The Bundy Family recently donated $25,000 to the Urbana Youth Center to support forthcoming programming focused on homework assistance, nutrition programs, mentoring, and career readiness and placement.
Gil Bundy, CEO of Bundy Baking Solutions, shared his family feels strongly about supporting the Urbana Youth Center, a project of the GrandWorks Foundation, because of the growing poverty in Urbana and importance of lifting up local youth.
“When the Urbana Youth Center approached us, we immediately saw the value in what they are trying to accomplish. Knowing that about one in three of our area kids are living in poverty, and being family and community minded, we felt a strong desire to step up and be part of the change,” Bundy said. “This effort is exactly the type of positive, forward thinking that keeps communities strong and thriving. Investing in the future workforce isn’t just a good business decision, it is a decision to help provide youth with the means to have a successful life. I believe others in the community will see the same value that we do and very much look forward to seeing the success of the Urbana Youth Center ripple through our town for years to come.”
Justin T. Weller, lead project manager for the Urbana Youth Center, added, “The project management team for the Urbana Youth Center and everyone at GrandWorks is honored to accept this very generous contribution from the Bundy Family,” Weller said. “Contributions like this prove not only that our project is needed, but that it is going to come to life and build better futures for our youth.”
The Urbana Youth Center is currently planning to open in early 2021 but may launch limited programming sooner, according to the management team. When it opens, the youth center will work to foster connections between local employers and kids both at the youth center and through visits to local companies.
“We’ve been working on this since last November and just began the transition from our planning team to our operational team. Getting the details right, selecting the best location, fine tuning our plans for programming – let’s just say there’s a lot to do and we are committed to getting it right and to start serving Urbana’s youth as soon as possible,” Weller explained.
The youth center has secured the official support of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, Bundy Baking Solutions, Mercy Health Urbana Hospital, and others. Weller says that building a strong network of local employers and organizations is essential to the future success of the youth center.
Several locations have been considered for the Urbana Youth Center and the list has been narrowed to a few key contenders.
“Some of the best options would not be available for us until mid-2021 or after. Long-term we want a location that has room for what we anticipate to be an ever growing demand for the youth center’s services,” Weller said. “We are looking at some short-term temporary spaces right now so that we can start helping Urbana’s youth sooner rather than later. It can be easy with projects like this to get bogged down in red tape, but we owe it to the next generations to work hard and find answers, not obstacles. The numbers tell us our youth have some major challenges to overcome and the youth center is going to be there to help address them.”
The Ohio Department of Education announced information in 2018 that classified about 53% of students, or approximately 1,155 children, in the Urbana City School system as “disadvantaged” and the U.S. Census Bureau recently released data revealing that about 30% of kids in the Urbana area live in poverty.
Local educators, retired teachers, and engaged community members will be sought after volunteers for the youth center, according to the management team. More information on volunteering and outreach will be released in the near future. Those interested can visit UrbanaYouthCenter.org The project management team also identified the importance of additional investment in the youth center.
“The Bundys’ contribution and some of the others we have recently received are setting us on the right track for a successful launch of the youth center. We are continuing outreach to local employers and organizations to make sure we can offer children at the Urbana Youth Center a quality experience. This is not a small effort; it is a big one. As such, it is going to require other community members to follow the Bundy Family’s forward-thinking and generous example,” Weller said. “The great news is, investing in after school programs like the Urbana Youth Center makes great economic sense.”
According to data from the After School Alliance, a national not-for-profit organization, and the Committee for Economic Development, a Washington, D.C. based, non-partisan public policy organization, nine in ten parents say a youth center will help them keep their job.
Additionally, for every $1 invested in after school programs, $3 or more is saved within the local economy in the future.
The data also shows that 70% of children improve their problem-solving and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills when they participate in after school programs, such as the initiatives planned to take place at the Urbana Youth Center.
According to the Urbana Youth Center, a project of the GrandWorks Foundation, these stats make the case for a youth center clear and the case for investment obvious. In the coming months, the Foundation will be releasing more information. The team encouraged people to learn more at UrbanaYouthCenter.org and be part of the solution.
The GrandWorks Foundation is a local not-for-profit organization championing several efforts to reach, restore, and revive the community, according to the organization’s mission. The projects include, the historic Gloria Theatre in downtown Urbana, The Big Questions (a podcast exploring some of life’s most pressing topics), and the Urbana Youth Center.
Weller concluded, “GrandWorks is pushing ahead on multiple fronts to build a brighter future for Urbana and Champaign County. Efforts like the Urbana Youth Center coming to life prove to me that this community has what it takes to address our challenges and set ourselves up for a better tomorrow.”
Information from Urbana Youth Center and The Bundy Family.