Agency Spotlight: Milagro Center
Milagro Center has been a Town of Palm Beach United Way partner agency since 2003. Their services empower at-risk youth in Delray Beach through the use of art-based activities and experiences. They encourage children and teens to “reach for the stars,” with the ultimate goal of motivating children, teens, and their families to succeed in their schoolwork and in their lives.
One program funded by the Town of Palm Beach United Way is the STARS program. STARS is a year-round, educational out-of-school, cultural arts based program. The program gets and keeps children on track in school by helping each child develop their own special talents and skills. The program helps children to achieve grade promotion every year with the ultimate goal of high school graduation.
Shauntavia’s mother had to work very late into the night, so like many children in similar situations, Shauntavia had no one to pick her up after school. She was dropped off by her school bus outside of Milagro Center, and the staff would see her standing there, even in the pouring rain. Eventually, they were able to enroll her at Milagro Center, but she was very shy at the beginning, and wouldn’t talk to the staff. Milagro Center teachers quickly discovered that Shauntavia was struggling in school – when she did talk, her speech was baby-like. Now, after time in the program, Shauntavia has started to come out of her shell, make new friends, and participate in all of their activities. She has greatly improved self-esteem, and feels confident talking and dancing. She has a mentor with whom she meets weekly, and her reading competency and school performance have improved.
How It Makes a Difference
STARS focuses on helping at-risk, economically-challenged students make positive impacts on the community and break out of the cycle of poverty. Students do this by graduating from high school and pursuing higher education, training, and/or rewarding employment. More than 40% of economically-challenged students in Florida never graduate from high school, and the statistics in Palm Beach County – and for minority students – are even worse. These students are faced with many adversities, such as inadequate academic preparation and poverty, which can lead to dropping out. In contrast, nearly 100% of students taking part in Milagro Center programs like STARS are not only being promoted to the next grade annually and graduating from high school, but pursuing post-secondary education. It is common that after enrolling in STARS, students change from saying “…if I could go to college…” to “when I go to college…” STARS not only provides students with the skills needed to succeed, but with the confidence needed to chase their dreams.
How You Can Help