Boys and Girls Club breaks ground on new teen center with gift from Jackson National Life

Teens will have a new place to learn, gather and create come June 2016 as construction gets underway this February on a year-round teen center at the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing.
The Jackson Teen Zone will be 2,700-square feet of dedicated space for the more than 1,500 teens who come to the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing for after-school programs and summer curriculum each year. Jackson National Life Insurance Company committed $600,000 to build the new center attached to the existing facility at 4315 Pleasant Grove Road on Lansing's south side.
"Right now, our building is generally at capacity and when we do our STEM programs, we do it wherever we can find the space," says Sandra Kowalk-Thompson, director of development for Lansing's Boys and Girls Club. "The Jackson Teen Zone will take things to the next level and means that teens can really step up and experience some exciting educational programming."
The Jackson Teen Zone will house state-of-the-art technology and provide a space for a variety of teen educational programs. An expanded Makerspace will be led by Angela Calabrese-Barton from Michigan State University.
"Jackson's lead gift will allow us to do some things that financially we couldn't do before," says Kowalk-Thompson. "We'll have maker stations where kids can do things, tables with built-in power supplies, 3D printers and laser cutters, and high definition projectors and screens—all the things you would expect to see in a state-of-the-art tech center."
Kowalk-Thompson says the Boys and Girls Club is open when kids need them most—during the summer and after school, and provides a positive environment in which to learn and grow.
"We're open on snow days, during winter break—whenever school is out, we're open," says Kowalk-Thompson. "That's significant. Lots of parents, grandparents and caregivers come in and say 'I don't know what I would do if you weren't here." Youth development activities support attitudes, behaviors and skills that foster success in the classroom, the workforce and world.
The Lansing club serves more than 5,200 at-risk youth aged 7 to 18 annually with the help of 9 full-time staff, 14 part-time staff, and more than 200 volunteers. Membership is $10 per child per year. The Jackson Teen Zone will complement and expand the existing 25,000 square foot facility that includes age-specific rooms and common areas like gyms, study areas and game rooms.
Construction for the new space is projected to cost about $715,000, and will be funded through Jackson's lead gift, a $100,000 technology grant and individual donor gifts.
Source: Sandra Kowalk-Thompson, Director of Development, Boys and Girls Club of Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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