GIFFORD, Fla. – Wednesday, March 15, 2023 – From employee to board member and back again, Denise Smith is no stranger to the Gifford Youth Achievement Center (GYAC). Her history with the Center began 25 years ago with its opening in 1998.
GYAC and Indian River State College formed a partnership to create the Kellogg Academic Program for Success (KAPS). At the time, KAPS, now TRIO Upward Bound, was housed at GYAC. The program was created to assist students in 9th – 12th grade in becoming the first generational college-bound youth. The Kellogg Foundation awarded KAPS $500,000 and after its first year in existence, Denise was responsible for conducting research and securing vital community partnerships necessary to obtain the first federally funded TRIO grant in Indian River County. Smith recently retired from IRSC where she was responsible for managing federally funded TRIO grants for more than a decade.
Now serving as GYAC’s Student Support Specialist, Denise’s vision is to ensure that every youth, parent, and employee of the Center has an awareness of mental health challenges and understands the necessary tools and strategies to overcome these barriers. “It is my hope that this knowledge and understanding will flow into the community and continue to build and strengthen a network of mental health/illness resources through awareness, techniques, and much prayer,” said Smith about her new role.
“We are excited to bring Denise’s vast knowledge of and experience in mental health and college/career readiness to GYAC, in a full-time capacity. Denise is a fantastic addition to our already outstanding team,” commented Angelia Perry, GYAC’s Executive Director.
Smith brings with her several degrees including one in mental health/guidance counseling. She is currently working on a Doctoral Degree in organizational leadership, with an emphasis on human resource development. Her service to the community is extensive and includes: United Way of Indian River County board member, GYAC scholarship committee, School Advisory member, immediate past president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Eta Eta Omega Chapter of Fort Pierce, immediate past secretary of the Executive Board of GYAC, and past president for the state of Florida, TRIO programs.
Smith is happily married to Mr. Windfred Smith Jr. She is also the proud mother of three loving children, Clarence (Nikki), Ashley and Stephen Bennett and proud GiGi of Ameeliah and De’Anglio.
To learn more about GYAC, visit www.mygyac.org.
Gifford Youth Achievement Center, a 501(c)(3), opened its doors in 1998 on a mission to enhance the academic experience of underserved youth in Indian River County. Twenty-five years later, GYAC continues to offer year-round educational programs for students in grades K – 12. In addition, GYAC provides activities for adults and seniors. The Center also hosts job fairs, health clinics, community gatherings and serves as an information hub for those in need of services.