Nonprofit is close to fundraising ‘finish line’ for the soon-to-open Youth Center, thanks to the Del E. Webb Foundation and donations from community members
GRASS VALLEY, Calif. – Bright Futures for Youth has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the Del E. Webb Foundation for the new NEO Youth Center under construction at its offices on Litton Hill in Grass Valley.
The foundation’s grant is the single-largest source of funding for the NEO Youth Center, currently under construction and expected to open in the early fall. The 3,700-square-foot Youth Center will provide after-school and weekend activities and events for children and young adults.
In December, Bright Futures for Youth started a capital campaign to raise $500,000 for the NEO Youth Center, the largest-ever fundraising effort for the organization. With the Del E. Webb Foundation grant, Bright Futures for Youth has raised 95% of the funding needed for the Youth Center.
“We greatly appreciate the Del E. Webb Foundation grant and its support for our efforts to fill an incredible need in our community for young people to have a safe and supervised place to connect with each other, learn new skills and just have fun,” said Jennifer Litton Singer, Executive Director of Bright Futures for Youth. “The community has also been extremely generous with its support and enthusiastically embraces the vision of the NEO Youth Center. We are getting closer to the capital campaign goal, but we still need more donations to put us over the finish line.”
The NEO Youth Center will be located on the ground floor of the Litton Building at 200 Litton Drive. The well-known building is already home to Bright Futures for Youth’s three programs – The Friendship Club, NEO and SAFE, which opened an on-site Drop-in-Center last year for children and young adults experiencing homelessness.
The NEO Youth Center will be available for 11- to 25-year-old residents and will offer a long list of activities and events, from art workshops to live music and open-mic nights. The Youth Center includes an area for board and video games, and a café, sponsored through a $40,000 Rotary District grant from the Rotary of Grass Valley, Rotary Club of Grass Valley South, Rotary Club of Nevada City, and 49er Rotary Breakfast Club.
Several hundred youth participate every year in NEO’s after-school programs, summer camps and weekend activities. NEO will expand activities and connect with more young people with the Youth Center.
The previous NEO Youth Center closed in early 2020, just as the Covid pandemic arrived and greatly limited get-togethers amid health and safety requirements. Since then, NEO program participants have been meeting in smaller groups on the second floor of the Bright Futures for Youth building.
Bright Futures for Youth had been looking for the best available location for the NEO Youth Center for the past few years.
“It’s the best-possible location for the Youth Center,” said Halli Ellis-Edwards, cofounder and Program Director of NEO. The Friendship Club and NEO merged in 2020, and was renamed Bright Futures for Youth. “There’s some crossover and great synergy between our programs, and we can more effectively serve youth under one roof, in a safe space where they can explore their passions, gain leadership skills and build friendships.”
The NEO Youth Center will allow children and young adults to learn from their peers and meet with mentors. They will also have access to much- needed services such as healthy meals, warm clothes, health care and counseling services, if needed.
“The NEO Youth Center is much more than a place, it’s a special space where young people can make new friends, relax and get what they need,” said Bright Futures for Youth Board President Greg Bulanti, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Grass Roots Realty. “The Del E. Webb Foundation’s generous grant and the donations by individuals and small-business owners are an investment in the next generation and in the future of our community.”
The Del E. Webb Foundation also awarded a grant in 2019 to Bright Futures for Youth to help build a commercial kitchen on-site where 150 meals are prepared every week.