Welcome to Pace Polk

About Pace Polk

Pace Center for Girls, Polk was established in 2001 to provide girls and young women in Polk County with an opportunity for a better future. Since its founding, Pace Polk has helped more than 1,500 girls by transforming their lives. Pace is a day-program for middle and high school-age girls to complete their education, build self-esteem, and develop strong life skills. Pace Polk uses a strength-based, trauma-informed, and gender-responsive approach to find the great in every girl.  

Before Pace Polk 78% were failing one or more classes prior to attending Pace. Twenty-six percent had prior involvement with the juvenile justice system. After completing Pace Polk, 98% improved academically and 92% were not involved with the juvenile justice system within one year after completing Pace. 

Each girl receives a free city bus pass for transportation to and from Pace Polk. Two healthy meals are provided each day that aligns with the National School Lunch Program. Girls have an opportunity to earn two Polk County School Board credits during the summertime. In addition to our day program, Pace Polk offers Reach at Kathleen High School, Westwood Middle School, and McLaughlin Middle School. Reach is a unique program that provides free school and community-based counseling services to girls in Polk County. Reach provides therapeutic services to girls and young women with a safe environment that celebrates girls as well as the opportunity for a better future through education, counseling, training, and advocacy. 

Our Philosophy

Pace values all girls and young women, believing each one deserves an opportunity to find her voice, achieve her potential and celebrate a life defined by responsibility, dignity, serenity and grace.


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Get in touch

Pace Center for Girls - Polk

213 Tyler Avenue

Lakeland, FL 33801

Get Directions

Phone: 863-688-5596

For enrollment referrals, please ask for:

Jesilynn Pfeffer email
863-688-5596 Ext.5516

Stories from Pace Polk
Miranda 's Story

"Before Pace, I was never one to walk around with my head held high. I experienced trauma at the age of two years old and at the age of twelve. I witnessed the physical and mental abuse of my mother. I did not know my self-worth because I allowed others to defined me, so my definition for myself was negative. Until I enrolled at Pace Polk. With the kindness and motivation exhibited by all of the staff members, the definition of myself is a never-ending novel of beauty and positivity. I do not think I will ever be able to repay them enough. They have taught me life lessons that I will never forget." - Miranda

Miranda reenrolled at Lake Gibson High School and was accepted into the medical academy. She is scheduled to graduate with her class of 2022. Miranda’s dream is to earn a Ph.D. in psychology and a master’s degree in nursing. 

Girls attend Pace to get appropriate counseling and education in a nurturing environment. To become enrolled, they must be between 11 to 17 years old, at least one year behind in school, and have 3 or more 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.