New teen center to serve Belle Glade area
WEST PALM BEACH — Under the chairmanship of Ethel Isaacs Williams, Quantum Foundation is working to make Palm Beach County healthier, and its recent grant cycle for the last quarter of 2019 totaled $901,840 to fund Palm Beach County-based nonprofits.
Quantum Foundation’s mission is to fund initiatives that improve the health of Palm Beach County residents. In 1998, Quantum Foundation marked its rookie year as one of Palm Beach County’s newest and largest philanthropic organizations with an impressive $7.6 million granted to more than 40 Palm Beach County projects. Just over 20 years later, with assets of approximately $155 million, the organization’s focus remains on keeping Palm Beach County healthy. Their awards to date total more than $145 million and have impacted hundreds of local nonprofit organizations. Every dollar the foundation grants continues to stay in the county to benefit local communities.
Of the ten grants allocated for the fourth quarter of 2019, $250,000 was distributed to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County for the Smith & Moore Family Teen Center to serve teens and families in the Belle Glade area.
“Quantum Foundation recognizes an individual’s opportunity to live a healthy life is determined by more than healthcare alone,” said Eric Kelly, president of Quantum Foundation. “Poor socioeconomic circumstances for families can often lead to negative health outcomes persisting in a community. Programming at the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Smith & Moore Family Teen Center will provide an intervention to these negative social determinants of health for families in the Glades community.”
Construction has already started on the 13,860 square-foot building, which is on target to open in March 2020. The center is an expansion of programming already offered in the area, but the need is great enough to expand.
“The partnership between the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County and Quantum Foundation on the Smith & Moore Family Teen Center in Belle Glade was a natural fit,” said Jaene Miranda, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. “Both organizations recognized a need in the Belle Glade community for the work our career readiness center will provide, including exposure to the many opportunities provided by a healthcare career. We are very fortunate to have come together to make this project a reality.”
The new teen center will house a digital media studio, makerspace, technology lab, culinary arts studio, and career readiness hub. “We are trying to break the cycle of the incredibly high poverty rates in the Glades and narrow the health disparities by increasing high school graduation rates, building essential life skills, and preparing members for post-secondary success,” Miranda said. “In turn, that will increase access to health and improve the community participation and health outcome.”
Teens will be introduced to many career paths in high-growth industries (healthcare, information technology, STEM, and culinary arts) and the requisite educational tracts. The organization estimates that by 2023, the center will serve 900 Glades-area teenagers who lack access to programs that foster the knowledge, skills, academic success, personal attributes and employment experience required to be college or career ready.
“Poverty rates in the Glades are incredibly high,” Miranda said. “In Belle Glade, it’s 36 percent of the population; in Pahokee, it’s 34 percent; and South Bay, that number is 38 percent. Comparatively, the poverty rate in Palm Beach County is 14.5 percent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 40 percent of families in the Glades with children under the age of 18 live below the poverty guidelines. Among Teen Center members, 55 percent of all members’ households earn less than $19,000 and 74 percent of households earn less than $29,000 per year, placing many well below the federal poverty level. Additionally, 61 percent of members reside in single-parent or other non-traditional family households. Those numbers are proof that we need to focus on the five overarching patterns we believe will help curb the social determinants that go along with poverty: academic and career readiness, the arts, character and leadership, healthy lifestyle and sports recreation and fitness.”
The center is targeted for middle and high school students, ages 12-18. The programming is already instilling self-worth into the students. “The Boys & Girls Clubs helped me in so many ways,” said Sulvamette S., a Smith & Moore Family Teen Center Club member. “One of the biggest changes I credit from being a Club member is an increase in confidence. With my new-found confidence, I decided to run for student body president, and I won! I am now a nominee for Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County Youth of the Year.”
The name Smith & Moore reflects the donations of the Hon. Lesly Smith, former mayor of Palm Beach, and Danielle H. Moore, a member of the Palm Beach Town Council, for their efforts to support the capital campaign.
The construction of the new building is also providing jobs to local Belle Glade residents as priority was set on hiring people from that area.
Other grants in this recent cycle included:
• Children’s Bereavement Center (Palm Beach County) – Palm Beach Full-Service Site - $50,000
• Place of Hope (West Palm Beach) – Education and Awareness Campaign - $100,000
Groups funded by Quantum Foundation must meet strict grant criteria and must be classified as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All grants must benefit the people of Palm Beach County. For information about Quantum Foundation, or to learn about applying for grants, please visit www.quantumfnd.org/ or call 561-832-7497.