1101 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Belle Glade, FL 68105
The first Boys Club of Palm Beach County opened in West Palm Beach in 1971 providing young males a wholesome alternative to the streets. Today, BGCPBC is the largest youth development organization in the county and offers a robust portfolio of high-yield programs for $30 per child annually—or no cost; no one is turned away due to inability to pay.
BGCPBC members predominantly attend poor performing schools in a 66% -minority school district where 56% of students are eligible for the federal lunch program. Black students in particular have the lowest graduation rates state and county wide. For young low income Black males, finding meaningful employment is also extremely difficult. This troubling trend starts early with poor academic performance, particularly from ages 13 to 18; research indicates that children who live in poverty face enormous challenges to succeed in school.
Interventions are needed to halt the progression toward dropping out of school and being unemployed or under-employed, especially at the Belle Glade Teen Center where 70% of members’ families earn less than $19,000 annually; 77% of members reside in a single-parent family or other non-traditional households; and 90% of members are Black; 5% are bi/multiracial; 4% are Hispanic and 1% are White.
BGCPBC is committed to help its current 13-18-year-old members and alumni who have dropped out of post-secondary education and are struggling with joblessness and a lack of direction in their adult lives. The resultant Teen Employability Program (TEP), combining foundational education, job readiness training, structured employment in the Clubs, and career exploration, dramatically increased BGCPBC’s teen membership base by 176%–from 500 teens in 2013 to 1,381 today. Most importantly, the program has motivated academic success. In 2017, 99% of BGCPBC high school seniors graduated on time, and 75% are now entering into post-secondary educational programs (certifications, vocational, associates or four-year college tracts).
BGCPBC maintains six elementary school-based sites in the Glades allowing members to transition seamlessly to the Teen Center. This cohesion introduces younger members to programs and staff long before they are old enough to attend the Teen Center. It’s often heard that Teen Center members are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to join the Teen Center dance troupe, obtain coveted Junior Staff positions, and attend the College Tour—for nearly all, their first time on a college campus.
Unfortunately, the Teen Center in Belle Glade is turning away needy youth every day due to lack of the facilities and staff to accommodate them. So, instead of enjoying the nurturing environment and quality programs the Club has to offer, teens are going home to empty houses or worse, turning to negative influences of life on the streets.
In June of 2018, B&GC of Palm Beach County hired Crescent to pursue NMTCs in conjunction with its overall financing plan for the new teen center. Crescent worked to secure an investor commitment along with Federal NMTC allocation. In April of 2019, Crescent and the B&GC of Palm Beach County closed on $8.4M of Federal NMTCs provided by Florida Community Loan Fund, leveraging a NMTC equity investment made by US Bank.
Utilizing land donated by the County, $5.7M in capital campaign donations, and an estimated $1.3M in NMTC net benefit, B&GC of Palm Beach County began constructing the new 14,000 sf Smith & Moore Family Teen Center. The new Center will be nearly twice the size of the current Center, allowing a 300% increase in members — from 300-900 teens from the tri-city Glades area — with average daily attendance projected to increase from 125-150 to 300 – 350 post completion.
Dedicated workspaces and youth development professionals will provide the opportunity for Career Readiness programs including:
• Career Launch programs to introduce young people to the world of employment preparation, financial literacy, and internship opportunities.
• Culinary Arts program in a new teaching kitchen complimented with a Horticultural program so that students can learn gardening to table techniques.
• Performing & Visual Arts programs in areas of digital movie making, music composition and performance, and photography.
• STEM programs empowering youth to create new solutions to real-world challenges. From curriculum in App intermediate-level coding to hands on science and engineering activities.