Grants support activities for youth

June 19, 2011

APPLETON — Two programs serving the needs of Fox Cities area youth will benefit from grants awarded by the Basic Needs Giving Partnership Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.

A collaboration including the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley, Appleton YMCA and Appleton Area School District will receive $40,000 in each of two years to support the Out-of-School Time Partnership, the after-school program they run with more than a dozen community partners, and the Sexual Assault Crisis Center will receive $12,000 to support its youth counseling program.

Supported primarily by the U.S. Venture Open Fund for Basic Needs within the Community Foundation and the J. J. Keller Foundation, the Basic Needs Giving Partnership Fund assists established charitable organizations with successful programs that address causes of poverty.

The YMCA and Boys and Girls Club serve more than 4,000 young people with Out-of-School Time at 11 sites at schools and the downtown Appleton Boys & Girls Club location. Its goal is to “ensure all high-need youth in Appleton have access to high-quality, sustainable out-of-school learning opportunities.”

Achieving that goal has become more of a challenge as low-income households have grown from 32 percent to 36 percent of households in the school district between 2008 and 2010, according to Greg Lemke-Rochon, chief professional officer of the Boys and Girls Clubs. He said 43 percent of the club’s members live in poverty.

“Without this resource, a lot of these kids would come home to an empty house,” Lemke-Rochon said. “It helps keep kids safe. It helps keep them on track academically.” The grant will assure the quality and availability of the tutoring, homework assistance and “brain exercise” activities members enjoy, he said.

The grant to the Sexual Assault Crisis Center will provide for additional counseling time for preadolescent and teen victims and at-risk youth. The center reported that in 2010, 50 percent of its clients, either victims or family members, were under age 18, a number they’ve seen increasing for the past five years.

Government grants had paid for 10 extra hours each for two therapists to meet that increase, Emily Bowles, communications and grant coordinator at SACC, said. That government money is no longer available.

“Those are 20 hours a week that are not in general our operating budget,” she said, but the Basic Needs grant will cover much of that expense.

The grants are supported by the U.S. Venture Open golf outing, which has raised more than $12.6 million for local charitable causes since 1986.

The outing also benefits grantmaking programs through the community foundations in Green Bay and Oshkosh.

The U.S. Venture Open is expected to draw hundreds of golfers to five northeastern Wisconsin courses on Aug. 10. This year’s special guest is bicycling legend Lance Armstrong.