Youth center gets $90,000 grant

There will be enough money to keep the kids at the South Whidbey Youth Center busy during the next year.

Last week, center staff got word that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is sending SWYC $90,000 over the next three years. In November, $40,000 will go into the youth center’s checking account, followed by $30,000 in November 2002 and $20,000 in November 2003.

Mindy Magnusson, youth center director, said the money will go toward programs that include after-school drop-in hours at the youth center in Langley, a tutor/mentor program, Jobline and the Youth Leadership council.

“The funding will enhance our ability to serve South Whidbey youth by providing stable operating money for our four core programs,” Magnusson said.

With a 26 percent drop in individual and community donations in 2001 over the previous year, the Gates grant comes none too soon, Magnusson said.

The youth center recently added two staff members: program manager Holly Morgan, and Reva Albright, the youth center’s new Jobline coordinator. Jobline matches youths with jobs around South Whidbey. The center currently serves an average of 42 youths per day.

In addition to the program funding and new staff, the youth center will invite artists and computer techs to offer classes to students during the after school Drop-Inn, Magnusson said.

Beginning this month, artist Dawn Collins will be doing a six-part art series, helping students create a 5- by 8-foot wall hanging.

The Youth Leadership Council is looking into starting a late night teen club in the coming months. Magnusson said the council’s goal is to make this a weekly event with activities such as poetry readings, music, comedy, drama and dancing.

The South Whidbey Youth Center was founded in 1990 and is supported by grants and individual donations and endowments. The center has two government grants to fund substance abuse programs. This year’s budget is about $330,000.

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