home, in schools or in the community.

Together, the programs work with families of color in the community to address both personal issues and systemic issues.

"What our program was about was helping families to develop a vision for the future and then helping them to overcome whatever barriers there were — systemic barriers as well as what their personal barriers might have been," Edmonds said.

Education is a key component of both Project Hope and Project PACE as education can be an indicator of future success — and a lack of education often can correlate to negative social indicators, Edmonds said.

With the new grant funding for the programs, Edmonds said Olmsted County will be able to extend its reach into early education. Project PACE previously had served children ages 7 to 14, but with more funding, the program will move into early education environments at all ages.

"I think it's a major step forward," Edmonds said.

In 2014, the county's latest report on the programs, Project PACE served 94 clients.

For more information on the programs, visit the Olmsted County webpage at co.olmsted.mn.us or call the Children and Family Services Division of Community Services at 328-6400.


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