ATLANTIC CITY — The Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City received a $500,000 donation Thursday from the parent company of Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, followed by contributions from several other benefactors, in an effort to help build a new center for city teens.
MGM Resorts International made the initial investment to jumpstart a $2 million capital campaign that will fund the construction of the Teen Center for Economic Development & College Readiness.
At a press conference Thursday announcing the start of the campaign, Michelle Carrera, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City, said Tropicana Atlantic City and the property’s new ownership group, El Dorado Resorts, Bank of America, George and Patty Siganos, and several other donors each contributed $100,000 to the project, bringing the initial investment to $1 million.
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The new facility will provide Atlantic City youth a space they can go to after school to develop the necessary skills to graduate high school, attend college or begin a career.
“Today we support about 1,900 youth a year. This center will not only help about 400 more kids, but it will expand our services to provide them with the skills and tools necessary to break the cycle of poverty,” said Carrera. “We could not transform the lives of so many without the support of MGM Resorts and our donors. Thanks to them, we are well on our way to creating a better future for thousands of Atlantic City youth.”
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Programs that will be offered at the MGM Resorts International Teen Center for Economic Development & College Readiness include hands-on training in the health, hospitality and technology industries, complete with a teaching kitchen, simulation rooms and a fabrication lab. The center will also offer academic enrichment in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), high school tutoring, SAT prep and college access, in addition to community workforce development opportunities.
The $2 million will be used to upgrade the current Pennsylvania Avenue building. In December 2017, the city provided the Boys & Girls Club with a 30-year lease for a building on Drexel Avenue, directly behind the existing club, which will allow the transfer of the younger members to a building already equipped for preschool and elementary school-aged children. The current Boys & Girls Club building will be renovated into the MGM Teen Club.
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Carrera said the goal is to have the new teen center open by the spring of 2019.
Mayor Frank Gilliam said that when the city was approached by the club to assist, “it was a no-brainer.”
“When you have the opportunity to say that you’re growing out of the space to improve children’s lives, that’s something that you can get behind 100 percent,” Gilliam said. “There’s no better way to spend money than investing in our kids.”
Providing better opportunities for Atlantic City’s youth was one of six areas of strategic focus highlighted in the state’s transition report released last month. The report, authored by Jim Johnson, a former U.S. Treasury undersecretary and 2017 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, outlined specific recommendations for the city in order to receive local control again.