Education / 2013

Boys & Girls Club of Venice Learning Center Renovation

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Boys & Girls Clubs of Venice

One of over 4,300 Boys & Girls Clubs, our collective mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. We accomplish our mission by providing a safe haven away from negative influences; an ongoing relationship with trained, caring adult role models; constructive, supervised programs that are sensitive to the needs of youth at-risk; guidance and encouragement in educational and career endeavors; positive programs that encourage strong values, self-esteem and a healthy lifestyle; a solid gang prevention and intervention initiative; a vision of life beyond adolescence; facilitation and reinforcement of a positive peer group environment; and family support. Our vision for the new Learning Center is to create a fun, stimulating environment, rich with technology, resources and opportunities that inspires learning. The new Learning Center will enable us to increase capacity, improve and expand our programs and continue to provide youth with the resources they need to build a solid platform to reach their full potential. To meet these needs, we have developed a multi-phased plan. The first three phases are renovating the following areas: main learning center, digital library/leadership room, and technology lab. The plans for the renovation project include: •Creating a synergy of existing spaces that will enhance the learning experience and supports educational success; •Increase access to technology, resources, opportunities and educational support; •Provide highly flexible spaces to encourage the constantly changing learning environment; •Incorporate a sustainable design to support energy-efficiency. As incredible as our facility is, our Learning Center is over-utilized and we have not fully accommodated for growth. We feel this inadequacy in every aspect of our core programs. Renovation and expansion of the Club’s Learning Center will enable the following: •A “learning center” where tutors and volunteers from the community can be matched to youth in need of additional educational help. Our members need a quiet place to do their homework after-school and there are few “quiet areas” where students can concentrate on schoolwork. Individual study carrels will allow privacy and study tables can be rearranged to accommodate groups. •Locker storage space: Currently there are no lockers storing personal items. On any given day, one can walk into the Learning Center and find walls lined with backpacks, books, and coats of dozens of youth that have no space to store these items. •A computer lab where youth could become more familiar with emerging technologies. Currently, 70% of our members are without computer and internet access at home and without home access students struggle to complete their homework causing them to fall further behind. The expansion of a computer lab would take the first step in addressing this need. •A meeting room where club members could meet with staff and adult mentors to discuss school performance. The Club’s group character and leadership groups would use the room for their meetings and to assist in planning community service activities. •Kindle books have now overtaken paperback books and the trend towards digital books is one that cannot be ignored and we are committed to maintain relevance in an ever-changing digital environment. Year-round reading programs and family literacy programs will be hosted in our new digital library.


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

The Boys & Girls Club of Venice was established in 1968 as a VISTA project on Venice Beach. The Club then operated for many years from a converted duplex home on Lincoln Boulevard, which was finally condemned after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. In 2000, after a successful capital campaign, the Club celebrated the grand opening of its new 30,000 sq.ft. facility at 2232 Lincoln Boulevard. The new Club features a basketball court and gymnasium, stage area, kitchen, teen/career center and store, counseling department, community room, music room, wellness center, art studio, activity center, computerized learning center, library, and administrative offices.

The past year has been an amazing culmination of opportunity meeting execution. Through the generosity of our donors and volunteers and with the care and commitment of our staff, we have created an environment where reaching new heights is the norm, and excellence prevails in many areas of the Club.

Since 2006, we have increased the number of college scholarships distributed annually from one to eight with the total amount annually distributed increasing from $1,000 to over $60,000.

In the fall of 2010, the Club completed its fourth major renovation project in the last five years when it opened its doors to the newly renovated teen lounge. The renovation of the teen lounge comes after major renovations of the art center, technology center, and gymnasium.

In 2011, the Club chartered its fifth after-school site at Mark Twain Middle School, where we will service middle school students through our Tomorrow’s Leaders, PowerHour homework help, the arts, sports, fitness, and recreation programs.

