Back in Jacksonville and it is feeling good
By Kyla Hurt
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Illinois (BGCCIL) are growing. In fact, eight new locations for school-aged kids in Springfield and Jacksonville have more options for remote learning and after-school programs.
The award of the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant, approximately $1.2 million a year for the next five years, allows for the addition of four new sites in Springfield and brings BGCCIL back to Jacksonville with four sites. “We are thrilled to be able to accommodate more kids in Springfield and finally get our programming back into Jacksonville,” says BGCCIL CEO Tiffany Mathis. “This grant from the Illinois State Board of Education will make a huge impact on the services we can provide here in Central Illinois.”
According to BGCCIL, the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center’s program is designed to provide academically focused, after-school opportunities, particularly to students who attend high-poverty, low-performing schools, to help those students meet state and local performance standards in core academic subjects and to offer families of participating students opportunities for literacy and related educational development.
BGCCIL Chief Operating Officer Emily Bergschneider says, “The ability to expand our reach to four additional schools in Springfield and into a new community will mean that youth in the Central Illinois region will have another advocate for their success for years to come.”
With this expansion BGCCIL becomes the largest non-metro Boys & Girls Clubs organization in Illinois, operating in 17 locations, and providing academic support and enrichment programs four days a week to over 1,700 youths.
Mathis was first introduced to the club when she served as its area director in Jacksonville from 2008-2010. She recalls, “Watching the deep impact that BGCCIL had on youth and families throughout Morgan, Cass, Scott and Green counties [at the time] highlighted the diverse needs that have always existed in both farming and rural communities. It means so much to me, personally, that we are able to expand back into the Jacksonville (Morgan Co.) community. I am forever grateful to Mayor Andy Ezard, District #117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek, the District #117 School Board and the entire city of Jacksonville for providing BGCCIL an opportunity to offer our services to its families, partner, and grow together as we unite our communities.”
A Jacksonville native, Mathis was asked to speak from the heart about bringing the Boys & Girls Clubs back into Jacksonville. She refers to the following as ‘from her heart:’
“The Jacksonville community has played a major role in helping me develop into the leader and professional I have become and it’s one of the major reasons I wanted to be sure that we brought back after-school programs to the Jacksonville area once I became CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Illinois. Instilling hope within our youth by providing them with resources and support in a positive environment with caring adults is not only an investment in our community’s greatest asset, but we know that being properly resourced can change the entire trajectory of a young person’s life as they grow and mature,” Mathes says.
She continues, “Additionally, I personally know how hard it is to find out-of-school time support for your kids when you are a working parent or lack the proper support systems so that you can be successful; this is why BGCCIL exists and is always such a vital part of the communities we serve. Our four Jacksonville sites, located at South, Washington and Lincoln elementary schools, plus Jacksonville Middle School, serves students during the school year. What many of our donors, community partners and families appreciate most about our high-quality programs is that BGCCIL works hard to keep program fees low for our families. Through multiple grant opportunities and our relentless fundraising efforts, our afterschool program fee is $40 per student for the entire school year and our summer camp fee is $75 per week at our Springfield location, another service we hope to provide the Jacksonville community Summer 2022. We are so grateful for the warm welcome we have received from District #117 and the community at large. We will hold a Community Golf Outing at the Links Golf Course at Nichols Park in September. Before that, though, we are fundraising with a golf cart raffle giveaway on Friday, June 25. See the ad [on page five] for information. As always, I am grateful to have grown up in such an amazing city and I sincerely thank everyone who has had a hand in encouraging me, supporting me, and is now supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Illinois as we work to uplift youth!”
About BGCCIL: The mission of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Illinois is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. We are positioned to serve more than 1,700 youth at our Central Unit and 16 elementary and middle schools covering two counties (Sangamon & Morgan). BGCCIL provides character building activities and academic programs designed to deliver measurable outcomes and a safe environment with caring adults. For additional information visit http://bgccil.org.