June 19, 2020

Afterschool on the Move: Despite Challenges, Afterschool Programs are Still Expanding

By Ben Trentelman |  

With a worldwide pandemic peppered with economic uncertainty and a dash of earthquakes in March, afterschool programs have faced unprecedented challenges for the last few months. As some programs have gone virtual to offer support for kids still at home with parents, many are fortifying and creating new policies to continue to support the kids in their communities as safely as possible. Despite current challenges, organizations serving youth strongly believe that the youth they serve deserve the best experience possible and have worked hard over the last few years to build new facilities and improve on older buildings. As I write this, many of these projects are coming to a head and have either recently opened their doors to new and improved facilities, or they are gearing up to open within the next year. 

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake has been serving the area since 1967 and has undergone massive new projects around Salt Lake Valley, with one brand new facility, the Spence Eccles Club retiring the Capital West Club near downtown Salt Lake, a major remodel of the Murray Club, now the Miller Boys & Girls Club, and plans in the works to build a new club to replace the aging Sugarhouse Boys & Girls Club. LeAnn Saldivar, President and CEO shared thoughts on their journey:

Why did your organization pursue building a new facility or expansion? 

The Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Club (Murray) expansion was done to address a waiting list of over 100 youth each summer.  The Spence Eccles Club (Capitol West) rebuild was done because (at 8,900 square feet) the old club has been operating over physical capacity for a number of years with hundreds more kids in the northwest quadrant of SLC in need of services. The new club will be 18000 square feet of finished space with another 9000 unfinished for future growth.

How long have you been working on getting to this point? 

The initial feasibility study for expansion was conducted in 2011.  Property search for the Capitol West location took 4 years.  The Murray project was added after the merger with South Valley in 2015.  We launched the campaign in 2017. We’re still raising funds today. 

What obstacles did you face?

The biggest obstacle was escalating construction costs between the time of initial budget estimates and actual purchase of construction materials.

IMG_3338.jpegWhat suggestions would you have for another organization hoping to begin a capital campaign?

Take more time than you think you need for meticulous planning.  Use an experienced capital campaign consultant and take their advice.  Consider retaining an owners rep to assist you through the day to day decision making between the architect and general contractor.  Don’t believe contractors timelines or estimates!  Add 20% to everything they tell you.  Weather, unforeseen challenges, labor shortages and material prices are variables that will all cost money in the end.

Who were some of your biggest supporters and how did they help everything come together? 

Our biggest supporters are those people and institutions with whom we have long running and trusted relationships, including our board of directors.  Not only did they come through financially, they were a great source of advice and counsel.

What impact do you hope your new facility will have on the community? 

We expect 100 new kids to start attending each of the expanded sites immediately with room for hundreds more on a daily basis as we build operational capacity.  Each site has a particular programming “magnet” based on the unique interests of its members.  The Miller Club has a state of the art STEAM Center that hosts programming for kids from all our locations.  The Eccles Club will have upgraded Fine and Performing Arts features.  The improvement in programming will increase our appeal to youth and allow us to reach deeper in the community.

Youth_impact.jpgYouth Impact has been serving youth in Ogden for over 25 years, and in that time they’ve continually evolved to better meet the increasing needs of the community. They recently renovated and expanded their downtown building to include a large gym and areas tailored specifically for enrichment and academic improvement. Board Member Cari Fullerton, who had a hand in moving the project forward, shared their experience:

Why did your organization pursue your new facility or expansion?  

We needed space to separate students by age and activity.  Our third graders were trying to read while the older kids were playing basketball etc.  Now we have an “education” area and a “recreation” area.

How long have you been working on getting to this point?  

We started the discussion in 2015, we went to the legislature in Q1-16 and received our first funding.  We completed our fundraising in Q1-2018 and the building was completed in Q3-19.

What obstacles did you face?

The primary obstacle was funding.  We raised over $1.5M over three years.  As Chair, I organized the Board into three groups:  Fundraising, Building/construction and Marketing.  This framework allowed every Board member to be involved, even though most thought they didn’t know what to do, who to contact, etc.  In fact none of us had done this before.  In all honesty, about three of the 15 members did the work, but all did contribute in spirit.

What suggestions would you have for another organization hoping to begin a capital campaign?   

Know your community and its relationship with your organization.  As you probably know, Robb Hall became ill in summer of 2017 and passed away December 24, 2017.  Since Robb was the founder and “face” of Youth Impact, we knew we had an emotional boost of love, but we also knew we may have a challenge of continuing the program without Robb.  We highlighted all of Robb’s strengths  and compensated for any potential weaknesses, or perceived weaknesses.  Many tried to get us to hire a professional fundraiser, we did not.  We knew our audience and supporters…and got lucky!

Who were some of your biggest supporters and how did they help everything come together?  

The Utah Legislature contributed $875,000 (over 3 years) of the $1,500,000 raised.  Then existing donors, supporters contributed the balance with about $90,000 in in-kind during construction.

What impact do you hope your new facility will have on the community?  

First and foremost, with appropriate staff, we could double our enrollment-serve more kids!  Plus, we have the benefit of a “free and clear” facility that gives us stability for grant writing and fundraising-we don’t have rent expenses and we have stability.

Is there anything else you would like to add?  

We want the community to share this building, we are working with other groups to fully utilize this new community resource.  The more families and kids we can serve, the more success for our community.