The Boys and Girls Club of Muncie (BGCM) recently received a $50,000 grant from the George and Frances Ball Foundation.

The grant will be used to fund Project Learn, one of the core BGCM programs that focuses on academics/homework help, small group or individual tutoring, fun and intentional activities as well as recognition of students’ academic successes at school.

James Mitchell, president of BGCM's board of directors said that this concept will prove that the club isn't just a safe place for children to go until they go home, instead "it's an enriching environment that focuses on academic success, character development and healthy lifestyles."

BGCM summer programming begins June 5. More information about the Club and volunteer opportunities can be found at the club's website

“This grant that we received … will really help us to focus on the academic success piece by engaging young people in learning and helping them to succeed in school so that they’re more likely to be successful in life as well," Mitchell said.

With the money from the grant, the BGCM intends to hire a full-time education coordinator for Project Learn. Someone who will measure its success by tracking 50 club members on-time grade progression, school attendance and course grade improvements.

By having one person in the role, the club hopes that it will ultimately lead to those members' high school graduation and success beyond that.

“We believe that it’s our mission to really help children to be equipped so that when they’re ready to move forward into their future, they have that success under their belt, that it’s built up over time, that they become high school graduates with a plan for the future,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said he's exciting to see community-based support, both from individual donors and larger foundations. During the week of May 15, the average daily attendance at the Club was 109 children. 

These programs are intended to help students in the club, like a recent BGCM member who had a low math pre-test score and couldn't write her name. 

After just a few interactions with the staff and volunteers, Mitchell said she was able to write and recognize her name as well as increase her math score 150-percent.

“There are definitely impacts that are measurable and tangible," Mitchell said. "That helps to reinforce the fact that learning doesn’t just happen in a formal classroom, but places like the Boys and Girls Club can help supplement that."

One of the volunteers who are helping supplement that education is Leigh Scott, a junior social work major, who wants to become a social worker for underprivileged children or children in poverty.

Scott is one of the BGCM volunteer coordinators for Ball State Student Voluntary Services (SVS), where she serves as a liaison between the Club and the group of volunteers she goes with. 

Last semester she volunteered twice-a-week at the club working with mainly kindergarnders and will continue working with the club next semester.

“Just working with that population of kids has shown me that I’ll actually love what I’m doing for the rest of my life,” Scott said. “When I told them that I would not be coming back over the summer, there weren’t tears but they were pretty upset, so that showed me that I actually made an impact with them and really cemented how I felt towards the Club.”

Summer programs for the club begin on June 5.