Georgetown Project Hero

The Georgetown Project

A Focus on Relationships for a Changing Town

Youth-Led Change in Texas

Georgetown, Texas, is a community that is changing quickly. In 2000, 25 percent of the population was considered low income. Today, closer to half of the population is low income, with a growing Latinx population. Georgetown’s organizations are evolving and growing to meet the challenge. Since 1948, the Georgetown Project has been involved with young people, providing resources, relationships, and services to help equip youth with the skills they need to become engaged members of the community.

In 1997, the organization’s previous executive director, Barbara Pearce, ushered in a new model of relationship building. She introduced the staff to Search Institute’s developmental assets framework, 40 research-based, positive experiences and qualities that help young people become caring and responsible adults. The Georgetown Project utilizes Search Institute tools to measure and improve the levels of assets and needs in their community.

Measuring Relationships

The Georgetown Project implements the following Search Institute measurement tools to assess the needs and experiences of local youth:

  • The Youth and Program Strengths (YAPS) survey
  • The Developmental Assets Profile (DAP)

These measurements help the organization gauge its strengths and areas for improvement by listening to young people’s experiences and views about the relationships and experiences that shape them. Georgetown Project CEO Leslie Janca says her organization meets monthly with other youth service organizations to “publish data and identify gaps in services for youth in the area … as a way to make quality improvements in our programs.”

Two After-School Firsts

After listening to young people, the Georgetown Project identified a need for consistent and relevant after-school care in the community. It established the After School Action Program in 1998, Georgetown’s first after-school program.

From there, the organization created NEST, an after-school program specifically designed for high school aged youth who are living in transition, homeless, or at risk. The project was inspired by Lydia Garcia, an unhoused youth who thrived in the Georgetown Project when she arrived in 8th grade. Yet she still experienced barriers and hurdles because of her unstable housing situation. “With the challenges Lydia faced, this community really wrapped their arms around her,” says Janca.

"With the challenges Lydia faced, this community really wrapped their arms around her."
Leslie Janca, CEO Georgetown Project

A Story of Determination

Georgetown Project youth leader John Nehme knew what he wanted: a youth center where teens could relax and interact in their free time. He advocated tirelessly for building one, traveling to speak to community groups and appearing before the city council. Even though he graduated before it could be built, John laid the groundwork for the teen center that is now a bustling hub for Georgetown youth.

The relationships and skills John Nehme built at the Georgetown Project changed the course of his life.

After John graduated high school, he went on to college at Vanderbilt, where he formed a nonprofit, Allies Against Slavery. The relationships and skills he built at the Georgetown Project changed the course of his life.