Rome mother of three Grace McGregory feels blessed beyond measure for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Georgia.
“I would definitely recommend this program to other parents,” McGregory, a substitute teacher of North Rome, said recently of the B&GC program Project Learn.
Project Learn has been awarded a $108,000, two-year Community Impact Grant from United Way of Rome-Floyd County. It was one of seven local nonprofit programs at five separate agencies receiving the grants for the 2020-22 grant cycle.
Project Learn — a United Way-funded mainstay of the local B&GC for many years now — focuses on health, financial literacy and academic empowerment through various subprograms under the Project Learn umbrella, according to B&GC of NW Georgia Development Director Auburn Brasher.
“What we do as a whole is work with children who need us the most through our clubs in West and South Rome, as well as throughout Floyd County,” Brasher said, adding they serve about 3,000 children annually, but the grant will target 360 middle school children over the next two years. “With the funding from United Way, we’re going to use that to accomplish very specific focus areas.”
Those areas include healthy eating and living goals through their Adult Care Food Program and the Triple Play physical fitness program; giving children an academic boost through their Power Hour program that focuses on homework and other activities, as well as through their STEM Academy; and increasing financial literacy through their Money Matters and Family Financial Empowerment programs.
“We really appreciate the United Way support and the community support because this will help target those members of the middle school population and will allow us to continue with our fundraising efforts to fund the rest of the children we serve,” said Brasher, who has been with the agency for nearly four years. “Some of our children started coming to us when they were young and continued as a teen and now come back and visit as an adult or have their own children in our programs now. We’re consistently in their lives.”
Brasher said the organization has a sliding fee scale for those who cannot afford the $25 annual membership for each person served. Sponsorships also help cover the expenses of those struggling financially.
“We’re open to anyone in the community,” she said. “We don’t turn anyone away.”
Oblivious of the recent grant award, McGregory only knows for sure how much the B&GC has helped her own children ages 7, 9 and 10.
McGregory said her children started attending a club this past summer when she was looking to keep them engaged physically and academically while she worked.
They have continued to take the bus there every day after school, staying until 6 p.m.
“It wasn’t like a daycare or anything,” she explained. “They helped them with homework and got them involved in new activities they otherwise wouldn’t have had an opportunity to try.”
She knows the club has helped her oldest son overcome his debilitating anxiety and come out of his shell socially. She knows her daughter has learned to love to read. And she knows her other son has thoroughly enjoyed being able to play football with the other boys in the program.
“They also are more excited about math now and their homework is always done before they get home,” McGregory said. “They also have a lot more positivity about school now. It’s really been a godsend.”