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Donation to Making the Grade earns an A

Rob Gardiner (right) HorizBank talks with local Boys   Girls Club officials (from left) Charles Sanders P.J. Jones Robert

Rob Gardiner (right) of Horizon Bank talks with local Boys & Girls Club officials (from left) Charles Sanders, P.J. Jones and Robert Montgomery at the Hammond, Ind., club Jan. 4, 2013. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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For more information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana, visit www.bgcnwi.org.

Updated: February 19, 2013 11:47AM



The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana have myriad programs that back up education for youngsters in the area.

One of the programs, Making the Grade, has earned the Hammond and Merrillville clubs a $25,000 donation from Horizon Bank.

Merrillville club director Madalyn Hurt, a former member of the East Chicago Boys & Girls Club, has fond memories of the dedication of the E.C. club’s staffers and their efforts. Now on the other side of the welcome desk, she realizes the challenges it takes to keep things going and the importance of the after-school activities and educational programs.

“This (donation) is a blessing,” Hurt said. “We are here first and foremost for the kids, and many parents also depend on us.”

Making the Grade is a 10-week basic-skills program for ages 9 to 15. Professional staffers pass along findings about students’ strengths and weaknesses in various subjects to the parents and, in some cases, to the students’ schools.

Some of the instructional areas are speaking before a small group, using library resources, and using a thesaurus to expand vocabulary.

Each quarter, different groups of 15 to 20 students in the Hammond and Merrillville clubs are chosen to participate in the after-school sessions.

“We are expected to make this experience creative,” said Charles Sanders, Hammond club program director, “and our educational coordinator, Shalonda Jones, did just that. This year, the group developed and printed a cookbook — ‘Making the Grub.’ ”

The Merrillville club does not have a standalone building. The program meets at Merrillville Intermediate School.

“Our educational coordinator, Marco Taylor, has adapted well to (the facilities) we have to work with,” Hurt said. “We use the gym and the computer labs quite a bit.”

Horizon last year committed to annual $5,000 donations for five years, but decided to donate the remaining $20,000 this year.

“We have a big presence in these communities and support the Boys & Girls Clubs’ admirable efforts,” said Robert Gardiner, Horizon market president of Lake County. “It’s important to build the future with programs like Making the Grade.”



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