These services are critical and are coming at a time, when children and families need the support of the community to navigate the challenging waters of unemployment, decreased government spending, and unforgiving streets.

In our Club as a whole, over three-quarters of our members are Latino/a, or African American. Our Club children are challenged every day by the breakdown of traditional family structures:

48% of Club members are from single parent households 59% qualify for free or reduced-price lunches at school Several LAPD Gang Injunctions reflect gang territories; our youth walk through them on the way to school.

In spite of these challenges, we continue to achieve miracles, and enhance our core services. Without the support of individuals like you who breathe life into our youth development organization, our mission and work would be filled with empty dreams and missed opportunities to make a difference in the life of a child.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Our key project volunteers include Dina Morgan, Chair of FIDM’s Interior Design Department, and Thomas Carson, AIA and founder of Carson Architects.

The project will begin when we have secured 85% of the costs. We have already received one grant for this project and also have requests currently under consideration by past supporters of the Club.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

The construction of the renovation project will be evaluated at three different phases as follows:

•Phase1: The expected results of the design report shall include the conceptual design, drawing list, specification list, architectural rendering, conceptual floor plan, detailed project description, and cost estimates developed by architectural consultant(s) and by FIDM students. Phase 1 will be completed by June 1, 2013.

•Phase 2: Prepare bidding documents, solicit and evaluate bids, and select contractors by August 1, 2013.

•Phase 3: Monitor work-in progress, ensure compliance with organizational needs, project program and design standards, contract specifications, and applicable building codes. Construction will begin August 31, 2013 with an estimated completion of December 1, 2013.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

According to UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, at Venice High for every 100 students in the class of 2008 who started 9th grade, only 39 graduated, and only 20 of those took the “A-G” courses needed for entrance to California’s colleges and universities. Among African American and Latino students there the numbers are even more dismal: only 31 graduated and only 12 finished A-G. Of our Club members at Venice High, 58% are Latino and 17% are African American, so most of our members are considered unlikely to graduate high school, much less go on to higher education.

Our newly renovated Learning Center will provide youth with the support and skills needed to succeed in school, work, and life in the 21st century by increasing access to computer technology, offering case-managed academic assistance, informing and encouraging youth and their families to make an educational plan, and matching each youth with an adult mentor.

The outcome we expect from enhancing our Learning Center will be:

•75% of participants will move up at least one letter grade in math and english/reading.

•60% of participants will move up at least one level on the California Standards Test scores in English/reading and math.

Our evaluation consists of several strategies:

•Mentoring – We provide an adult mentor for every participant. Our Club already has over forty adult mentors working with our youth. In addition to Club staff, our group of mentors includes AP students from Venice High, college students, and adult community volunteers. We are always looking for more adult mentors.

•Goals for Graduation – Monthly presentations will be held for all program participants introducing academic goal setting. Through incremental goal-setting, members create an action plan with daily and weekly goals leading to both short- and long-term gains. Included in the approach is a comprehensive guidance strategy that helps members connect their smallest results to their highest dreams.

•Case Management will be used with all participants. Club staff will share information informally about individuals needing extra help on a weekly basis. They will also meet and discuss the progress and problems of all program participants formally on a monthly basis. When reports from volunteer mentors, teachers or administrators show a youth having poor scores or frequent absences, we can intervene immediately, before waiting for the next report card grading period.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

In 2012, we made great strides in several key areas to support our critical mission. Our progress is encouraging, but our work is far from over. We must reach more kids. Many more young people are waiting to be introduced to the Boys & Girls Club of Venice and start their great future. With support from the Goldhirsh Foundation, LA2050, and the Los Angeles community, we can continue to ensure that every child who enters the doors of our Club graduates from high school on time, with a solid plan for the future.

Our goal for 2050 is to serve more kids more frequently. We know from research that youth who attend the club more often and over a longer period of time are mroe likely to succeed in school, give back to their communities and choose healthier lifestyles. That’s why we must engage more kids and teens in the total Club experience.