Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady announce Building Great Futures for Schenectady’s Youth campai
Schenectady, N.Y. – The Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady today announced a $10.9 million capital campaign to support construction of a two-story, 38,587-square-foot building in Quackenbush Park, strategically located between two of the busiest schools in the Schenectady City School District and directly on the border of the Mont Pleasant and Hamilton Hill neighborhoods.
BGCS board members, staff members, and leadership donors who have already made significant commitments to the campaign gathered at the Rotterdam Boys & Girls Club to announce the campaign, share details of the project, and make the case for the importance of the project to the community, especially for at-risk youth who benefit from the organization’s programming.
The new facility, which will be located at 1097 Forest Road, will include a 4,000-square-foot teen center, a commercial learning kitchen, large game rooms, technology centers, several program rooms, a gymnasium with bleachers that can be divided into three separate gyms, a theater designed in partnership with Proctors, and administrative offices.
The Building Great Futures for Schenectady’s Youth campaign seeks to raise $10.9 million for the capital project, including materials, construction management, and operating programs for the increased youth population and the ever-changing needs of Schenectady’s youth. As of today, the campaign committee has already raised $7.6 million from individual, foundation, and corporate leadership donors. Mark Little, retired General Electric chief technology officer and head of GE Global Research, and his wife, Terri, are the campaign co-chairs.
“The former facility serving young people in the Hamilton Hill neighborhood was woefully inadequate,” Little said. “The Boys & Girls Club staff did an excellent job of making the most of what was available there, but it is now time for us to invest in the youth of our city and provide appropriate space and facilities to serve them with the level of programming they deserve. Our investment in this project is an investment in the future of these children and young people – and in our community.”
Experience shows that when clubs are built next to schools, attendance spikes. It is estimated that attendance at the new, state-of-the-art facility will triple the daily attendance of the organization’s former Craig Street location and 300 youth will attend programming there every day. The Craig Street facility shut its doors in 2016 and all of the children and teens who attended were transitioned into school programs located at Martin Luther King Elementary School and the Steinmetz Career and Leadership Academy. BGCS Executive Director Shane Bargy stated, “We have actually seen a spike in attendance since the transition out of the old facility occurred. We can’t wait to see the kids’ faces when we open the new facility!” Currently, the BGCS serves nearly 13,000 young people in Schenectady County annually.
BCGS Board Chair Larry Mossey said, “This project will allow us to continue doing what we do best – helping young people by giving them a safe place to learn and grow, create ongoing relationships with caring adults, and participate in programming that provides hope, opportunity, and fun.”
“By promoting social, educational, health, leadership, and character development in these young people during critical periods in their growth years, we help them realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens,” said Bargy. “Our members feel accepted, safe, and comfortable in our clubhouses and our staff help them gain the confidence and motivation they need to succeed in school, and in life.”
BGCS programming has proven results:
94 percent of youth members are on grade level for their age and more than 90 percent of the club’s high school seniors graduate from high school, significantly higher than the national graduation rate which hovers between 65 and 70 percent and is significantly lower for African American and Latino students.
89 percent of club members expect to attend college.
93 percent of club members have zero involvement with the juvenile justice system after joining the club.
97 percent of members abstain from using tobacco products and 87 percent are engaged in physical activity at least three times a week, contributing to their good health. In addition, the club serves more than 96,000 nutritious meals and snacks annually to help kids stay fit and aware, ready to learn and grow.
Additionally, 95 percent of youth members report that club staff have high expectations of them, which is the beginning of having high expectations for themselves.
Since 1936, BGCS has served young people from every walk of life, especially vulnerable youth at risk. Eight decades later, it is the largest youth development organization in Schenectady County, with 18 sites, including extensions, summer parks, and Camp Lovejoy, which each year serves 13,000 young people from some of Schenectady’s most distressed neighborhoods.
The teen center in the new building was designed with input from club members and features a technology center; education and specialty learning space; a game room; a DJ training and radio station booth; a café; dance and performance space; and shared access to the commercial kitchen, gymnasium, and theater.
“The features of the new facility will help our members develop the skills they’ll need to compete in a complicated, technology-based world,” said Bargy. “Our ability to provide technological learning experiences will be substantially upgraded, which will help bridge the digital divide that many of our members now face.”
Individuals, foundations, and corporations interested in supporting the Building Great Futures for Schenectady’s Youth campaign can get more information by contacting Tish Czachor either via telephone at (518) 374-4714 or e-mail at email@example.com.