Councilmember Margarita Lopez and Mayor Mike Bloomberg Tuesday at a breakfast for the Lower East Side Girls Club.
Bloomberg kicks in $2.5 million more for Girls Club
By Nancy Reardon
The Lower East Side Girls Club received $2.5 million from the city this week, bringing New Yorks first and only Girls Club just over the halfway mark in its capital campaign to build its own facilities.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the contribution with Councilmember Margarita Lopez at the Fourth Annual International Womens Day Breakfast for Business and Community Leaders at the National Arts Club on Tuesday. The Girls Club was the focus of this years breakfast.
Im happy to join you today in an exciting step with the girls of the Lower East Side, said Bloomberg.
This weeks contribution marks the second by the mayor, who committed $500,000 to the project last year.
The group still has to raise about $5 million for the construction of its $12 million, 48,000-sq.-ft., five-story building, said Lyn Pentecost, the executive director.
I always knew it would happen, she said. I just didnt know how. I left things to Providence and it worked. The girls on the Lower East Side deserve this.
Lopez has been lobbying for the Girls Club over the years. This building will help reduce teen pregnancy, she said. It will help girls to understand that their full potential is not staying home.
The new facility on Avenue D will have a career center, as well as an academic support center and library. Bloomberg said these new facilities will help the Girls Club prepare girls for careers and emphasize the value of education.
There are more and more jobs available to women, and women just dont know about, he said. The world is changing not as fast as most people may like but we are going in the right direction.
The Girls Club was founded in 1996 to offer programs to about 350 low-income girls and their families, but has never had a true home base. The non-profit has operated out of seven different sites, some as crude as the back room of a store and a basement. The new facility will allow it to serve more than 1,500 girls.
In 2002, the Economic Development Corporation gave the Girls Club control of six city-owned lots on Avenue D between 7th and 8th Sts. for the site of a new facility. The plans include a commercial kitchen, retail café, 70-seat screening room, gallery, counseling center, technology center and art studios, according to a Girls Club newsletter.
The Girls Club is not the only beneficiary of the project. About 13,000 square feet of space on the lot will be used for not-for-profit tenants, and 15,000 square feet of studio space will be leased to the Federation of East Village Artists, according to a mayoral press release. Rooftop antennas on the building will provide free high-speed Internet access to residents of two neighboring public housing developments.
Aside from these advantages, the community has been very supportive of the Girls Club throughout its campaign, said Pentecost. When we call out for a woman to take a girl to work, we get 100, she said. People really do want to see this happen. So its never been a dispirited struggle.