Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa Aims to Expand Student Outreach

DES MOINES, Iowa -- An old club is occupying a new space at a Southside Des Moines Middle School. McCombs Middle School has housed a Boys and Girls club within its walls for years but until now, there was never a designated club space.

The new 3,000 square foot space is loaded with study lounges, game areas and technology. It's purpose, to bring more structure and to attract more students to the after - school program.

"If I didn’t do this I would probably go home and be bored. I'm glad my parents signed me up for this," says sixth grader, Andre Johnson.

The addition of the new space is a part of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa's expansion project.

"When we think of mentoring kids, supporting our kids and raising them up right, we need them to have space," says McCombs Club unit director, Kendra Allen.

By 2023, the organization hopes to grow the number of students it serves from 1,500 to 3,000. It also wants to build three new clubs and expand one other. Leaders say the need for more space is obvious. Studies show that more than 80 - percent of Iowa middle and high schoolers are unsupervised after school.

"The question is where do kids go? And especially with this age a lot of them can go home after school," Allen says.  "They can choose to walk home and be with their peers but  we think what we provide here is life changing."

The expansion project is expected to cost about $18 million dollars. So far, donors have chipped in about two - thirds of that amount. On Thursday, the club will host its grand opening from 5:30 to 7:30.