Efforts are being made to start youth center in Urbana

Plans to create an Urbana youth center aimed at providing after school programming is underway.

The goal is to reach students in Urbana, especially those who may not have access to tutoring, mentors or proper nutrition. That project is being undertaken by the GrandWorks Foundation.

It is a local nonprofit aiming to reach, restore, and revive the community, according to the organization’s mission.

Justin Weller, the lead project manager for the youth center, said that they are in the process of securing donations as well as looking around the downtown area for a location.

The hope is to have the center officially opened by 2021, but to start offering some form of programming by the end of this year.

Weller said they want to also foster connections between students and local employers by encouraging visits from local companies.

“We’ve been working on this since last November and just began the transition from our planning team to our operational team,” Weller said in a news release.

“Getting the details right, selecting the best location, fine tuning our plans for programming. Let’s just say there’s a lot to do and we are committed to getting it right and to start serving Urbana’s youth as soon as possible,” he added.

In terms of finding a location, members of GrandWorks said they have several locations in mind and that they want to be in a space that is accessible to both students and their families.

“Some of the best options would not be available for us until mid-2021 or after. Long-term we want a location that has room for what we anticipate to be an ever growing demand for the youth center’s services,” Weller added.

There is also an effort to recruit local educators, retired teachers and other community members to be volunteers for the center. There is also an effort to raise money for the center’s programming.

The largest donation has been made by the Bundy Family, associated with the Bundy Corporation, who made a donation of $25,000.

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