Carrie Williams, Freddie Woolfork, Ronald Hudson, Joan Woodhouse, Bill Glavin and Angelia Perry gather at the new building named in honor of Glavin and his late wife.
In 1996 the Gifford Youth Achievement Center was just a dream. But it was a dream haunted by a nightmare. The high school graduation rate among African Americans in Indian River County was a dismal 23%.
Jump ahead to 2019, and we see that graduation rate rise past 80%. The game-changer was the work of GYAC among the families living in the predominantly African American community of Gifford.
GYAC opened its doors in 1998 as an after-school program stressing the value of education as a means to a good job and focusing on the merits of personal responsibility and perseverance as a pathway to a meaningful life. It wasn’t free, but parents were hungry for a safe, nurturing place where their children could go after school to do their homework, receive tutoring if necessary, experience enrichment programs and have fun with their friends.
They found it at GYAC, located in the heart of Gifford, in the original 18,000-square-foot building, with its four classrooms, computer lab and gym. So many found the center that it couldn’t accommodate all the children who wanted to enroll and had to start a waiting list.