A $1.5 million gift from Wells Fargo is expected to help after-school programs for young people expand dramatically at the city’s recreation centers.
The grant is Wells Fargo’s largest single gift to any group in Atlanta, and is designed to increase the involvement of nonprofits in tutoring and activities that, it is hoped, will keep kids away from gang recruiters and criminal activity.
Two pilot programs are already in place. At the Thomasville Center of Hope close to the federal penitentiary in southeast Atlanta, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta coordinates programs and works with the Thomasville Heights Elementary School across the street. Meanwhile, the Metro Atlanta YMCA runs programs at the Adamsville recreation center, the other pilot site.
City leaders say the programs will be the blueprint for after-school education — including fitness and community service — for more than a dozen other recreation centers across the city.
“We know that kids need safe, structured learning environments, and the Centers of Hope initiative has been making a tangible difference in the lives of young people at these two centers,” said Mayor Kasim Reed.
Atlanta reopened 16 recreation centers and seven pools in 2010 after Reed made the issue a theme of his 2009 mayoral campaign. Then last year, the city launched two Centers of Hope pilot programs with the aim of expanding the programming to other recreation centers.
Adamsville and Thomasville now host more than 350 young people per week, up from 100 when the Centers of Hope pilot program began. Wells Fargo chipped in an initial $100,000 gift to help get the program started.
“We’re thrilled to be giving a big boost to a program that is already having such a positive impact for kids,” said Wells Fargo Atlanta region president Mike Donnelly.
At the Thomasville recreation center, teachers from the nearby elementary school share lesson plans and assessment tests with tutors from the Boys & Girls Club. That helps the tutors create specially-tailored programs for the 60 to 70 youngsters who visit the center every afternoon, according to organizers.
About 63 percent of third and fourth graders at Thomasville who underwent reading assessments last fall and this spring improved their scores.
Cynthia Jewell, principal of Thomasville Heights Elementary School, called the nearby recreation center “a beacon of light.”
“The kids love going there and we are definitely seeing academic gains,” she said.
Enjoy expanded coverage of college football for UGa, Tech and the SEC, with our SEC Insider, covering all Southeastern Conference matchups and articles by AJC staff and regional newspapers that cover the SEC.
Georgians able to complete their applications on the Health Insurance Marketplace increased by 15 percent in November over the troubled first month of October — but the totals still amounted to very few in the first month vs.