To facilitate at-home learning during COVID-19, the Pace Center distributed over 25 laptops. The girls have since averaged seven contacts a week with their teachers.
When it was time to transition to online learning, the Pace Center for Girls in Ormond Beach was ready.
Pace staff had already gathered information regarding internet access, technology needs and decided what telemedicine platform they needed to use to ensure all 52 of their girls in Volusia and Flagler County didn't miss a counseling session since the transition on March 16. Executive Director Georgia McCurdy said counselors were checking in with their students routinely and ensuring they had enough food as well as offering support if they needed it.
"Our girls are vulnerable when they come to us and a situation like this in our world makes them even more vulnerable," McCurdy said. "We just had to give them extra love and support and encouragement and assuredness that we would be there.”
Pace staff deployed over 25 laptops to help the girls with remote learning and have since averaged seven contacts per girl a week. On a state level, 98% of Pace students touched base with their counselors and teachers at least once a week, and 70% averaged seven or more times a week.
Remarkably, the local Pace Center reported a 100% academic improvement indicator for all their girls this quarter, McCurdy said.
To help keep them engaged, the Pace Center's Girls Leadership Council also created contests for girls to participate in, including cooking challenges and a COVID-19 art contest. While complying with social distancing guidelines, staff delivered art supplies, birthday cakes and prizes for the contests to the girls at their homes.
“We want to do everything we can to give them positive uplifting healthy activities that they can undertake," McCurdy said.
COVID-19's financial impact
Like many other local nonprofits, the Pace Center had to cancel two major fundraisers due to COVID-19. One of them was a golf tournament, and the other was its annual breakfast — two events that supply Pace with at least $75,000 in unrestricted dollars, McCurdy said.
“So that was a blow to us to see that we would not have those gatherings where we see so much outpouring of support and personal giving and corporate sponsorships that occur," she said.
Though the Pace Center receives support from United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties and community grants, McCurdy said about 25% of their budget is reliant on the grants, donations and charitable gifts often raised in events.
A virtual breakfast will be held on June 5, and McCurdy said they are hoping to raise money to make up for some of the funding lost because of the cancellation of events.
'It's like a second family'
The Pace Center created a video for the breakfast highlighting some of their good news. One of the girls featured in the video is Si'Dani, who was separated from her siblings and placed into foster care for two years due to her parents being unable to care for them.
Si'Dani, who is part of the Girls Leadership Council and was recently elected to become a Pace representative, said in the video that when she first arrived at Pace in February, she was hesitant. Now, she said she loves it.
“It’s like a second family," said Si'Dani, who has since been reunited with her siblings and adopted by her aunt. "I am finding the better version of myself at PACE. I’m surrounded by strong, beautiful, encouraging women and girls.”
About one-fourth of girls come to Pace with a prior arrest, McCurdy said. The rest of the student population is composed of girls who have had a traumatic experience or who were failing one or more classes. Pace follows the girls progress for one year after leaving the center, and in Volusia and Flagler, McCurdy said 95% of those girls have no further involvement with the juvenile justice system.
“If 95% of our girls one year after leaving PACE are not involved in the juvenile justice system, we know that we are truly both an intervention and a prevention system," she said.