Truly Valued nonprofit advancing youth initiative in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties

Truly Valued’s mentoring program promotes self-esteem, education, confidence and character among youth and families. “This opportunity has been seven years in the making," founder Shavonne Sams said.

Truly Valued, a nonprofit that provides learning and mentorship for at-risk youth in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties, is advancing its initiative thanks to recent funding from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation.

Funds from the Barancik Foundation will be allotted for staff positions, program enhancements, and increased services and resources for community members who need it most, according to CEO Shavonne Sams, who founded the organization in 2014.

“The generosity of the Barancik Foundation is a testament of true collaboration designed for the betterment of our children, families, schools, and community. We are truly grateful and honored,” Sams said.

Truly Valued’s I AM Academy mentoring program has been available to students on the campuses of Sarasota and Manatee schools. The organization has made it a priority to stress the significance of converting actions into measurable results that empower youth and adults in the community.

“This opportunity has been seven years in the making," Sams said. "We wouldn’t have this level of transformation in our youth without the ongoing support of our partners and investors."

Sams holds a master’s degree in management and is pursuing a diploma in Divinity from Christian Leaders College. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, the School Advisory Council at Booker Middle School, the Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Team comprised of local law enforcement agencies, and Teen Court.

Truly Valued works with local churches, schools, and other organizations to create a mentoring partnership that supports youth development and promotes self-esteem, education, confidence and character among youth and families. According to the organization's impact report in May:

· 95% of students could identify two things they learned from the pillars of building character, confidence, education opportunities, self-esteem, and awareness.

· 84% of students said that they respect themselves more and are better aware of their surroundings.

· 53% of students reported that they felt the program was inclusive and topics were relevant.

For more information, visit or call 941-222-0645.

Submitted by Truly Valued

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Truly Valued receives funding to enhance youth mentoring initiative