Teaching Youth Life Skills

United Way of St. Clair County believes that the life skills and lessons learned through the programs shown below will help our youth have an enhanced childhood and gain independence as they grow into adulthood. Success stories shared by the respective Affiliated Organizations illustrate the positive impact these programs have on the youth of our community.  Many of these programs are designed to help our ALICE and impoverished families so all youth may enjoy equal opportunities.

St. Clair County Population: 159,128

In 2019 10.4%, or 15,900, St. Clair County residents were living in poverty. 

39,782 St. Clair County residents are estimated being at risk of slipping into poverty.


According to KIDS COUNT Data Center: 

14%, or 4,459, children ages 0-17, are growing up in poverty.
Youth living in poverty are much more likely than their peers to experience stress and deprivation that hinders health, development and readiness for school, and other developmental outcomes (2019). 

70.8% of parents, with children aged 0-5 years old, are working (2019).

48.1% of St. Clair County students qualify to receive free or reduce priced lunch (2020). 


ALICE Report (Life Skills)

Funded Programs

(Click to View Details or Scroll Down to Peruse)

Street Outreach Services ~ The Harbor

Cypress Place Street Outreach / Drop-in Center is a safe place for youth ages 12 through 21.

An example of the wonders that your generosity supports:

        "An 18-year-old male was a long-term Cypress Place drop-in center client who began using our services when he was about 14 years old.  When he first began coming to the drop-in center, he presented as very guarded and displayed  many behavioral issues.  Over the years, he began to gradually open up to staff and grew into a positive peer role model for the younger youths in the program. 

        This young man recently reached a very important milestone in his life - acceptance into a Creative Arts college in Florida.  He was very proud to share this success with staff.  Throughout the youth’s time in the center, staff have been touched by his desire to share his life accomplishments by bringing in things like report cards and pictures of prom.  In more recent months, the young man and his family experienced a tragic and sudden loss of a young family member; who coincidentally was also a Cypress Place drop-in center client.  The young man and his family came to Cypress Place staff for support, comfort, and understanding during that devastating time.  Our staff believes in the importance of this program to not only be an agency offering basic needs but also to offer mentoring and emotional support."

Engagement Initiative for At-risk Girls ~ Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan

Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan (GSSEM) helps girls develop leadership skills they will use today and through the rest of their lives to become confident, successful, and productive citizens.  GSSEM's Girl Engagement Initiative helps to give girls in grades K-8 a full Girl Scout experience during regular school hours.  The girls belong to troops, take field trips, earn badges, and sell cookies; during school hours to eliminate the transportation barrier that after-school meetings require.

Girl Engagment InitiativeAn example of the wonders that your generosity supports:

             "A young lady is a Junior Scout at a local elementary school.  In her first year in the program, we were able to witness her enthusiasm in everything she did; whether it was something as exhilarating as participating in a parade, or simply attending meetings.  Prior to becoming a Girl Scout, this young lady expressed that she never really had an opportunity to participate in or attend events; especially not experiences such as camps.  She expressed over and over to her troop leader that events such as day camps and NASA camp were brand new to her.  At NASA camp, she was exposed to STEM concepts; specifically working on a team to complete a design challenge focusing on aerodynamics.  The troop created shoe-box gliders, and used the engineering process to improve their designs in terms of aircraft, wing materials, shape and structure to produce the greatest glide slope possible.  The young lady also attended a field trip to the Air Zoo, an aerospace museum and interactive center to see life-size versions of gliders.

Both she and her mother became more active in Girl Scouts as the year progressed and were thrilled to begin this year.  Her mother expressed how much she has seen her daughter’s confidence in herself and excitement for Girls Scouting progress throughout the course of last year."

Scoutreach ~ Michigan Crossroads Council, Boy Scouts of America

MI Crossroads Council's Boy Scouting program guides and mentors the youth of America to become physically, mentally and emotionally strong, self-reliant and outstanding citizens of our communities.

An example of the wonders that your generosity supports:

        "One young man, a first grader at Roosevelt Elementary, came to Scouts the second week and was so excited to share that he already knew the Scout Oath. He quoted it word for word. In recognition of his dedication, we had him lead the Scout Oath at a dinner we had for the program. He came to the dinner in full uniform, which is a big deal for a Scoutreach boy as it gives them a physical connection to the program and a sense that they belong in Scouting.

        There was another boy at that dinner who was inspired by him and became determined to learn the Oath himself. He then memorized it with the help of a leader and the boy who already knew it. Together, the two boys led the Oath at the next dinner group. Both boys were very excited to have earned their Bobcat and have happily moved on towards new advancements with similar enthusiasm and dedication."

Assistance to Scouts ~ Michigan Crossroads Council, Boy Scouts of America

MI Crossroads Council's Boy Scouting program guides and mentors the youth of America to become physically, mentally and emotionally strong, self-reliant and outstanding citizens of our communities.

