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General News

VBGCQ Receives $752,250 from U.S. Sen. Schumer, Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Maloney

ASTORIA – Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens (VBGCQ) received $502,250 from U.S. Senator Schumer and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez to provide mental health and supportive services, and $250,000 from former Rep. Maloney for job readiness programming in their Teen Academy. This funding was included in the spending bill passed by both houses of Congress on December 23.

Funding for the Teen Academy will allow Variety to hire social workers and other mental health professionals to assist teens with loss of family members and loss of income to adult family members as a result of the pandemic, providing meaningful support for young people to thrive as they approach adulthood. Additionally, funding for job readiness programming is intended to hire a college counselor and staff to provide free SAT/ACT prep. Not all students are ready for college and the Teen Academy aims to give the tools to thrive in the areas they are interested in. The funds will enable Variety to make the necessary improvements to the existing Teen Academy and expand outreach.

“I’m proud to deliver these federal funds to the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens which will provide essential support to youth and families who have lost loved ones and income due to the pandemic,” said Senator Schumer. “This funding will bolster Variety’s Teen Academy resources involving mental health care to help teens cope with tremendous loss and guide them into adulthood. The Teen Academy provides meaningful support to our community’s young people and will expand its outreach to assist more local teens.”

“This mental health programming is deeply needed, with young people reporting mental illness at higher rates than any previous generation. My office is committed to supporting Astoria’s Boys and Girls Club, especially in light of the attacks on their City funding earlier this year. Overall, we are excited to bring home $15.85 million for community organizations and local projects to NY-14, which will improve street safety, expand workforce training in green jobs, and create new Pre-K programs, among other advances,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.

“Our teens require more support in a world ravaged by the pandemic of COVID. Providing meaningful mental health services, along with job training and college readiness will allow us to guide the leaders of the 21st century here at the Variety Boys and Girls Club. The federal funding provided by Senator Schumer, Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Maloney is greatly appreciated and will go a long way. Thank you to these leaders for investing in our young people. Our teen academy is ready to help our teens soar in 2023, thanks to this critical federal funding!” said Costa Constantinides, CEO of the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens

Variety’s Teen Academy supports youth ages 13 to 18 in the local Astoria and Long Island City community as it is clear there is a need for afterschool services for junior high and high schools. The Director of the Teen Academy works closely with members, providing small group classes and individual mentoring to help teens explore the different paths they can take. It provides local youth with the guidance and support they need to complete their schoolwork, prepare for their college education and their future career journeys. Some programs include the College and Career Readiness Program, which teaches teens valuable skills in financial literacy, self-advocacy, and goal-setting.

The Teen Academy’s College & Career Readiness Program offers free college and career readiness instruction to underserved high school students living in Queens. VBGCQ serves members of the Long Island City and Astoria communities, many of whom live in one of the nearby NYC Housing Authority residences or qualify for free or reduced price lunch. Their services are essential as research shows that children from low-income households are eight times less likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree than children born into higher-income families (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). The Teen Academy works to lessen this opportunity gap so that all children, regardless of income, race, or family background, can have equal opportunity to choose the college or career path that is right for them.

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