Foundation For Youth in Columbus has won a regional award from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America based on increases in attendance.

The Midwest Region Silver Level Gateway to Impact Award, presented during this fall’s Midwest Leadership Conference, recognized clubs that have had exceptional increases in their average daily attendance, as well as the frequency of attendance.

Foundation For Youth, located at 405 Hope Ave., is the umbrella organization for a variety of youth programming, including the Boys & Girls Club of Columbus.

The Columbus club saw a 19 percent increase in average attendance from 2014 to 2015 and a 24 percent increase so far this year, numbers that are watched closely because of a correlation to graduation rates, FFY executive director Chuck Kime said. The average number of students attending each day after school went from 112 in 2014 to 133 in 2015 and has increased to more than 175 this year, Kime said.

“We track our attendance closely. This is because national data from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America has shown that high school graduation rates are improved significantly with attendance,” Kime said. “If a child attends a quality club 52 or more times in a year, the likelihood of (high school) graduation increases.”

Boys & Girls Club director Nathan Larrison and his staff have incorporated more hands-on science, technology, engineering and math activities, and have incorporated Universal Design for Learning concepts practiced at Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., steps to make programming more appealing to youth, Kime said.

Larrison attributes the increased attendance to more awareness of club and its options, available every day after school. Some of these options include swimming, arts and crafts classes, gym, cooking classes and foosball, paired with positive and caring adult staff members.

“We’re proud of our club, and this award simply recognizes that we are reaching kids,” Kime said.

The club’s goals moving forward are to maintain its current level of attendance and grow within the available space to assist more families needing 100 percent scholarships, Larrison said.

The club plans to offer $46,000 in 100 percent scholarships in 2017, thanks to efforts by the board, resource development department and support of United Way, he said.

Boys & Girls Club

Boys & Girls Club of Columbus is an organization that provides after-schools programs for children ages 5 to 18. It’s mission is to provide a safe place for children to learn, create ongoing relationships with adult professionals and more all through fun and educational activities.

Where: The club is located at Foundation for Youth, 405 Hope Ave., Columbus.

What: Program areas include character and leadership development, education and career development, the Arts, health and life skills and more.

When: After school from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily.

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at kevener@therepublic.com or 812-379-5633.