Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago Unveils First Newly-Built Club in a Generation on Chicago’s West Side
The new Rusu-McCartin Boys & Girls Club was built with significant community input; offers expansive programming and opportunity for West Side youth
CHICAGO (August 18, 2023) – Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago (BGCC),
held a ribbon-cutting ceremony, officially opening the organization’s first newly-built Club in a generation, the Rusu-McCartin Boys & Girls Club.
This brand-new, three-story, 27,000+ square foot facility will offer programming to youth in the Austin, West Garfield Park, West Humboldt Park, and surrounding communities. The Rusu-McCartin Club sits on a campus that also includes Chicago’s new Joint Public Safety Training Academy and several restaurants.
The Club offers a safe space for West Side youth, ages five to 18+, to foster friendships and explore programming in the state-of-the-art facility that includes a Technology Center of Excellence, a commercial teaching kitchen, a teen center, an outdoor play area, an NBA-sized basketball court, and more.
“We know how important it is for Chicago’s youth to have access to safe and enriching environments in their neighborhood. The new Rusu-McCartin Club was made possible by our incredibly generous donors and supporters, and it was built by and for the community. Through collaborations with community members, young people, and local leaders across Austin, West Garfield Park, and West Humboldt Park, we have come together to create a truly transformational space for our children and teens,” said BGCC President and CEO Michael Crowley.
The Rusu-McCartin Boys & Girls Club is also home to:
- The Nikki Allen Learning Center, which gives Club members a space for hands-on educational enrichment and academic support, as well as leadership and civic engagement opportunities.
- The Christopher Family Teaching Kitchen, where youth will develop their knowledge of nutrition and learn new recipes from culinary experts.
- “Mimi’s Meadow,” a rooftop garden and programming space named after former BGCC President and CEO Mimi LeClair.
“Not only does the Rusu-McCartin Boys & Girls Club provide a safe and educational space for West Side youth, but it is also a place for relationship-building, listening and collaboration. We are deliberately choosing to no longer be bound by the barriers that divide us. This Club is a shining example of how bold ideas can shape our shared future,” said 37th Ward Alderwoman Emma Mitts.
From inception to launch, community youth voices have been integral in the development of the Rusu-McCartin Club. In 2022, the Rusu-McCartin Club Youth Council was launched to integrate youth perspectives into planning and design, programming, and partnerships. With more than 20 members aged 12 to 24, the Youth Council collaborated with BGCC staff, volunteers, and community representatives to prioritize the desires and requirements of Chicago's youth, making them central to the Club's identity and offerings.
Tevin Haynes serves as the inaugural Club Director for the Rusu-McCartin Club. Prior to joining BGCC, Tevin worked as a dean for a local school and an assistant site director at a youth-serving organization. He has more than 10 years of experience in mentoring young people and was raised in the Austin community.
The Club opened its doors for a soft launch of programming this summer, providing Summer Camp for more than 100 young people during those all-important months when school is not in session. In addition to field trips to the Garfield Park Conservatory, Field Museum, The Chicago Theatre, and Brookfield Zoo, campers played competitive games in the gym, collaborated on STEM projects, participated in dance sessions, practiced academic skills, and enjoyed the scenic views of the Chicago skyline from the rooftop.
Thanks to the incredible generosity and leadership gifts from George and Cindy Rusu, and Bart McCartin and Katie Sakach, this new Club will serve thousands of kids with high-quality programming and be a reliable community resource for generations. McCartin began his involvement with BGCC over 20 years ago as a Club volunteer and is currently the Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors for Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago. The Rusus have strong ties in Chicago and have been major supporters of BGCC’s mission for years.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago
Founded in 1902, Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago (BGCC) is one of the oldest youth development organizations in Chicago. Its mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need them the most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Serving thousands of youth – ages five to 18+ – annually at 24 Club locations across Chicago, BGCC works to equip members with the emotional, educational, physical, and cultural resources that allow them to enjoy their childhood and thrive in adulthood. Learn more at: bgcc.org.