Updated: Mar 19, 2021
A group of parents, grandparents and educators approached Lincoln County Board of Commissions with a county wide need for youth presenting compelling reasons. Children are sent to school and often left at home afterschool until 6:00 or 7:00 P.M. or later. Lincoln County is a bedroom community where seventy-five percent of the population works outside of the county. There are no after school programs in any of the three communities and no summer programming for those without the family support and financial means to participate in sports, FFA and 4H. Lincoln County is located in South Central Idaho with a population of 5,300. It is rural, with much of the land mass owned by the federal government. The three communities of Richfield, Shoshone, and Dietrich rely heavily on an agriculture-based economy.
For the 2019-2020 school year, according to the Idaho Department of Education, the low-income rate for Idaho is 42 percent. However, the poverty rate is substantially higher in our three communities:
Shoshone School District: 75% of students are considered low SES
Dietrich School District: 64% of students are considered low SES
Richfield School District: 69% of students are considered low SES
In addition, before the COVID-19 pandemic, over 10 percent of the county population was considered food insecure, according to Feeding America/Idaho Food Bank. During the pandemic, some estimates show 30 percent of the population food insecure, according to Lincoln County’s Benevolence and Beyond Food Pantry. Two of the three schools have free and reduced lunch for students year-round, children who are unable to get to distribution sites, remain underserved.
The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners made a resolution to create opportunities for the youth of Lincoln County and appointed Lincoln County Youth Commission. The Youth Commission sought a non-profit to help with grants and facilitate the project. The newly formed Lincoln County Legacy Project agreed to help with the creation of youth opportunities.
Public support was overwhelming with volunteers and donations. A 7,500 square foot church building was available, and Lincoln County Commissioners entered into a lease-to-purchase agreement. Lincoln County Youth Center (LCYC) is the outcome of the partnerships and public suggestions. The City of Richfield committed to paying utilities. Lincoln County Recreation District will help to establish programs and seek financial support. Programming was planned to begin in the fall of 2021, but limited activities have begun due to public demand and interest.