SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield Boys & Girls Club (SBGS) received a substantial $10,000 grant from the KeyBank Foundation, the charitable arm of KeyBank, to support the club’s Brain Gain Program.

This afterschool initiative is designed to bolster grade-level reading skills for inner-city, at-risk children and youth who are served by the club. A ceremonial check was presented to SBGS leadership, staff, and youth members at a check presentation event hosted on Wednesday, October 18th at the Boys and Girls Club on Carew Street in Springfield.

Executive Director Vinnie Borello of the Boys and Girls Club expressed gratitude for KeyBank’s steadfast commitment to children’s education. “This generous gift from the KeyBank Foundation is a much-needed investment in our community. It enables us to create a fun and engaging learning environment, helping our kids expand their reading skills. We greatly appreciate KeyBank’s support.”

The majority of children served by the Springfield Boys & Girls Club come from low-income families, with 65% raised in homes where English is a second language. This places them at a disadvantage concerning reading, retention, and school learning. Moreover, many students are still recovering from learning loss experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic’s remote learning phase.

The Brain Gain Program aims to address these challenges by enhancing reading comprehension and retention skills, ensuring that participants are reading at grade level at a minimum. The SBGS employs specialized software programs to support the curriculum and provides Chromebook computers and internet access to children who may otherwise lack access to such essential learning tools and technology.

“To sit and be able to offer access for our students, to be able to come in and to use Chromebooks and to read and to have that one-on-one time with an instructor I think is critical,” said KeyBank Corporate Responsibility Officer, Analisha Michanczyk.

Michanczyk emphasized the foundation’s belief in supporting organizations and programs that facilitate students’ success in school, leading to good grades, eventual graduation, and access to college and career-building opportunities. She stated, “The Boys and Girls Club’s Brain Gain program is an effective way to help kids build literacy skills and perform better in school, and we are proud to support their efforts.”

Borello adds, “We can hopefully get them reading at much higher levels and really loving reading and writing.”

KeyBank Foundation directs financial resources to nonprofits within KeyBank’s service areas, focusing on helping students achieve academic success, with a particular emphasis on minority and low to moderate-income populations. KeyBank operates seven retail bank branches throughout greater Springfield. This grant reflects KeyBank’s dedication to empowering the community and fostering educational advancement for underserved youth.

The new grant will help the Brain Gain Program expand from a summer program to a 40-week program. This grant will also enable the club to purchase new books and other materials to help children improve their reading skills.

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