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Science

VBGCQ Announces Partnership, $1.25M Grant for New Science Lab, STEM Program

ASTORIA, NY – The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens (VBGCQ) on January 10 announced a new partnership with the Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) clean energy transmission line to construct a state-of-the-art Boys & Girls Clubhouse in Astoria, NY. This transformative project will expand the number of young people served by the Club’s educational programming from 4,000 to more than 16,000, many of whom come from families who struggle economically.

In a first of its kind private contribution to the new Boys & Girls Club, the $1.25 million community investment by CHPE will fund a new STEM science lab and programming with a focus on climate and energy innovation. The new science labs are scheduled to open in 2026 and provide science programming for children from grades K through 8th.

“We are grateful for this contribution to our project that will transform the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens into a state of the art hub for education and innovation for all residents of Queens,” said Costa Constantinides, CEO of VBGCQ. It is proof that the developer of the Champlain Hudson Power Express project is here to stay, to be a good neighbor not just by reducing the fossil generation that has plagued our families for years, but by contributing to this exciting project that will provide opportunity to the children of Astoria for decades to come. We are hopeful that others who come into our community to develop projects will see this as a catalyst for investment in our neighborhoods which is a win/win for everyone.”

“The Champlain Hudson Power Express team is excited about todays announcement which supports the Variety Boys & Girls Club commitment to serving the local community,” said Hydro-Québec President and CEO Sophie Brochu and TDI CEO Don Jessome. “Its our hope that the partnership in this 21st century science lab will provide life changing experiences and open career pathways in the clean economy for the youth living in Queens.”

The Champlain Hudson Power Express Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens Stem Lab rendering. Photo: Courtesy of Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens

The $1.25M grant is the first ever to be awarded by the CHPE Community Engagement Fund, which supports community capital projects in neighborhoods that will host the 1,250 MW buried clean energy transmission line. The CHPE Community Engagement Fund invests in projects focused on education, science, and environmental and social justice. The Champlain Hudson Power Express clean energy project will begin delivering renewable energy directly into Astoria Queens in 2025 to help reduce reliance on fossil fuel power generation and its associated local air pollution that has negative health impacts on frontline communities, especially in Western Queens’ “Asthma Alley.

“Im so thrilled that the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens will be receiving a major donation for the construction of a science lab and STEM programming,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. Our children are our future, and I can think of no better way to support them and our planet than providing educational resources in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. With this new donation for a science lab and STEM programming at the Club, there is no limit to what these kids and this Club can do. I want to thank Costa Constantinides for his leadership at the helm of the Variety Boys and Girls Club, and congratulations on this incredible partnership.”

“The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens is already a vitally important institution in our borough — one with an even brighter future thanks to this critical allocation courtesy of Hydro-Quebec, TDI and the historic Champlain Hudson Power Express project,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr. “The impact this funding will have on the education and overall future of our children is immeasurable. Queens is deeply grateful to our clean energy and community partners for securing this investment on behalf of our borough.”

“The board of directors at Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens looks forward to this long-term relationship with Champlain Hudson Power Express,” said Walter Sanchez, Board of Directors President of VBGCQ. “We are convinced that the state of the art STEM lab this contribution enables us to build will help us to capture the passion of thousands of youth in the neighborhood. With this lab, not only will the short term goal of fulfilling the lives of our children be enhanced, but the future of energy in our region is obviously in good hands.”

Also among those present were Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Grech, Old Astoria Neighborhood Association (OANA) President Richard Khuzami, Queens Deputy Borough President Ebony Young, Transmission Developers Vice President of External Affairs Jennifer White, Mega Contracting Group Development Manager Emanuel Kokinakis, VBGCQ Former Club Kid and Front Desk Receptionist Treasure Hodge, New YorkHydro-Quebec Director for Stakeholder Relations Peter Rose, and VBGCQ Board of Directors Member Frank “Turtle” Raffaele.

Part of New York State’s comprehensive renewable energy vision to reduce by 80% New York City’s reliance on fossil fuels by 2030, CHPE will deliver reliable renewable power for more than 1 million homes and businesses across the city. The buried transmission line- scheduled to begin construction later this year- will lower greenhouse gas emissions, create 1,400 good-paying jobs and generate billions of dollars in new investment in New Yorks economy while delivering affordable renewable energy across the state.

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