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History

mary collier jennifer litton and anna chavez
Friendship Club Founder Mary Collier with the organization’s future leaders Jennifer Singer and Amanda Chavez in 2002.

Bright Futures for Youth was created with the merger of The Friendship Club and NEO (New Events and Opportunities) in summer 2020, two grassroots organizations with more than three decades of combined experience helping and providing much-needed services to youth in Nevada County.

The Friendship Club started in 1995, and has helped almost 1,000 girls and young women face many life challenges in a year-long, comprehensive program. The organization helps connect girls with each other, mentors and role models – and putting them on a path to success. From assistance with schoolwork to learning life skills to access to health and wellness services, The Friendship Club has been the center of many lives during the past 25 years. Hundreds of girls have attended The Friendship Club’s summer camps.

The Friendship Club established the SAFE program in 2019, providing academic, social and emotional support, and life-skills training and career paths for youth – girls and boys – and young adults experiencing homelessness.

Halli Ellis-Edwards and Lynn Skrukrud
Lynn Skrukrud (far left) and Halli Ellis-Edwards (far right), Founders of NEO

NEO started in 2008, when co-founders Halli Ellis-Edwards and Lynn Skrukrud were both 19 years old. NEO helps 11- to 25-year-olds make healthy and positive lifestyle choices with a drop-in youth center, events and summer camps. NEO launched as a drug-prevention organization but has evolved to embrace a more holistic approach, addressing the causes of substance abuse and mental health issues through events and the Youth Center.

With the merger, Bright Futures for Youth can expand the mission of the original organizations and outreach efforts to meet the ever-increasing needs of youth in Nevada County.

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