“Play Connects” Impacts … Boys & Girls Club of Stamford

June 19, 2012 | The Toy Industry Foundation’s (TIF) Play Connects program invites Toy Industry Association (TIA) member companies from across the nation to nominate charities in their own communities to receive grant funding. In 2011, four nominated charities were selected to receive $10,000 each to help at-risk children through play, education and mentorship programs. Over the course of the summer, Toy News Tuesday will be profiling the charities that received grants to showcase how the funds are making an important difference in children’s lives. 

Nominated to receive TIF grant funding by Becker Associates, LLC, $10,000 grant winner the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford, Connecticut is a dedicated youth facility that has an annual membership of more than 1,000 Stamford-area children, with 200-300 kids attending the club each day. Since 1927, the organization has offered after-school and youth development programming for children aged 6-18, inspiring confidence and a sense of belonging. Currently, fifty-three percent of the kids at Stamford B&G Club live in a single-parent household, and 95% percent of these children come from low-income households.

In late May, representatives from TIF and TIA visited the club to learn more about “Project Learn” – a B&G Club program that is utilizing the Play Connects funds from TIF to improve the academic standing of club kids by exposing them to alternative learning methods that build self-esteem and improve attitudes towards schooling.  [View photos from the visit]

“While most after-school programs in the area are strictly recreational, Project Learn teaches children through play,” said Marisa Medina, Toy Industry Foundation Manager.  “During our visit we were excited to see how the grant funding they received from us has been used to enhance the Boys and Girls Club’s successful program. The children were happy, engaged, and learning together while playing with fun toys and games.”

The program’s alternative learning methods include a daily homework “power hour” to complete and review assignments along with the following high yield learning activities that vary depending on the day of the week:

  • Monday: Math is the main focus, with games such as Numbers on My Mind, Smath and Math Dice.
  • Tuesday: Kids play reading and literacy games, including Scrabble, Boggle, Pathwords and Spelling Bee Bingo.
  • Wednesday: Children are encouraged to engage with science and brain teaser games, such as Immersion Learning, Chess and Science Club.
  • Thursday: Kids unleash their creativity with arts & crafts activities.
  • Friday: Traditional board games that promote bonding and fun are played, such as Clue, Monopoly, Othello and Connect Four.

 “The Play Connects grant has provided our children with a fun and engaging learning experience that supported our Project Learn initiatives,” said Mike Cotela, Executive Director of the Stamford B&G Club. “Each day after school, children are eager to participate in the Game Club as a way to improve their academic learning. We are grateful to the Foundation for helping us expand our program through this very generous grant.”

The 2012 Play Connects grant cycle is now open; the nomination period closes on August 15, 2012. Each TIA member company (full or associate) in good standing can nominate one community-based charity. Up to three grant recipients will be chosen by a committee comprised of members from the TIF Board of Trustees. For more information, visit the Toy Industry Foundation website.