Developmental Assets Creates Impact for The Georgetown Project


georgetown project
John Nehme’s eyes tell a story–a story filled with hope and determination. At the 20th Anniversary Luncheon hosted by The Georgetown Project in Georgetown, Texas, John spoke about his time as a youth leader with The Georgetown Project and how they equipped him with the tools he never knew he needed. The Georgetown Project provides resources, relationships, and services to equip local youth with the necessary tools to be capable citizens.

Established in 1848, The Georgetown Project has empowered youth like Nehme to make tangible change in their communities. During Nehme’s time as a youth leader, he and a few other youths created a presentation on the benefits of having a center where teens can interact and relax in their free time. They traveled to community groups and advocated for it in front of the city council. Even though he knew that he would be graduating before he would see the Teen Center, he did not relent. Because of his tenacity, the Teen Center came to be.

That singular experience at The Georgetown Project changed the course of Nehme’s life. Presently, as a Vanderbilt graduate, he owns his own nonprofit: Allies Against Slavery.

In 1997, then Executive Director Barbara Pearce, introduced Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets framework to The Georgetown Project. The framework is 40 research-based, positive experiences and qualities that influence young people’s development, helping them become caring, responsible, and productive adults. Ever since Pearce brought the framework to Georgetown, the 40 Developmental Assets framework has been the foundation of every program they provide.

However, the surrounding community is rapidly changing. In 2000, the population in the Georgetown area that was considered low-income families was at 25%. Presently, it has reached 40-58% and the Latinx population has grown significantly as well. In order to provide the appropriate services for the community, The Georgetown Project utilizes Search Institute’s Youth and Program Strengths (YAPS) survey and the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) to measure the level of Developmental Assets among their youth and build their needs into their programs. The Georgetown Project and 35 other youth service organizations, “meet on a monthly basis to publish data and identify gaps in services for youth in the area… as a way to make quality improvements in our programs,” says CEO Leslie Janca.

Due to the changing needs of youth in the area, their After School Action Program was established in 1998 and it became Georgetown’s first after-school care program for middle school students. They provide consistent and relevant care for these youths.

Another example of Search Institute’s framework within The Georgetown Project’s programs is the NEST, an after-school program specifically for high school aged youth who are living in transition, homeless, or at risk. The NEST was inspired by one teenager in particular— Lydia Garcia. Garcia was a homeless youth who came to The Georgetown Project in the 8th grade. She established herself as a leader and led many activities at The Georgetown Project. However, at the end of the day, she was still without a permanent home and faced severe hurdles to her success. Thus, the NEST was born, the first of its kind in Georgetown. “With the challenges Lydia faced, this community really wrapped their arms around her,” Janca states.

The NEST continues to provide enrichment programs, academic aid, counseling, meals, and housing for adolescents. The program ensures that youths learn and understand the Developmental Assets as well.

Through the Georgetown Project’s programs, including their After School Action Program and the NEST, Search Institute’s framework can be seen having a significant impact. Search Institute provided the foundation for the opportunities that made a difference in the lives of youth like John and Lydia.