ATLANTIC CITY (July 20, 2021) – The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority on Tuesday awarded a $2 million grant to the Boys & Girls Club for a community health program.
The Collaborative Health, Education and Community Model, a three-year initiative that will be funded by the grant, will allow club members to access mental and physical health care services at the teen center on Pennsylvania Avenue.
“We know we can’t just provide the educational and workforce opportunities,” Stephanie Koch, the club’s CEO, told the authority Tuesday. “We need to wrap around them (the youth) with mental and physical health care access.”
The teen center already provides young people in the city with career development opportunities in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), hospitality and health care.
Other programs offered at the club’s three locations in the resort include recreation and wellness, mentoring and leadership opportunities.
The services, which will be administered by health care professionals during after school hours, will include trauma-informed case management, behavioral health care, immunizations, sports physicals and STD education and tests.
Koch said she’s certain the services will be used since kids already see the club as a safe space.
“This is where they come to eat a warm meal, to meet with mentors,” Koch said. “We believe our young people will take advantage of these further opportunities of care.”
Rosa Farias, deputy executive director of the authority, said the expansion is the first of its kind in Atlantic City.
“(The expansion) addresses mind, body and spirit when it comes to developing our youth,” Farias said. “And given the year we’ve had, mental health care is definitely needed.”
Addressing health care needs was one of the concerns documented in a 2018 report from Jim Johnson, special counsel to Gov. Phil Murphy, on things the city needs to do to be returned to local control.
In the report, Johnson wrote that the city faces “severe public health challenges” that require a concerted effort.
“The state, the county and key stakeholders must combine forces to understand the depth of the problems, identify solutions and implement programs that will address the issues,” according to the report.
Additionally, the report noted significant disparities in care and outcomes between Black and white residents in the city.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the authority approved five tourism market expansion projects totaling $370,324.
Grants will be awarded to the Save Lucy Committee for Lucy the Elephant, the Latino Festival, the National Rhythm and Blues Music Society Inc. for free summer concerts at Gardner’s Basin, the Indian Cultural Festival and the Chicken Bone Beach Arts Jazz Concert in Brown’s Park.
Matt Doherty, executive director of the authority, said funding the events falls in line with the recommendations made in the Johnson report.
“It’s about having events in the city to bring communities together,” Doherty said about the grants. “These are the types of events that when we (the authority) fund them, we can make a real positive impact on city.”