When the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Houston applied for a grant from JC Penney, the amount they proposed was $25,000, which goes a long way towards youth empowerment, educational and sports programs at the club. What they didn’t expect was to have JC Penney turn around and not only award the grant, but double it.
Jennifer Hero, education coordinator, said the grant was awarded in December 2015, and it’s already making an impact. “Programming supported by these grant funds includes college and career preparation – including Diplomas to Degrees, Career Launch and Youth of the Year, as well as tutorials and standardized test preparation and character-building initiatives such as Passport to Manhood and SMART Moves, which aim to help club members develop their own personalities and talents while maintaining personal values and making responsible decisions,” she said.
Other programs buoyed by the money include sports leagues for cheerleading, basketball, flag football and soccer, and Triple Play, which helps club members increase their daily physical activity, teaches good nutrition and how to develop healthy relationships.
Hunt said one of the most immediate effects of the grant is its scholarship potential for the Youth of the Year program. A national Boys & Girls Club program, Youth of the Year focuses on awarding scholarships and identifying mentors to help winners advance through middle and high school and continue with career and educational goals. The 2016 awards dinner was held Feb. 10, and it’s the Houston club’s 10th anniversary of the scholarship program, so they awarded 20 scholarships, thanks in part to the JC Penney grant.
Students “fill out an application, write essays, get recommendation letters and do a speech in front of a panel of judges, and from there, they are ranked and we give out the scholarships,” said Hunt. The scholarships are available to rising sixth through 12th graders and the money helps them pursue college or trade school after high school graduation.
“Overall, the generosity of JC Penney will help the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Houston achieve its goal of aiding club members in becoming responsible, healthy and productive citizens. JC Penney is helping the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club change lives!”