Today, I am proud to stand alongside members of the Comcast family, Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation and community leaders to announce the Bold Change for Kids campaign, a $40 million capital campaign to provide funding for seven Boys & Girls Clubs across Philadelphia in dire need of renovation in order to properly support the growing needs of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable children.

The obstacles, sadly, are great:  extreme poverty, food insecurity, gang violence, and substance abuse are pervasive in our kids’ neighborhoods and home environments.

  • Up to 65% of our children live in poverty

  • Only 15% of Philadelphia’s 4th graders read proficiently

  • Up to 54% do not complete high school

  • Up to a 30% spike in violent crimes in some Philadelphia neighborhoods since 2012

The opportunities are out of reach: poor high school graduation rates and chronic unemployment are a result of woefully underfunded schools and blighted business districts in our communities. Despite these statistics, we are able to offer hope.  Boys & Girls Club members hold in their hearts not just their future, but the future of the community, of our grand city of Philadelphia.

Comcast Corporation Senior Executive Vice President David L. Cohen has taken the lead as Chairman of the Bold Change for Kids campaign—with David’s leadership, the Roberts family and the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation are jumpstarting the campaign with an $8 million donation to help kick-start the effort and rebuild the Germantown Boys & Girls Club; a century old building in distress and critical need of maintenance.

In recognition of this gift, paired with Comcast’s longstanding partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs in Philadelphia and across the country, we will name the new Germantown facility the Ralph J. Roberts Boys & Girls Club. In doing so, we are honoring Comcast’s founder Ralph Roberts’ vision, leadership and dedication to Philadelphia and inspiring all kids, both young and old.

Ralph’s commitment to improving the lives of others traces back more than 70 years when, as a 17-year-old, he served as a counselor to underprivileged boys in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. That commitment to serving others permeates through Comcast NBCUniversal, as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia has seen time and time again. From sending hundreds of employees and their families to volunteer at our Clubs on Comcast Cares Day and building and equipping digital literacy labs in our Clubs, to sponsoring our most important local events and having employees serve on our Board, Comcast is always there for us. This dedication is also evident nationwide: Comcast NBCUniversal has supported local Boys & Girls Clubs for 15 years, providing more than $90 million in cash and in-kind contributions since 2009 alone.

The Ralph J. Roberts Boys & Girls Club will transform the lives of Philadelphia’s youth, many of whom live below the poverty line in a community where the violent crime rate is over 10 times the national average. The Club will house an Internet Essentials Lab, Digital Literacy Center, STEM lab, art room, Kids Café, dance room, music studio, social recreation space, several classrooms, and a double gym  that can host soccer, basketball, and volleyball leagues. Adjacent to the double gym will be a full-size ice rink operated by the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, whose mission is to use the sport of hockey to build lives, unite communities and help educate young people to succeed in the game of life. 

The Club will also undergo programming changes to increase the number of youth served by 250 percent, providing even more local kids with the right tools to help them achieve academic success, healthy lifestyles, and build good character and citizenship. Club kids will have access to My.Future, a program provided in partnership with BCGA and Comcast NBCUniversal that teaches Club kids about our digital world and inspires passion about the endless possibilities that technology offers.

The Bold Change for Kids campaign will provide significant renovations at six other clubs located in some of Philadelphia’s most economically distressed communities to address maintenance needs that have been deferred for decades, and will update amenities and technologies to better serve and increase the number of youth served. Other Clubs benefitting from the Bold Change for Kids campaign include: Northeast Frankford, Wayne Avenue, Shane Victorino Nicetown, Bridesburg, Wissahickon, and Police Officer Lauretha Vaird Clubs.

With the updates to the six existing Clubs and the building of the Ralph J. Roberts Boys & Girls Club, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia will become one of the premier Boys & Girls Club organizations in the country and will have the ability to positively impact the lives of a greater number of area youth.

The leadership of the Comcast family and Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation is greatly valued, appreciated and needed now more than ever as we embark on this Bold Change for Kids.