PACE Center for Girls in Hillsborough County has been serving the community since 1998. Our opening came during a year of mass expansion for PACE, Inc. whereas five PACE centers – Hillsborough, Alachua, Collier, Pinellas, and Treasure Coast - opened throughout the state that year. PACE Hillsborough opened its doors in Tampa serving 40 girls and, with community and state support, grew to serve more than 2,100 girls to date with their academic and social service needs.
We partner with a variety of community agencies including USF, DACCO, the Arts Council and Community Mental Health, to name a few, to provide our girls with a multitude of community resources to best meet their development and social service needs.
Currently, PACE Hillsborough serves an average of 60 girls per month and employs 23 PACE staff members as well as receives daily support of two additional teaching assistant staff.
Felicia was 16 years old and in the 9th grade when she enrolled at PACE Hillsborough. She wasn’t sure what she was looking for, but knew she needed something different. Over the past 4 years Felicia had struggled with explosive behaviors; she would fight with anyone who got in her way. Felicia was plagued with feelings of depression and anger. She often felt unworthy, alone and hopeless. After numerous referrals for peer related conflicts, fights, disruptive behaviors she was expelled from her high school.
Felicia’s problems were not only at school. She struggled in her relationship with her mother and the many other family members with whom they shared their tiny 2 bedroom apartment. Felicia would not physically fight at home but would leave home for days or weeks at a time after an argument with her mother or family members. She would stay with friends when possible and in abandoned houses when she had exhausted all of her resources. Felicia quickly learned how to get her needs met. She knew how to survive- but she was tired. She had always dreamed of getting a high school diploma, working as a cosmetologist and having her own family.
"Felicia successfully transitioned from PACE and continues to work towards her high school diploma at an adult high school. She has high hopes of becoming a cosmetologist after graduating in December 2015."
When Felicia heard about PACE Center for Girls, she had nothing to lose. She saw it as an opportunity for one last chance. Her first few days at PACE were interesting. She was amazed at the warmth and genuine interest staff had in her well-being. The staff seemed to care not only about her academic success but about who she was, what made her happy, what made her sad.
Felicia began to work with her counselor to explore her struggles with aggression, anger management and her inability to cope with life circumstances. Her counselor referred her to a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with bipolar disorder and prescribed her medication. She began working with her counselor on her emotional needs as well as her relationship with her mother. Her instances of fighting and running away decreased slowly. Felicia learned to use new skills to cope with life stressors.
Felicia’s attendance and academic successes increased steadily. She began taking and passing semester exams and earning credits. After 15 months Felicia earned enough credits to become a high school junior. She also gained part time employment at a local fast food restaurant. Felicia successfully transitioned from PACE and continues to work towards her high school diploma at an adult high school. She has high hopes of becoming a cosmetologist after graduating in December 2015.
How many girls served annually? Approximately 130
What is the average age? 16
Why do girls attend PACE Hillsborough? Girls attend PACE to get appropriate counseling and education in a nurturing environment. To become enrolled, they must be between 12 to 17 years old, at least one year behind in school, and have 4 or more risk factors.
What are risk factors? Risk factors are the underlying issues that lead girls to academic underachievement. These are issues such as: foster home placement, substance abuse (by girl or family member), domestic violence, incarceration of a family member, neglect, physical/emotional/sexual abuse, grief, emotional health concerns, low income, and more.
Think about these statistics…
90% of our girls were failing one or more classes prior to coming to PACE
42% of our girls had a prior arrest before coming to PACE
12% of our girls used drugs and alcohol prior coming to PACE
What kind of success do girls have after leaving PACE?
80% had no involvement with Juvenile Justice within a year of leaving PACE!
94% were in school or employed three years after leaving PACE!
85% improved their academic performance!
1933 E. Hillsborough Avenue
Tampa, FL 33610
For enrollment referrals, please ask for:
813-739-0410 ext. 5611