The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Wood
| The Times 



December 4, 2014

Jubilee Leadership Academy Director Rick Griffin and his wife Leann traveled to Washington D.C. on Nov. 20 where they accepted a $25,000SURVEYOR:WORLD Hope Award prize check.

PRESCOTT – Jubilee Leadership Academy ( JLA) is dedicated to bringing hope to hurting and struggling teens. Their mission, as stated on their website, is “Teaching and modeling that the divine image of God is within all human beings. We strive to provide a Christ-centered community where youth can find a new beginning.”

JLA’s ongoing successes toward that goal makes the academy a supremely fitting recipient of the prestigious WORLD News Group’s Hope Award. On Nov. 20 JLA Director Rick Griffin traveled to Washington D.C. where he accepted the national award along with a check for $25,000.

WORLD News Group’s Hope Award for Effective Compassion is given annually to organizations that “engage in effective compassion by equipping their beneficiaries with useful skills to break the cycle of poverty and pointing them to Christ.” Voters turned out in record numbers this year, with 12,000 readers and ministry supporters choosing the national winner from a slate of four regional finalists.

JLA was selected as the west regional winner in late September. Other regional winners included: Midwest winner Friends Ministry of Lake City, Mich., a community garden that challenges the poor to work off their bills; northeast winner Seeds of Hope of Camden, N.J., a street-savvy ministry mentoring men and women in drug and violence ravaged Camden; and southern winner Maury United Ministries of Maury County, Tennessee, a ministry dedicated to building relationships through providing rides to people without transportation. The four regional winners, as well as international winner, Compassion International, all received checks for $4,000.

JLA is the third youth-oriented ministry to win first place since the Hope Award was first given nine years ago. Arkansas Sheriff’s Youth Ranches won the award in 2007 and Freedom for Youth of Des Moines, Iowa won in 2010. Other first place recipients include two organizations focused on job training, two dedicated to serving troubled women, one prison ministry and one legal aid ministry.

Jubilee is a residential boarding school that focuses on meeting the needs of struggling males, ages 13 – 18. The 400- acre campus is located on the Snake River about 30 minutes west of Prescott, and is surrounded by Broetje Orchards. The land was purchased and donated by Ralph and Cheryl Broetje who founded the academy nearly 20 years ago, in 1995. The academy opened that first year with only six students.

Today JLA serves over 50 students and is administered by a staff of 45. The campus includes two dormitories, a cafeteria, school, and staff housing as well a football field, basketball court, skateboard rink, zipline, golf course and a ropes course. Students spend about three hours per day in yearround individualized academic study (as part of the Prescott school district) and another three hours daily in vocational and character education. JLA focuses on safety, relationships and skills training through vocational programs like woodworking and welding.

The campus is maintained by the students themselves, as they learn to build, maintain, and repair all aspects of the campus as part of the Facilities Maintenance program. Through the Food Services program students learn food preparation, management skills, customer service, safety, nutrition and controlling food costs – all while feeding the students and staff.

The campus is home to cows, pigs, chickens and horses – all part of the agriculture program, where students gain experience in irrigation and pasture management, ranch maintenance, and animal husbandry. They raise hormone free pork and beef that is both served in the kitchen and used for fundraising.

Horsemanship is a special part of the program, and helps students experience trust-based relationships by working with horses. Students learn to be fair and consistent in discipline and come to understand that discipline is positive and not something to be avoided.

Individual, family and group counseling is an integral part of campus life. Experiential counseling, such as ropes courses and activity-based experiences, is used to teach life skills such as communication, teamwork and accountability, as well as aiding staff in identifying areas of weakness in a student’s skill set.

A staff-designed “leadership program” includes 60 hours of class time and 100 hours of community service as well as a student-led “Pay It Forward Project.” Learning to serve is a cornerstone of the teaching at JLA. In a video with WORLD, JLA Director Rick Griffin shared the philosophy that a student becomes truly successful when he chooses to give rather than just advancing for himself.

In addition to academics, vocational and character training, and service projects, JLA students are able to join with the Waitsburg-Prescott athletic combine to participate in football, basketball, cross-country, track and baseball. In the last few years, JLA athletes have played a major role in advancing WP to state level competition in both football and track. Many Jubilee players are varsity athletes, earn all-league honors and wear the title of scholar athlete.

Because the academy is faith-based, they are dependent largely on private donations to fund the annual budget of approximately $2.2 million. The $25,000 cash prize is a welcome boost to the budget and will be used to remodel the Agape dorms.

“We’ve been here 20 years. Things are getting old and we’re excited to be able to re-do the whole thing,” said Director of Admissions Leann Griffin. “This was an incredible opportunity. We’re extremely honored to be given such a prestigious award. It goes a long way with our staff and students to know we’re doing a good thing here at Jubilee,” she said.


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