Boys and Girls Club Receives Major Grant

Organization expects more than $1 million over five years for new middle and high school programs

By Molly Priddy
Cindy Hooker, Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Glacier Country. Beacon File Photo

The Boys and Girls Club of Glacier Country recently received a grant that will allow the organization to start a program for middle and high school students in Columbia Falls.

The 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, which will provide more than $1 million over five years, will get the new programs started and paid for with $228,000 each year for five years.

“We wanted to start a middle school and high school program because we don’t serve those age groups,” Cindy Hooker, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Glacier Country, said.

She got the news that the group had won the grant a couple of weeks ago, and it was a welcome message.

“I was so excited I was crying,” Hooker said. “It took two months of work to get that application written.”

The Boys and Girls Club is supposed to offer K-12 services, Hooker said, and those have not been available. Now, with the grant money, the club hopes to start the programs as it also continues the process of finding a permanent home.

Hooker said the programs will start in Columbia Falls, and once they are established, the organization hopes to bring them to other areas of the valley, such as Evergreen.

Currently, the Glacier Country club is still in the early stages of an eventual public capital campaign for a new facility, and none of the recently received grant money is eligible for such a project.

“This grant money is very specific to what it has to be used for, and doesn’t eliminate the fact that we still need funds for general operations,” Hooker said.

The middle and high school programs will start in Columbia Falls regardless of the building situation, she said; high school students will meet in the Columbia Falls High School library after school. They have yet to find a location for the middle school kids to meet, Hooker said.

Grant funds are just the start, Hooker said. Once the programs get rolling, the valley will have a better idea of what this organization can bring to the communities here, she said.

“We can only do one thing at a time,” she said. “Once people see what you’re trying to accomplish and what you’re doing and that you’re doing it well, then you get more support throughout the valley.”

The club also expects to have a new website in the next couple of weeks, Hooker said, which will provide more information on volunteer opportunities, as well as how to donate funds.

Until then, anyone with questions can call (406) 897-3343 or email [email protected].

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