November 16, 2022


The Georgetown Project rings in 25th year

Nonprofit has supported children since the 1990s

By KATE ST.CLAIR

The Georgetown Project, one of the county’s most active nonprofit organizations, celebrates 25 years of service this month. 

Created in the mid 1990s, The Georgetown Project formed as a collaborative effort between the city and county, education, law enforcement, healthcare, nonprofit and faith communities in Georgetown to address concerns facing local children.

“The programs really came about from community leaders monitoring arising issues with the youth [of the area] and wanting to address them,” Chief Executive Officer Leslie Janca said. 

Today, the group provides outreach programs to children and parents in Williamson County with myriad branches and focuses, catering to kids as early as preschool and up through college.  

The organization has served 62,000 children and families since they started and usually sees a surge of programs to support kids while they’re out of school in the summer each year. 

The Georgetown Project runs Bridges to Growth, a parenting resource for Williamson County residents. They also offer After School Action Programs and Summer Youth Employment for high school students. Their NEST Empowerment Center aids homeless or at-risk high school students by providing a place they can go to learn and receive counseling. 

While programs took a hit during the pandemic, Ms. Janca said they are finally starting to stabilize again. 

“We are just now getting back to the numbers we saw prior to Covid,” she said. “We work with a lot of parents and young children in our Bridges to Growth Parent Center. It really took a while before parents with young children were comfortable coming back.”

She said accommodating the unexpected is at the forefront of the organization’s mind when planning for the next 25 years. 

“We have some three-year goals, but we’re really planning for one year ahead,” she said. “After Covid, you just never know what’s going to happen. We have to be ready to adapt when we need to. We’re going to strive to continue to provide that leadership role we have in the community around youth. We try to stay very data driven.”

Many of the Project’s programs had to move online during the pandemic, but almost all have returned to in-person now. This includes their After School Action Program, which works in tandem with Georgetown ISD on all middle school campuses. It gives children a safe place to hang out and receive aid after school is out and has been a staple of the organization’s for over 20 years. 

Ms. Janca said many stories keep her inspired when she thinks of the program’s impact on the youth of Georgetown. She remembered a young girl they met through ASAP who was a large part of why they began the NEST program for children experiencing homelessness. 

“That young woman found the support she needed in ASAP, then worked with Youth Leadership through highschool and was the voice for students who didn’t have a safe and regular home,” she said.

The young woman is now working at a nonprofit in Austin and doing her part to change the world. 

“What I love are the outcomes,” she said. “Our goal is for kids to have caring adults in their lives, but also prepare them for life after highschool.” 

The organization will continue to offer these programs to support the community “cradle-to-career,” as well as providing resources for young parents. She credited a large part of the success of the last 25 years to the partners of The Georgetown Project in the community. 

“To continue to work collaboratively and collectively with our partners is important to us,” she said. “Having their long-time support and support from the community is the only reason The Georgetown Project is still going.”

The organization will celebrate their benchmark with an anniversary reception at their NEST Empowerment Center starting at 4 p.m. on Thursday, November 17. There will be remarks at 5:30 p.m. The center is located at 2201 Old Airport Road.