Fran Cohen Youth Center Opens in Naples, Fl.

By: Laura Poff

The Fran Cohen Youth Center in Naples, Florida, was dedicated to God and the community in a ceremony held on April 10.

The 14,000-square-foot building will house after-school and summer school programs for more than 100 children and teens in east Naples. The center was named after the late daughter of Janet G. Cohen, who donated $1.9 million to the project.

“Mrs. Cohen’s gift was a godsend for The Salvation Army,” said Major Dan Proctor, Naples regional coordinator. “We are grateful for her vision and foresight in meeting the needs of many children in the East Naples area through this wonderful center.”

The $5 million project began five years ago when local philanthropist Myra Janco Daniels agreed to chair the capital campaign. She conducted a study showing that more than 10,000 children in east Naples were unsupervised after school, with parents still at work and no affordable after-school programs. She began a support called the Latch Key League that campaigned to raise awareness of and funding for a program that would meet their needs.

“We are grateful for the work Mrs. Daniels and the Latchkey League have done to help bring this project to fruition and look forward to helping shape the lives and futures of the many children and teens this facility will serve,” Major Proctor said.

The Fran Cohen Youth Center will close the educational gap in out-of-school time, including after-school and summer hours. It will house a nine-week summer day camp will provide educational activities, exciting field trips, and two full meals a day – meeting a crucial need for children and families that struggle with food insecurity during the summer months. After-school programs will work in conjunction with the Collier County Public Schools to ensure each child is functioning academically at the highest level possible.

The School of Performing Arts will be open to children throughout the community as well as those already participating in the after-school programs. Among the many classes offered will be dance, culinary arts, pottery and music instruction.