GYAC Expansion Project
An expansion project at Gifford Youth Achievement Center (GYAC), which officials say will eliminate the organization’s growing wait list, officially kicked off June 28th with a celebration that included many who will ultimately benefit from the addition.
Students and staff from the GYAC’s summer programs joined volunteers, donors and government officials to mark the occasion with a traditional shovel ceremony.
The construction project is expected to be completed by next spring, said Angelia Perry, Executive Director.
“Over the past 10 years we’ve seen a 62 percent increase in our enrollment, to the point that we are now officially out of space,” Perry said. “More families than ever are asking for our help, but we are forced to turn away more than 60 children each year because we have no room for them.”
The 14,000-square-foot expansion, designed by Edlund Dritenbas Brinkley Architects and Associates and being built by Proctor Construction, will add eight multi-purpose learning rooms, including a specially equipped computer lab and two rooms geared for teenagers.
“In 1997 the graduation rate for African-American students had plummeted to below 30 percent and I knew something had to be done,” Dr. Hudson said. “With insight from the Progressive Civic League of Gifford, we brought forth the idea of combining recreation with academic support to both attract students and support them in their education.”
Twenty years later the graduation rate for African-American students has risen to 80 percent and many consider GYAC the catalyst for the improvement.
“GYAC’s academic programs are a game changer for many students,” Perry said. “This expansion is going to ensure more students can access after school and summer programs tailored to their needs. We operate with a mentality that there are no excuses to succeed.”
Last year, GYAC served 200 students and the commitment “no excuses” helped 98 percent of them improve their grades. Additionally, GYAC recently awarded 36 college scholarships to former students for the upcoming year.
“Between some significant leadership contributions and unanimous support from our board members, we are moving closer to meeting the need, but we are not there yet,” Bollinger said. “However, we have an extraordinary staff and generous donors, which over time have proven we are capable of delivering on our promises.”