YMCA of Concord Awarded $150K Grant From Merrimack County Commissioners
The YMCA of Concord, a branch of The Granite YMCA, was recently awarded $150,000 dollars in grant funding by the Merrimack County Commissioners to support the Child Development Center playground. The award is part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding from which the Commissioners have discretion to support the needs of area non-profits.
“As one of the largest childcare providers in Merrimack County, the importance of an outdoor recreational area for play, expression and fresh air is vital to the health of the children we serve and the overall success of the program,” explained Michele Sheppard, President & CEO, The Granite YMCA. “The current play area falls far short of our standards for what children deserve and need to engage in safe and creative outdoor play,” Sheppard added. “We are grateful that the Merrimack County Commissioners saw the YMCA as meeting the federal funding criteria and we know this will have a positive impact on our Concord-based youth as the playground is remodeled, revitalized and greatly improved,” Shepard added.
The YMCA of Concord is one of the largest childcare providers in Merrimack County, serving close to 450 preschool and school-aged kids daily. Preschool and afterschool programs are Certified as License Plus (only 11% of all licensed NH childcare providers are License Plus).
The YMCA of Concord Child Development Center, located at 44 Warren Street in downtown Concord, has a playground that was adapted from a previous parking lot. Although some softer surfaces had been added, much of it is still asphalt. The current playground has very poor drainage and during winter months is inaccessible due to ice.
“We have exciting plans that will include improving drainage, resurfacing the existing playground site, and installing new playground equipment to foster the creativity and enrichment for the children in our care, explained Alex Turek, YMCA of Concord Executive Director. “This grant is going to have an impact on children of all ages for decades to come,” added Turek.
ARPA funds are required to be used to implement prevention and mitigation tactics to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus; and to address negative economic impacts the non-profit experienced resulting from the pandemic. In the greater Concord area, as in the entire state of NH, the need for affordable childcare has reached crisis proportions. Faced with long wait lists and high rates, low-income families are increasingly forced to reduce working hours or drop out of the workforce, further perpetuating the cycle of poverty. At the same time, young children are missing the opportunity for early education and academic enrichment. The YMCA of Concord’s Child Development Center provides accessible, high-quality childcare to hundreds of families and they remain committed to serving as many children and families as possible.
About The Granite YMCA
As one of the state’s longest standing and most enduring non-profits, The Granite YMCA focuses on youth development, healthy living, social responsibility, and family strengthening. Across the state, its six branches engage 30,000 men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to improve their health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. In 2021, The Granite YMCA provided financial assistance and free services valued at just over $1.29 million to 10,868 individuals. To learn more, please visit www.graniteymca.org.