NEWARK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On Monday, January 27, 4:30 pm, Governor Chris Christie, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Woody Johnson (Co-Chairman, NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee) Jonathan Tisch (Co-Chairman, NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee) and Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. (President and CEO of the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee,) held a press conference in the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, a newly renovated facility that reflects the charitable legacy of Super Bowl XLVIII. The afternoon’s celebration, attended by many of the corporate and community partners who helped fund the new state-of-the-art Clubhouse, marked the first public appearance by the NFL Commissioner during Super Bowl week.
The NY/NJ Snowflake Youth Foundation, charitable arm of the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee and the NFL Foundation, were committed to leaving a significant and lasting legacy directly benefitting the young people of New Jersey. Nowhere is this mission more evident than at the Boys & Girls Club of Newark. By the time the two teams faced-off, nearly 1.7 million dollars had transformed BGCN’s Clubhouse into a state-of the-art youth development center. The funds were generated through the collective good will of dedicated BGCN corporate partners in Newark – Prudential, PSE&G and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, the charitable arm of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (BCBSNJ), along with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Hyde and Watson Foundation, Gibbons law firm, and the Super Bowl Host Committee itself. The results, unveiled at the press conference, represent a Boys & Girls Club for the 21st Century.
“We have combined the power of this sporting event with the incredible generosity of our region to make a real difference in the lives of our youth,” said Al Kelly, President and CEO of the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee. A new aquatics center, a fully restored gymnasium, a renovated games room, a commercial-grade kitchen, a digital and visual arts room, and a dance and fitness studio – the enormity of the Clubhouse transformation is testimony to the charitable legacy Super Bowl XLVIII has left in Newark now that the game is over.
The Prudential Foundation took the lead in the effort to make Super Bowl XLVIII a game the Newark community will long remember. As one of BGCN’s most committed supporters, The Prudential Foundation provided a $665,000 grant for a major upgrade of the entire Clubhouse, including a complete overhaul of the gymnasium. The Prudential Foundation also made a $50,000 grant for renovations at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Ironbound, also located in Newark.
The immediate health benefits a state-of-the-art gym provide to the community are apparent: improving kids’ fitness levels, lowering the risk of obesity and its attendant risk factors, building strong bones and muscles, reducing anxiety and depression. At a time when over 70% of high school students in this country are not physically active for at least 60 minutes a day, the opportunity to get moving through BGCN’s afterschool sports and fitness programming is a winning proposition for members and their families.
The Prudential Foundation’s generous gift is also an investment in academic achievement. Dozens of studies have reported the same results: regular physical activity improves student performance. Whether through increased attention and ability to stay on task, improved classroom behavior, or measurable gains on standardized tests – educators consistently see a positive difference when their students are regularly engaged in active play.
PSE&G was also among the first to step up to the charge with a $250,000 grant to help renovate the BGCN pool. The gift will bring joy to hundreds of kids, but it also has the potential to save lives. A 2010 study by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis reported that nearly 70% of African-American children do not know how to swim. Among low income families – the vast majority of the Club’s membership – lack of swimming skills proves generational with devastating results: children from non-swimming households are eight times more likely to be at risk for drowning. Set in the context of this national conversation, PSE&G’s grant to the BGCN pool epitomizes the kind of transformational change the Host Committee was looking to ignite.
The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, another significant corporate partner, committed $150,000 to underwrite a dance and fitness studio, a visual arts room and garden expansion as well as to help underwrite a brand new instructional kitchen. The grant also provides funding for programming in all of these areas. These projects align with the Foundation’s long-time support of efforts to combat childhood obesity, to provide youth with access to the arts and invest in programs that enrich the Newark community, which is home to Horizon BCBSNJ’s corporate headquarters.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also joined in supporting the club’s renovations.
No one is more excited about the new Clubhouse than Paul Sciré, BGCN’s CEO. “Regardless which team took home the trophy last Sunday,” says Sciré, “our kids have come out winners.”