Jacksonville's Pace Center for Girls captures national attention

Local organization helps girls get back on track in school, life

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local organization that focuses on changing the lives of young girls throughout the community is getting national attention.

Pace Center for Girls won the NCJFCJ Justice Impact of the Year Award. 

"When you are able to help a girl find a different future, truly transform her life, you're transforming the future of our society," said Yessica Cancel, Pace Center for Girls Chief Operating Officer.

Pace positively transforms the lives of vulnerable girls and young women by addressing past traumas and supporting academic success and social-emotional learning.

Pace provides a safe, holistic and supportive academic and counseling model for girls ages 11 to 17 by combining gender-responsive, strength-based and trauma-informed practices that create a unique and impactful environment.

When girls attend the Pace Center for Girls they receive education, counseling, therapy, and other beneficial services to help transform their lives.


"We're helping 3,000-plus girls here annually, but the impact goes beyond that. You've spoken with some of our girls. They have a different future now because of this," Cancel said. "So their children, their grandchildren will have a different future."

The organization provided these statistics on how it's helping young girls throughout Florida. 

  • Prior to Pace -- 74% of girls were failing classes; 61% were suspended and 11% had been expelled
  • After Pace -- 82% of girls improved academically and 91% are in school, higher education or employed
  • Prior to Pace -- 23% of girls had an arrest on their record
  • After completing Pace -- 95% of girls had no involvement with the justice system.

Representatives with the organization said winning an award like this helps in their expansion efforts. 

"Pace is working on a national expansion. We actually just hired our first team members in Macon, Georgia, and winning an award like this also gives us the platform and opportunity to speak with judges across the nation, which ultimately helps the expansion so that we can provide services to girls all across the United States," Cancel said.

For more information, go to www.pacecenter.org.

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