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Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Staples Foundation for Learning Announce Finalists of National Service Project

Public Invited to Vote on Youth Projects that Create Positive Change in the Environment

Thursday, March 25, 2010 8:00 am EDT

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ATLANTA

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"Participation in service learning and community service projects result in many social and personal achievements for youth"

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), and Staples Foundation for Learning, a private foundation created by Staples, Inc., today announced the five finalists of the Staples Foundation for Learning National Service Project Awards. The annual initiative invites Boys & Girls Club Torch Club members to take action in addressing environmental issues within their communities.

For the second year in a row the theme of the award is BE GREAT. BE GREEN. Staples Foundation for Learning and Boys & Girls Clubs of America will recognize youth-led programs that reinforce the importance of caring for the environment through renewing, preserving and beautifying outdoor spaces. Torch Clubs are chartered, small groups for Boys & Girls Club members, ages 11 to 13, which focus on the development of character and leadership skills. The five Torch Club finalist teams will now advance to the national Staples Foundation for Learning National Service Project Award competition. The grand prize winner will win a $2,500 cash award. The second-place winner will receive a $1,000 cash award and the remaining finalists will each receive $500.

A panel of expert judges will help determine the grand-prize winner. Judges will include Jenn Savedge, environmental journalist, Jim Caulfield, senior vice president, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Rajeev Kapur, founder of Greenwala , and Joy Errico, director of Community Relations for Staples, Inc. The public is also invited to vote for their favorite Staples Foundation National Service Project at www.staples.com/sfflserviceaward beginning today through Thursday, April 15th. The national winner will be determined based on the voting results of the judges and the public’s overall vote.

The Staples Foundation for Learning National Service Project is part of BGCA’s overall mission to encourage the development of conscientious citizenship in young people and help them realize they can play an active role in creating positive change. Projects will be evaluated based on their originality and creativity, demonstration of leadership skills, environmental awareness and responsibility youth have gained through the experience, and the overall impact the project made in the community. This year, more than 1,400 Torch Clubs were invited to create a project that helped educate them about preserving the environment and helped to make their Club and local community more eco-friendly.

“Participation in service learning and community service projects result in many social and personal achievements for youth,” said Judith J. Pickens, senior vice president, program and youth development services for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “We are truly grateful for Staples Foundation for Learning’s support that helps ensure Torch Club members have the opportunity to participate in activities that help them develop the character-building, academic and job skills needed to succeed in life.”

“It is important that today’s youth understand the environmental issues affecting the world around them and are encouraged to play a role in addressing those issues locally,” said Paul Capelli, vice president of Public Relations for Staples, Inc. “With the Staples Foundation for Learning National Service Project Award, we recognize young stewards of the environment making a difference through their actions and commend their leadership in the community.”

The following groups are finalists for the Staples Foundation for Learning National Service Project Award:

Boys & Girls Clubs of Emerald Valley – Eugene, OR

BEE Great. Pollinate

Boys & Girls Clubs of Emerald Valley Torch Club wanted to address the potential of bees going extinct and identify what was causing the decline in the United States’ bee population. Youth identified what impact a decline in bee population and eventual extinction would have on the country’s gardens and crops and raised funds to build nesting boxes for bees. Through this project, Torch Club members learned about the important role bees play in the environment and presented their findings in a video documentary.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin and Southern Sonoma Counties – Petaluma, CA

Think Green Project

Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin and Southern Sonoma Counties Torch Club wanted to create awareness around the importance of recycling in their community, particularly in a low-income apartment complex where many immigrants live. Torch Club members implemented a recycling program that helped residents and other Club members understand the need for recycling. Torch Club members made it easy for residents to participate in the recycling initiative by volunteering to pick up all recycled items at residents’ homes. This project has created a movement within the small community and several residents have made recycling part of their everyday lives.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington – Vancouver, WA

Operation Birdhouse Project

Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington Torch Club wanted to develop a project that would teach them how to reuse recycled materials and also be beneficial to the community. Club members used recycled milk cartons to build birdhouses and birdfeeders. They decided to make this a Club-wide project and invited younger Club members to help decorate the birdhouses. Club members then donated the birdhouses to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. As part of an ongoing program, Torch Club members volunteer at the refuge, assist in maintaining the birdhouses and help refuge staff with other responsibilities.

Boys & Girls Club of Vineland – Vineland, NJ

Project GROW Community Garden Project

The Boys & Girls Club of Vineland Torch Club wanted to develop a project that would revitalize the grounds of their Club facility. Torch Club members worked with local businesses and master gardeners to transform an empty lot near the Club into a community garden. Through the Club members’ efforts, the Project GROW Community Garden Project was created and has transcended into a community-wide co-op garden that local residents enjoy.

Town of Wallkill Boys & Girls Club – Circleville, NY

Butterfly Garden Project

Town of Wallkill Boys & Girls Club Torch Club decided to create a “green” project that would benefit their school grounds and community for years. To achieve their goal, youth planted a butterfly garden after learning many butterfly habitats had been lost by the building of nearby homes and roads. As part of the project, Club members volunteered at local farms and nurseries to learn about butterfly gardening. With donations of plants, flowers and topsoil, the Torch Club members prepared and planted the garden and presented their project to the local community during a public dedication ceremony.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America

For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (www.bgca.org) has enabled young people, especially those who need Clubs most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serve more than 4 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs can be found throughout the country and on U.S. military installations worldwide, providing young people 6-18 years old with guidance-oriented character development programs conducted by trained, professional staff. Key programs emphasize leadership development; education and career exploration; community service; technology training; financial literacy; health and life skills; the arts; sports, fitness and recreation; and family outreach. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta.

About Staples Foundation for Learning

Founded in 2002, Staples Foundation for Learning has contributed more than $17 million to global, national and local charities that provide educational opportunities and job skills for all people, with a special emphasis on disadvantaged youth. Staples Foundation for Learning builds lasting relationships with world-class organizations including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Ashoka, Earth Force and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. The foundation is the private charitable arm of Staples, Inc. and is an integral component of Staples Soul, which recognizes the connection between long-term business success and the impact Staples has on associates, communities and the planet. For more information about the foundation and Staples Soul, please visit www.staplesfoundation.org and www.staples.com/soul.

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Contact:

Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Angela Richmond, 404-487-5813
arichmond@bgca.org
or
For Staples Foundation for Learning
Eva Pereira, 781-559-0424
eva.pereira@rfbinder.com

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