Community Impact

Boys & Girls Clubs Of Philadelphia Launches 'A Bold Change For Kids' Campaign

Philadelphia, PA.

The $40 million initiative will include funding for a new ‘Ralph J. Roberts Boys & Girls Club’ in Germantown and an Ed Snider youth hockey foundation ice rink. Six additional Boys & Girls clubs will receive a major overhaul.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia (BGCP) announced today the kickoff of "A Bold Change for Kids," a $40 million capital campaign that will greatly benefit thousands of youth who attend Clubs throughout Philadelphia. About half of the funds raised will be used to build a new, state-of-the-art Boys & Girls Club in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood, as well as a new ice hockey rink which will be operated by the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation.  The remaining funds will be used to renovate six additional Clubs in the Philadelphia area.  The Roberts family and the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation are jumpstarting the campaign with an $8 million donation, and David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation, will serve as the campaign chair.

In honor of Comcast’s founder Ralph J. Roberts and his commitment to Philadelphia, as well as Comcast’s longstanding partnership with the BGCP and nationally, the new Germantown Club will be named the Ralph J. Roberts Boys & Girls Club.  This is especially appropriate because Ralph lived in Germantown when he first moved to Philadelphia and he and the company have had a special connection to the Germantown community ever since.

"Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia offer life-changing opportunities for kids, and we are pleased to be able to give back to them to support their efforts. It gives me so much pride when I hear the stories of the youth who attend these Clubs because they are choosing to select a positive path in life, and we are thankful to be able to contribute to providing them with a world-class facility to learn, grow, and play," said Cohen.  

Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, added that, "We are incredibly honored and humbled that Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia has decided to name the new Germantown Club after Comcast’s founder, Ralph Roberts.  His commitment to Philadelphia is immeasurable, and we look forward to seeing the next generation of leaders that come through Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia."

The Ralph J. Roberts Boys & Girls Club will be one of the most technologically-advanced Clubs in the country and will include an Internet Essentials Lab, Digital Literacy Center, STEM lab, art room, Kids Café, dance room, music studio, social recreation space, several classrooms, a double gym that can host soccer, basketball, and volleyball leagues, as well as an adjacent full-size ice hockey rink.

The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation will build and operate this new ice rink in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club. The Foundation provides more than 3,000 underserved boys and girls the opportunity to play hockey with an emphasis on character development, life skills, fitness, nutrition and academics. Snider Hockey currently operates its programs at five other public rinks in the City of Philadelphia, as well as the Flyers Skate Zone in Pennsauken, NJ. All of Snider Hockey youth programs including ice time, coaching, equipment, travel, and academic services are delivered at no cost to city residents. 

"We’re thrilled to partner with the Germantown Boys & Girls Club and Comcast on this wonderful project," said Ed Snider. "This project is congruent with the mission of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, which is to build lives and unite communities. We’re excited and can’t wait for the children, youth, and families of this neighborhood to be able to enjoy the new Ralph J. Roberts Boys and Girls Club and our newest Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation location."

The 128-year-old Germantown Club was one of the first chartered Boys Clubs in the nation. Today, more than 7,000 youth ages 5 to 18 live within a 1.5 mile-radius of the Club. Within this same area, 50 percent of children live below the poverty line. The violent crime rate in Germantown is 38 per 1,000 — over 10 times the national average and three times greater than the overall rate in Philadelphia.

"Since 1887, the staff at the Germantown Boys & Girls Club has guided, listened to, advocated for and learned from these kids, who sometimes live in unimaginable circumstances. Kids for whom domestic violence, abuse, neglect and poverty were not issues they heard about on television, but tragic realities that touched their everyday lives.  At the Club, the phrase ‘at-risk youth‘ is not an abstract concept, but rather a description that reminds us of the faces and names of real kids we have come to know—smart, brave and inspiring—kids we’ll never forget," said Joseph and Lisabeth Marziello, CEOs of Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia. "We are so thankful to the Roberts family, the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, and Comcast for helping us to launch this campaign, providing hope and opportunity for the youth of our city so they have the ability to succeed."

The distressed conditions of the current Clubs present significant challenges and concerns.  Many of the buildings date back decades or more, and critical maintenance needs have been neglected over time due to lack of funding. Now, as boilers fail, floors slant, and broken windows accumulate, BGCP can no longer continue to just patch the buildings up year after year.  The six additional Philadelphia Clubs that will receive extensive repairs are: Bridesburg Boys & Girls Club, Northeast Frankford Boys & Girls Club, Police Officer Lauretha Vaird Boys & Girls Club, Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys & Girls Club, Wayne Avenue Boys & Girls Club, and Wissahickon Boys & Girls Club.

Utilizing the support of community leaders, the new and renovated Clubs will create safe and fun learning spaces for Philadelphia’s youth, expanding the number of youth served by 250 percent and addressing these children’s needs more comprehensively through innovative literacy, STEM, healthy lifestyles, and career-building programming.

"Despite inheriting a nearly $2 million deficit and dilapidated buildings, Joseph and Lisabeth Marziello have been able to completely rebuild our organization since joining in 2012. Together, they have brought new transformational life to our Clubs. Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia are extremely fortunate to have these two visionary leaders who have brought financial and programmatic accountability and sustainability along with a professional pride through quality staff, facilities and clearly defined standards," said Mike Cola, Board Chair, Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia.

In November, Comcast NBCUniversal announced a new, five-year agreement with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) valued at tens of millions of dollars and launched a new technology program, called My.Future to teach Club kids about our digital world and get them passionate about the endless possibilities that technology offers. As part of that announcement, Comcast renovated four BGCA Clubs, including the Wayne Avenue Boys & Girls Club, with new state-of-the-art technologies. More recently, Comcast renovated a My.Future lab at the Northeast Frankford Boys & Girls Club as part of the 14th annual Comcast Cares Day and provided $50,000 in grants to support property improvements and equipping the lab.

Comcast has supported Boys & Girls Clubs for nearly 15 years, providing approximately $90 million in cash and in-kind contributions since 2009 alone. 

Others who have stepped up to help BGCP champion "A Bold Change for Kids" by participating on the board are Howie Roseman of the Philadelphia Eagles, Pete Musser of The Musser Group, Robert Ross of Ross Feller Casey, Philadelphia Councilwoman Cindy Bass, and Michael Cola of Medgenics.

For information on how to contribute to the Bold Change for Kids campaign, please contact Lisabeth Marziello at 215-735-8818 or email boldchanges@bgcphila.org.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia

For more than 128 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia have been dedicated to ensuring that Philadelphia’s youth have a safe, positive alternative to the negative influences that plague our local neighborhoods. As Philadelphia’s premier youth guidance and development agency, Boys & Girls Clubs provide fun and engaging educational programs for thousands of kids annually, ages 6 to 19 years, at 12 of Philadelphia’s most neglected and impoverished neighborhoods. Staff direct life-enhancing programs for youth in five core areas: Character & Leadership Development, Education & Career Development, Health & Life Skills, Arts & Culture, and Sports, Fitness & Recreation. Learn more at www.BGCPhila.org.

About Comcast Corporation:

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is a global media and technology company with two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is the nation’s largest video, high-speed Internet and phone provider to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. NBCUniversal operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures and Universal Parks and Resorts. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.