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Youth program for teens reaches out to Humboldt

Katie McGill

by Danny Wade

Representatives of a program aimed at helping teens has reached out to the community in hopes of coming to Humboldt. Youth Rising is a federally funded nonprofit that works with teenagers to put them on the right track and become successful.

Katie McGill, operations manager for YR’s Jackson location, set up a collaboration meeting last Wednesday and invited several individuals to attend. Deputy Director Melissa Kelley spoke to those attending about the program, how it works and what is needed from the community in order to offer it in Humboldt.

“Youth Rising is a 501c3 national nonprofit organization providing youth services including leadership skill building, workforce development, Teen Mental Health First-Aid (tMHFA) training, and peer support for youth and the community,” stated McGill. “The initial collaboration meeting was held December 20, 2022 at the First United Methodist Church in Humboldt to introduce Youth Rising opportunities and staff to attendees and discuss ways that YR services can support existing and future supports for teens in Gibson County.”

Among those attending the meeting were Humboldt Police Chief Reynard Buchanan, CP Center Gibson County Director Bett Jewell, Humboldt Boys & Girls Club Director Gladys Robinson, Alderman Leon McNeal and Humboldt Chronicle Editor Danny Wade.


Kelley explained the importance of having this diverse group of professions, along with education, faith based and/or youth services and individuals to partner with the program. She noted having local people involved is one of the key elements to a successful program.

Kelley stressed the importance of working with the school system and police department. She said Youth Rising is successful and data shows the program works. The key to the program is its peer-led training. Teens receive training, then work with younger teens to overcome challenges with trauma, unhealthy family dynamics, poor self-image, eating disorders, subsequent substance abuse and other issues today’s teens face every day.

“Youth Rising is looking forward to partnering with law enforcement, local businesses, other youth-serving organizations, local media, the local school system, and other members of the community to bolster existing services and ensure that community voices are heard in the development of a local teen center to serve youth,” said McGill.

Alderman McNeal had concerns regarding other programs that come to Humboldt, only to leave when funding dries up.

Kelly said YR is federally funded and funding is in place for the next 10-plus years with the potential to continue much longer.

The program has the funding in place to begin in Humboldt. They have already looked into a couple of locations for a center and are eager to work with the Boys & Girls Club and Humboldt City Schools.

According to YR’s website, the purpose of Youth Rising is to change and improve young people’s lives by empowering them to reach their full potential while becoming productive citizens in their community.

Their mission is to equip vulnerable, transitional-age youth with peer-led, youth-driven programs delivered

through virtual programs and innovative drop-in centers.

Youth Rising is a national program operating in several states including Tennessee with locations locally in Jackson, Haywood County and Ripley. There are also programs in the larger metropolitan cities, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Clarksville.

If you or someone you know is interested in collaborating to better serve the youth in Humboldt and Gibson County, please email For more information about Youth Rising, visit

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