A Voice for the Good: Great KIDS Make Great COMMUNITIES
3Rivers is proud to support so many of the non-profit organizations that are committed to making our community a better place to live, work, and play, and we want to help spread the word about the difference they're making in our region. We’ve teamed up with 97.3WMEE to bring you A Voice for the Good, a series in which we feature local organizations on our website in the form of an informative articles as well as on-air segments highlighting the non-profits’ missions.
This article features Great KIDS Make Great COMMUNITIES—a local non-profit on a mission to empower youth-serving adults in our community by providing education, training, resources, and support.
We talked with Amanda Miller, Executive Director at Great KIDS, to learn more about this organization and the work they’re doing in our region.
How did Great KIDS Make Great COMMUNITIES come to be? What’s the history/story behind how the organization initially got started?
Great KIDS started as an annual conference back in 1989, as a project of Allen Superior Court, with approximately 200 people in attendance. The initiative was originally started by Judge Charles Pratt as an effort to provide training in the area of positive youth development for those working with youth and families within the scope of the court system. Since 1999, with the continued support of Foellinger Foundation, Great KIDS has grown into a full-time initiative, providing training, resources, and support throughout the year through a variety of training opportunities including a Leadership Academy. Additionally, with the help of The Lutheran Foundation, we have been able to add a Mental Health Training Series that provides free, monthly training opportunities in our community. This fall, we are looking forward to celebrating our 34th Annual Conference on Youth, welcoming over 1,000 individuals who will have the opportunity to learn strengths-based practices and hear personal testimonies of education and restoration throughout the day.
What is the official mission of Great KIDS Make Great COMMUNITIES, and how is it currently being put into play?
Great KIDS empowers youth-serving adults by providing education and training on the application of positive youth development frameworks and strength-based practices to ensure that our community’s children have the opportunities and relationships they need to grow into productive and healthy adults. Great KIDS works to provide the resources needed to the folks doing the work in children’s lives. By providing the tools and connections to experts, Great KIDS facilitates improved outcomes for youth and families in our area by edifying youth professionals with the knowledge needed to serve.
How do you see the mission and vision of Great KIDS Make Great COMMUNITIES evolving in the future in the Northeast Indiana community? Where do you see your organization a year from now, or even five years from now?
We look forward to continuing to grow our reach and connect with youth and family serving organizations throughout our area. These relationships with youth and family serving agencies and organizations help us stay informed on current trends and challenges faced by youth and families, which helps dictate our training topics and community events. As we expand our reach, it is our goal to be able to provide current, evidence-based training opportunities to the community at large, as well as provide our partner organizations with access to affordable professional development opportunities.
What kind of impact has the global pandemic had on Great KIDS Make Great COMMUNITIES, and how has the organization pivoted or gotten innovative in response?
As a result of the pandemic, it was imperative that we shifted to virtual training events while group gatherings were on pause. We were able to continue offering our training events, including our Annual Conference on Youth, by streaming the sessions live on virtual platforms. We were thankful for the opportunity to stay connected to our partners and felt privileged to be able to offer training opportunities on topics that supported those we serve through the many shifts and challenges brought on by the pandemic. The silver lining in this shift was that it helped expand our reach to places outside the Midwest who had not heard of Great KIDS. After the pandemic, we had begun to reach a much broader network of youth workers from throughout the country. While most of our trainings have gone back to in- person events, we do continue to try to host a variety of virtual training opportunities throughout the year, including our video podcast series.
Could you share a standout story or two that really illustrates the impact Great KIDS Make Great COMMUNITIES and/or its programs has on those in our community?
So often, we are told that the most important work we do is in pointing out what others are doing right. That is to say that the work of those we serve is necessary, valued and remembered. Often individuals in our line of work can find themselves wondering if they really had an impact and we can give them an emphatic “YES!” as we hear from others about an individual in their past that took the time to connect with them. Those connections make a difference in the lives of others and lead to positive outcomes for all. A seemingly small interaction can make a world of difference.
How can those interested in your services go about getting started or getting in touch?
Are there other local non-profit organizations that Great KIDS Make Great COMMUNITIES works/partners with to enhance their programs?
Great KIDS serves anyone who lives or works with youth, so we are in the business of serving those who serve. We value our community partners so much, as well as the relationships we share that provide for improved outcomes for the members of our community.
Where can our readers learn more about Great KIDS Make Great COMMUNITIES or about getting involved?
Interested in featuring your non-profit on our website and on 97.3WMEE’s A Voice for the Good? Text "VOICE" to 46862! Please note that this may lead you to incur standard text messaging rates or other applicable charges consistent with your wireless carrier/mobile phone plan.