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Challenge grant drive launched to fund educational help for struggling students

Boys & Girls club
The United Boys & Girls club seeks donations to fund special study sessions for struggling students.
Boys & Girls Club
The United Boys & Girls club seeks donations to fund special study sessions to help students improve grades.
Boys & Girls Club
The United Boys & Girls club seeks donations to fund special study sessions to help students improve grades.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - The United Boys & Girls Club has launched a fundraising drive to help struggling students with additional learning sessions on weekends at the clubs from Lompoc to Carpinteria. It will also pay for extra learning hours during the summer and into the fall.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Baker says philanthropist Virgil Elings is providing the seed money of $500,000 as part of a challenge grant fundraising drive that will continue through this year.

The funds will cover Saturday learning center programs to help students who have fallen behind on their grades. The new infusion of funds, along with a call for community donations, will help students for the next nine months.

Specifically it will extend the Spring and Summer programs. "That will roll right back into the fall with the ultimate goal  of  by 12-31-21  all of our kids that are part of the United Boys & Girls clubs will be back on track," said Baker.

It's expected to assist them in their weekday learning, especially in areas of reading and math. Nutrition and personal health are also part of the learning program.

A recent report shows grades have fallen for many students while they have been learning via remote sessions. These new support programs are showing results already and a committed effort is being made in many areas of the county where the clubs are located.

Baker says the club staff members, and the Board of Directors are fully committed to this program. He also says has been thanked by parents in the area who know their kids are doing better in school with these outreach efforts. "They trust the Boys and Girls Club, they know what we do. We are here to help their children," he said. "We are going to do everything we can to help kids  level the playing field and get back on track."

Baker says he has requested help from volunteers including student teachers, retired teachers and community members to be part of the learning sessions for three hours each Saturday.

The students will also get a free healthy lunch and a fitness workout.

"There isn't a parent I haven't met  yet that doesn't want their child to do well in school," said Baker.

The United Boys & Girls Clubs have locations in Lompoc, Buellton, Solvang, Goleta, Santa Barbara Westside, Santa Barbara Downtown and Carpinteria.

All of the clubs have a strict sanitation and separation program for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The program will be for students from first to fifth grade and supervised by the club staff, student teachers, retired teachers and high school students getting extra credit.

If you would like to make a donation or help as a volunteer and be an on-site teaching assistant at any of the clubs go to: United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County.

Financial and other support has also been coming in from the United Way and Cox Communications Technology.


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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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