July 1, 2023

The City of Lee’s Summit was recently awarded a $685,000 Community Revitalization grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development to assist the nonprofit Pro Deo Youth Center in the development of a new teen center to expand behavioral health counseling services.

Of the 203 applications submitted statewide to the Department of Economic Development, only 70 projects received awards. In addition to the Community Revitalization grant, Pro Deo received a matching donation of $685,000 from Lee’s Summit residents Bob and Jane Rutherford for a total of $1.37 million in funding for land acquisition and construction of an approximately 4,000-square-foot teen center located at 902 SE Douglas. These phase one gifts are part of a larger campaign that will facilitate future growth in physical space and programming for the nonprofit. Pro Deo Youth Center will be revealing plans for phase two of this endeavor in the coming months.

“We have huge dreams for teens, and these substantial gifts breathe life into phase one of our growth plans. We are incredibly grateful for the community revitalization grant and the support from the state of Missouri and the City of Lee’s Summit,” said Dr. Elaine Metcalf, executive director of Pro Deo Youth Center. “This project would not be possible if not for the generosity and kind hearts of Bob and Jane Rutherford and the work of the City. This funding will provide Pro Deo a permanent home and the capacity to address the growing need for services that impact our youth’s behavioral health and overall well-being. Young people are crucial to our community’s success and when we give them the skills and opportunities to build a better future, the entire community benefits.”

Pro Deo is currently leasing a location that is at capacity and too small to serve the demands of the area. The new teen center will provide additional space and access to affordable therapy, afterschool activities, summer programming and other resources. Pro Deo serves students in grades 8 through 12 in eastern Jackson County who are suffering from homelessness, hunger, depression, traumatic life events and suicidal thoughts.

“Pro Deo is a great example of how to bring about impactful change by providing the right resources at the right time. Navigating the transition from childhood to adulthood is an extremely difficult period and fortunately, we have an organization that offers teens the valuable tools and support they need, including mental wellness,” said Mayor Bill Baird. “I am thrilled about the opportunities this new space will provide Pro Deo, our youth and the community.”

Founded in 2009, Pro Deo’s mission is to help build relationships, provide a comfortable and safe environment and give guidance and hope to isolated and at-risk teenagers. Pro Deo has a relationship with school district counselors, education therapists, social workers, licensed professionals, ReDiscover Behavioral Health and several partner nonprofits for counseling, tutoring services and health needs for teens in the community.

For more information about Pro Deo Youth Center and how to support the organization in its mission to provide preventive services for youth, visit prodeoyouthcenter.org.