A dozen or more Alaska clubs facing major cutbacks

Posted: Sunday, October 11, 2009

ANCHORAGE - A half-dozen Boys and Girls Clubs have closed in Alaska and at least twice that many are in trouble because of severe budget shortfalls.

There are roughly 50 clubhouses around the state, many of which opened during the past decade following an influx of federal money earmarked to spread the clubs into the Bush.

Those in the Bush, however, are the most at risk of closing after it was learned that federal Department of Justice grants won't be provided this year.

The clubhouses already closed are in Juneau, Tyonek, Copper Center, Galena, Kivalina and Wrangell. Another 12 to 15 face major cutbacks, if not closure, said John Oates, chief executive of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southcentral Alaska, the chapter which manages all state clubhouses except for those on the Kenai Peninsula.

Alaska Boys and Girls Club managers blame the national organization for not securing the grants. But an Atlanta-based official with the national organization told the Anchorage Daily News they simply didn't get the grants this year, and no chapter should rely on government handouts.

"You can't bank on support, really, from any source on a multi-year basis unless funding you receive is a multi-year grant or gift," said Evan McElroy, senior vice president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. "It's an annual, year-to-year situation and that's the way it's been since time immemorial."

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