Founded in 1985, and started in Pinellas County in 1997, PACE began as a community response to the lack of female-specific programs for girls involved in the juvenile justice system, at risk of dropping out of school, or facing other serious risks. Since 1997 PACE Pinellas has served more than 1,500 girls by offering them and their families hope and opportunity for a brighter future.
PACE’s comprehensive and holistic approach to Educational Alternative Services includes academics, counseling, training, and advocacy services. PACE helps girls continue and complete their education, stay out of the criminal justice system and obtain the skills necessary to lead productive lives as leaders, mentors, role models, successful business professionals, and positive forces for change.
Since opening its doors in 1997, PACE Pinellas has offered positive opportunities for 1,500 girls who were failing in school, struggling with histories of abuse, combating unhealthy relationships, and facing a wide range of other serious risks by introducing hope, love, and change into their lives.
Meet Abby – a bright, beautiful, honor-roll senior at Dixie Hollins High School, who will graduate in June with her Class of 2015. Her future is full of dreams and possibilities, but her journey to this point was not so easy.
At a young age, Abby was removed from her mother’s care and lived with her father and grandmother. She was 14 when her mother died from lung cancer and complications of substance abuse. Abby felt she had been neglected and abused by her mother and abandoned by her father because he was rarely around. Abby began using drugs, skipping school, was falling way behind and her grades were mostly F’s. The positive and stabilizing influence in Abby’s life was her loving grandmother but even she did not know what to do to help.
"Abby also became confident enough to mentor another PACE girl when that girl’s father committed suicide."
That is when they found PACE. Abby was 15, sad and alone when she started at PACE. Through the guidance from her counselor, and the patience and encouragement from teachers, Abby began to respect her life and work through the multitude of problems that were keeping her from being successful. In less than two years Abby had grown in many positive ways, exhibiting leadership through speaking to community groups advocating for girls and young women, leading tours at PACE, and representing PACE as a model in Beth Dillinger Foundation’s Value Me Fashion Show. Abby also became confident enough to mentor another PACE girl when that girl’s father committed suicide.
At PACE we believe in girls until they begin believing in themselves – We believe in second chances – We believe in looking forward, instead of backward. And we believe in Abby!
How many girls served annually? 136
What is the average age? 15
Why do girls attend PACE Pinellas? Girls attend PACE because they want to! They know that while attending PACE Pinellas, they will get appropriate counselling and education in a supportive and nurturing environment that helps them grow and get their lives on a positive trajectory. To become enrolled, they must be between 11 to 17 years old and have 3 or more risk factors.
What are risk factors? Risk factors are the underlying issues that lead girls to academic underachievement and place them at increased risk for unhealthy behaviors, poor choices, and contact with the juvenile justice system. 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…
88% of our girls were failing one or more classes prior to coming to PACE Pinellas
34% of our girls had a prior arrest before coming to PACE Pinellas
35% of our girls used drugs and alcohol prior coming to PACE Pinellas
What kind of success do girls have after leaving PACE?
89% had no involvement with Juvenile Justice within a year of leaving PACE!
88% improved their academic performance!
97% were in school or employed three years after leaving PACE!
4000 Gateway Center Blvd.
Pinellas Park, FL 33782
For enrollment referrals, please ask for:
727-456-1566, ext. 1506
Diane M. Crowl
Stephanie (Martin) Smith