Boy Scouts Pinewood DerbyAn example of the wonders that your generosity supports:

"One of our most dedicated Scouting families in St. Clair County is a family of five with two boys in Boy Scouts. Despite the challenges that come with such a large family, including limited time and money, both parents have stepped up and given of themselves in support of Scouting. In addition to serving as a Cubmaster for her son’s Pack, the mom has been heavily involved in various district activities, while her husband has served as the Pack Committee Chair and volunteer at Silver Trails Scout Reservation. This family has experienced an incredibly tough year. They have dealt with deaths in the family, multiple car problems, and medical issues; including a premature birth from an at-risk pregnancy and a heart attack right before Thanksgiving that kept the father from working.

Scouting has been a shining light for this family as they endure these hardships. Using funds from the United Way of St. Clair County, we were able to provide registration fee assistance to their Cub Scout and a camp scholarship for their Boy Scout to attend Resident Camp. Without these funds, their older son would not have been able to attend camp. The family was ecstatic to have both of these requests granted and felt very humble and grateful for the assistance.

Scouting has continued to give back and care for this family as they continue to struggle with financial and health challenges during the Christmas season. The Scouting community is well known to take care of one another. To make sure they had a good Christmas, Troop 104 brought a convoy of vehicles to their house and stocked their refrigerator, freezer, and pantry with food and put presents under their Christmas tree. This act is a testament to the family and the impact they have had on others while also reflecting the values of Scouting in action."

SONS Recreation Outreach ~ SONS Outreach (Save Our Neighborhoods & Streets)

SONS's focus is on mentoring youth; especially those who need it most.  They provide youth with opportunities to grow socially, academically, culturally and spiritually.  SONS leaders engage youth with time, attention and truth.  SONS Athletic program utilizes flag football and basketball as a means to engage middle school and elementary school-aged children in order to increase their socialization, confidence, and ability to work together in teams.  The program targets at-risk youth in schools whose majority population qualifies to receive free and reduced lunches.  Coaches and volunteers serve as role models and teachers.  Participants gain knowledge of each sport and are exposed to sportsmanship principles as well as the need to be positive and persistent.

An example of the wonders that your generosity supports:

   'Jonathan' is a young man who was adopted and had many behavior issues that kept him in trouble.  He found success athletically over the years of his participation in our Recreation Outreach program.  By the time he entered middle school, his behavior had dramatically improved.  So much so, that he became a Recreation Outreach volunteer for the elementary school from which he graduated.

Jonathan has shown a penchant for leadership.  Part of his success can be attributed to his coach, Mr. Buddy Sutherland, who has worked tirelessly to nurture him as a player and more importantly as a young man.  The Recreation Outreach league created an opportunity for Jonathan to connect with Coach Buddy in a positive relationship that was desperately needed."

Talented TENTH ~ SONS Outreach (Save Our Neighborhoods & Streets)

SONS focus is on mentoring youth; especially those who need it most.  They provide youth with opportunities to grow socially, academically, culturally and spiritually.  SONS leaders engage youth with time, attention and truth.  The Talented Tenth Program is a high school student leadership development program that helps prepare students to succeed in their academic, relational and spiritual life.  They have numerous professionals and speakers in the community that come and present to the participants.

Talented TenthAn example of the wonders that your generosity supports:

        "'George' was a socially awkward eighth grader who was told by the Talented TENTH volunteers, "I see you as a leader."  Little did the director know what impact that would have on this particular student.  George decided to join the Talented TENTH program in his ninth grade year.  He went on to become an officer in the program as well as a member of the honor society in his local high school. 

        George now is a freshman at Michigan State University. He will tell anyone in a New York minute the positive impact the Talented TENTH program had in his life.  His mother also expresses an almost embarrassing gratitude for what the program has meant to her son.  He knows he is loved and believed in!"

Inclusive Youth Social Recreation ~ The Arc of St. Clair County

The Arc of St. Clair County is a private non-profit membership organization providing individual, system, and community advocacy for persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities.  The Arc's Inclusive Recreation Program seeks to provide the least restrictive and inclusive recreation experiences for people with intellectual and developmental disabilites, through creative programming and by working with exisitng recreational programs.

An example of the wonders that your generosity supports:

   An exciting piece of this program is recreational access at the three Port Huron Housing Commission Community Rooms.  The Arc of St. Clair County has aligned with the Housing Commission to develop a program that works with the individuals in their communities to gain access to our services.  This program brings children and their parents to the community center to participate in activities.  It has opened up a dialogue with the parents about services The Arc has for children.  We have connected parents with our Child & Family Advocate for their children and our Adult Advocate for themselves.  The Housing Commission staff attend at the beginning of the program to assist with access to the building.  During their time with us, they have connected parents with their community’s resources.

Our Inclusive Youth Social Recreation program with the Housing Commission is not only for the children living in these communities; the families of surrounding communities are welcome to join us.  We have seen this lead to connections between children as they are participating in our program (they say, ‘they have become friends and now see each other at school').  These friendships are what this program is about - connecting children with disabilities and children without.  The children do not see the disability - they see FRIENDS."