Simplified: Boys and Girls Club of the Sioux Empire announced this week plans to build a new facility at George McGovern Middle School. It's part of a community-wide effort to ensure kids across town have a place to go after school. Here's what you need to know.
Why it matters
- Thousands of Sioux Falls kids don't currently have a place to go after school, according to a 2018 Augustana Research Intitute study. It's research that helped create a new Community Learning Center model at all of Sioux Falls' elementary schools in the last year.
- The Boys & Girls Club is already serving kids across the city, but with an addition to George McGovern Middle School, they'll be taking a more direct approach by eliminating barriers to get kids involved. It's a model that could potentially be replicated in other schools in town, said Rebecca Wimmer, coordinator of community partnerships for the district.
- The new facility will attach directly to the school building, and all students will be eligible to attend after-school programming at no cost, Boys & Girls Club CEO Stacy Jones said. It'll include a teaching kitchen, an innovation lab, a full-sized gymnasium, and a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) classroom.
"They’re not just hanging out," Jones said. "They are going to be experiencing things from culinary classes to virtual reality to business development. It really depends on what the interests are of the students, and we'll meet those interests with effective and really exciting programming."
How did we get here?
The Sioux Falls School District has been looking at after-school options for middle schoolers for years.
- Wimmer – who formerly led the Boys and Girls Club before moving on to work for the school district – said conversations date as far back as five years ago when a group of middle school principals took a trip to Omaha to see similar on-site after-school programming.
"Specifically the George McGovern principal came back and said, 'Look, if we want to change the future of our kids, this is what they need,'" Wimmer said.
The work really kicked into gear over the last couple of years as the district worked to implement the Community Learning Center model at elementary schools.
What will the new facility have to offer?
The space, funded entirely by donations to the Boys & Girls Club, will be 16,000 square feet and will include:
- A STEAM classroom
- An innovation lab
- A full gymnasium
- A teaching kitchen,
- And social spaces for kids.
What happens next?
Construction on the new Boys & Girls Club at George McGovern Middle School is expected to begin spring 2024 with an opening by fall 2025.
How can I support this effort?
The Boys & Girls Club is still actively fundraising to support the furnish the facility and provide ongoing support to the kids who will spend time there. Learn more about how you can contribute here.