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Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast Secures Major U.S. Department of Justice Mentoring Grant

Award to be Presented January 30 at 4 p.m. Pinellas Park Boys & Girls Club
(Largo, Florida) – As part of a nationwide effort to promote the importance of positive adult mentors, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast has been selected to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs (OJP) totaling $164,000. The award presentation will take place on Monday, January 30 at 4 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club facility in Pinellas Park, located at 7790 61st Street North Pinellas Park, FL 33781, presented by U.S. Representative Bill Young (R-Indian Shores), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

The OJP grant will allow the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast to provide (for the first time) mentoring services directly targeting the many military families that live throughout Pinellas County, and the grant is to be announced in coordination with National Mentoring Month.  The $164,000 in funding will enable the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast to mentor approximately 206 young people ages 5-18 years.  While supporting children of military families, a portion of the funds will be used for additional emphasis on mentoring programs for minority males and children of military families. Research has shown that these two demographic groups are especially vulnerable to negative peer pressure, including dropping out of high school.

“We have been focused this last month on planning and implementing mentoring activities and programs for Club members,” said Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast President Nita Smith.  “So much of the success we have experienced over the last few years is centered upon establishing positive adult role models so the young people we serve come to believe that a great future is possible for each and every one of them too.”

Among the full range of mentoring and youth development programs available at every location is Project Learn, which emphasizes the importance of high-yield learning activities during the critical out-of-school hours.  Research has shown that journal writing, cooking classes and managing a Club snack shop helps young people understand the importance and relevance of an education, resulting in a lifelong love of learning.  Each of the seven Clubhouses located across Pinellas County has a state-of-the-art tech center with age-appropriate programs that teach members how to embrace technology, while staying safe online.

“This will be a great new program in Pinellas County and I am particularly impressed with the commitment that both Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Suncoast organization have made to young people whose parents serve in the military,” said Representative Bill Young.  “We know of the bravery and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, and this new program allows our local Boys & Girls Clubs and our community to give back to these families.”

About the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sun Coast
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America movement came to Pinellas County in November 1959 with the founding of the Boys Club of Pinellas Park by Police Chief Maurice L. MacTarsney and Margaret “Peg” Nunn.  The Club began operating in January 1960 in an old frame building leased from the City of Pinellas Park with its 1st executive director, James S Hart Jr.  The Boys Clubs of Pinellas, Inc. was chartered in August 1967 when its second club opened at the Northside location in St. Petersburg.  In May 1970, at the urging of both the United Way and the Boys Clubs of America, the Boys Clubs of Pinellas County, Inc. was organized.  In 1991, the Boys Clubs of Pinellas County opened its programs to all youth, forming Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast (BGCS), as we know it today, now with seven locations. The sole purpose of BGCS is to provide children, youth, their families and the community opportunities for safe, structured, well supervised after school and summer youth programs, with an emphasis on leadership, education and self sufficiency.  The organization has proven its commitment to service for children and community members with innovative and progressive programming and opportunities.  Supporters of Boys & Girls Clubs include government politicians, law enforcement agency representatives, financial institutions, and education boards, among other concerned citizens.  To find out more or to help, visit www.bgcsun.org.


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