SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) - A 110-page application, hard work, along with community effort all led to a huge federal grant awarded to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Springfield (BGCS). The 21st Century Federal Grant is for more than $800,000 distributed over a five year period. The Boys and Girls Club at Fremont Elementary will get the first installment in November.
Brandy Harris, Chief Executive Officer for BGCS, said research and data showed just how beneficial the grant would be to the Boys & Girls Clubs. The ultimate goal is to use the money to make Springfield a better place for kids through program quality, better grades, and expanding the program's outreach.
Harris said the 21st Century Grant will allow the club to reach those goals despite being in a non-traditional place. "We are using school space, 100% school space to serve over 100 kids a day so far," she explained. "It is also expanding our reach, we can reach a hundred more kids that we weren't able to reach before."
The Boys & Girls Club of Springfield at Fremont Elementary is the first club to be located inside of an existing school.
While the Fremont location opened on the first day of school, BGCS Fremont Unit Director Jeremy Hiatt pointed out the organization opened the new location before it knew if it would get the grant. He said the money was crucial as the club's focus is to improve grades, diversity, and to close economic gaps. "We've been able to break down the barriers that our traditional clubs have had with them not being in the school building," said Hiatt. "We know the kids that we serve here are kids that the school also serve."
The in-school club is designed for working families, and it cost $45 a semester. While it provides a safe and educational space for children, Hiatt said that it's in everyone's best interest to ensure and do whatever it takes to help the kids at Fremont.