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West End Center for Youth Succeeding in Tough Economy

The Board of Directors, staff, and families of the West End Center for Youth are celebrating a banner year in the Center’s history. On the heels of its 30th anniversary last year, the Center has achieved its greatest fundraising success to date. The Center has just finished its 2009/2010 fiscal year, and has announced that the annual giving increased 18% over both the previous year and the average giving of the last decade.

According to the Executive Director Joy Parrish, West End Center’s success can be attributed to “the efficacy of the program, the teamwork among the staff, the board, and The Advancement Foundation, and the generosity of donors in spite of the unprecedented challenges of the current economic climate.” With such strong support from the community, and with such meaningful outcomes, both Parrish and Board Chair James Creekmore, feel the West End Center is well positioned to continue helping children with limited resources find unlimited opportunities.

In the beginning of the 2008/2009 fiscal year, the board and staff developed a strategic plan that included a bold three year capital campaign to increase operational reserves and to establish a permanent endowment.  The goal was to raise $2 million. Over the course of the last ten years, the annual giving has averaged $520K.

With the increase in annual giving to over $616K, the Center has now secured $1.368 million in pledges and gifts toward the campaign goal. The Center’s Campaign Chair, Walton Rutherfoord, said, “The obvious explanation for the campaign’s success is that [the] programs work and outcomes demonstrate that fact.  For example, over 80% of the Center’s students graduate from high school compared to the city’s 67% graduation rate.  This statistic is even more impressive when you consider that many of the Center’s children are from economically disadvantaged families and considered to be at higher risk for academic failure than the general population.”

With such effective programming and a strong funding base, the Center is sure to continue to lead the next generation of Roanoke’s youth to become productive citizens. The success stories that have come from the Center’s after-school and tutoring programs are numerous. Each child who attends the Summer and After-School programs learns valuable social and leadership skills, healthy decision making, as well as positive diet and nutrition options.  Over the last 30 years, the West End Center has had a .03% teen pregnancy rate compared to the current 6% rate for Roanoke City.

A few examples of the Center’s recent community efforts include the first annual 5K Race for the Kids, held on July 3rd, and the recent opening of the West End Center Community Garden, which is now open on Wednesdays from 4 – 7 p.m.

To learn more about the Center, visit, or contact Becca Parrish, at (540) 342-0902.

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