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Local Nonprofit Unveils Plans For East End Youth Resource Center

boys and girls club teen center rendering
A sketch of the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond's teen center that will be built at the Eastlawn Shopping Center in the East End. (Photo: Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond)

The Eastlawn Shopping Center in Richmond’s East End will soon be transformed into a new recreation and resource center for the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond. The plans were announced on Monday. 

The nonprofit bought the property back in December from the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Todd McFarlane, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond said the space will offer educational programs and activities for youth transitioning into adulthood, such as SAT and ACT test prep, as well as financial aid and career counseling.

“We want to make sure that we’re providing kids who have an interest in exploring college the necessary resources to be able to do that,” McFarlane said. “We also understand that not all of our kids will go to college, so making sure we give them a path towards work right after high-school — identifying their interests, what those career paths could be and the necessary skills to be able to do them.”

McFarlane said the nonprofit aims to encourage youth to find their voice through advocacy and creative expression, like podcasting and making documentaries. 

“To be able to go out into the world and find their place, Boys and Girls Clubs want to help people and their families find a voice on the structural barriers that have been intentionally put on the city,” McFarlane said.

This will stand out from the nonprofit’s other locations around the city, in that the new space will focus on youth ages 15-23.

“This’ll be the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond’s only space that’s truly teen-centric. Our other clubs now are really built for 6 to 13-year-olds,” McFarlane said. 

But the space isn’t just for teens. The plans also include a collaborative hub with different organizations from the greater Richmond area, that would provide adult residents resources like mental health services.

The nonprofit fundraised $25 million, $5 million of which will be used for this project. $9 million will go toward expanding its staff in order to meet the needs of its growing communities.

Right now, development of the 16,000 square foot facility is still in the design phase. But construction is slated to begin in the summer of 2020, with a goal of getting the center open in the spring of 2021.