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Boys & Girls Club of Harlem faces possible after-school program closures

Boys & Girls Club feeling effects of end to pandemic-era funds for after-school programming
Boys & Girls Club feeling effects of end to pandemic-era funds for after-school programming 01:48

NEW YORK -- Earlier this year, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced an end to pandemic-era funds for after-school programming across the state in favor of a new plan. That decision may have a major impact on the children who rely on the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem.

The club offers enrichment for 2,200 kids in kindergarten through 12th grade, including college prep and paid internships, as well as the all-important after-school program at five nearby public schools and the clubhouse on West 145th Street.

"I grew up five blocks away from this clubhouse," said CEO Sharon Joseph. "I'm a first gen, so I'm really one of my kids. And what I realize is that in order for kids to be successful, it has to be more intentional."

Joseph said she was shocked when she learned that not only would the state stop funding the Advantage After School Program after the initial five years, the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem was not approved for the new funding pot Hochul established to replace it.

"We're determined to keep it open," Joseph said, "but the reality is we do have to consider closing programs."

She emphasized the impact these services have. Teen members like Quamique Marcial, who now works for the club as a youth development specialist, show how they are finding a future path to success through Wall Street internships.

"I've been able to learn new things at Roberts & Ryan and Mark Muller Equities," Marcial said. "They taught me valuable information, like stocks and buying and selling of the stocks."

Marcial hopes to take his interest in practical math back to his community by becoming a teacher, to be a role model for other kids like him.

"I want to make sure they can be great leaders because they're the next big thing," he said.

Joseph fears without these vital services, her students could turn to the streets.

"The dollar that we spend today will reap $3 in terms of our ROI," Joseph said. "However, if we wait until later, it's going to cost us $8 in all the social programs that we'll have to put these kids through."

Joseph's team is still working with lawmakers to find solutions, and they are launching a campaign to encourage 700 donors to pledge $1,000 to fill the gap.

The Boys & Girls Club of Harlem has the summer to come up with the funds before the start of next school year. To learn more, click here.

Have a story idea or tip in Harlem? Email Jessi by CLICKING HERE.

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