The Lawrence Sun, the local Lawrenceville and Lawrence Township newspaper, published an article covering a $25,000 grant PEI Kids has received from the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, A Division of Programs in the Department of State. The grant will support PEI’s Comprehensive Juvenile Offenders Outreach Services (CJOOS) program, which prevents gang participation and criminal behaviors, and provides mentorship homework assistance and tutoring services to at-risk youth. The Bonner Center is mentioned in the article as one of PEI Kids’ partners, along with Trenton Central High School and the Mercer County Juvenile Probation Unit. The Bonner Center dedicates a team of Bonner Community Scholars to PEI Kids where students serve as mentors to youth in the CJOOS program. The new project, funded by the $25,000 grant, will involve PEI Kids staff and Bonner Community Scholars working with youth in the CJOOS program at Trenton Central High School twice a week, where they will provide after-school homework support, educational planning and positive role modeling.
CJOOS is geared toward Mercer County juvenile offenders between 11 and 17 years old who are on probation for third- and fourth-degree offenses; about 87% percent of youth in the program are gang affiliated. The intensive 16-week program redirects youth toward more positive pursuits and lifestyles. The grant will expand the programming and enhance the partnership between PEI KIds and the Bonner Center as its Bonner Community Scholars will serve as mentors, visiting the students several times a week rather than the Saturday-only schedule of the past. The Bonner Center has worked with PEI Kids for over three years and the Scholars are excited about the increased opportunity to work with the participants in the CJOOS program.