Boys & Girls Clubs to expand into city

October 28, 2007

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County, which serves youth at sites throughout the county, is taking its successful after-school programs to Baltimore.

The club accepted a $200,000 Neighborhood Excellence Initiative grant Tuesday from Bank of America's charitable foundation. The funds will help start clubs in two city neighborhoods.

"The grant recognizes organizations that have already had success and helps them build capacity and do greater work," said Laura Gamble, Bank of America's Maryland president. "The club is doing a great job serving its mission and has taken a big step with this move into the city. This is the great after-school outreach that the city really needs."

Ken Darden, who took over leadership of the Harford organization last month, said he is negotiating with city housing officials for two small sites. Initially, he plans child care and recreation programs. The Neighborhood Builders grant, which is unrestricted and can be used for operations or long-planned projects, will help with setup, purchase of equipment and meeting staffing needs, he said.

"We are so very excited about the grant because it will help us reach children in Baltimore," Darden said.

About 100 organizations applied for the Neighborhood Builders award, which also was given to Chesapeake Habitat for Humanity, which provides affordable housing for needy families.

As part of the award, which the bank began four years ago, Darden and one of his staff members will participate in a leadership development program with other nonprofit leaders from across the country.

"Previous winners have found that program to be as valuable as the award," Gamble said. "They will see what other nonprofits are doing and how they are dealing with a variety of programs."

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