SF Community Center in the Running for $50,000 Prize

The Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center (SNBC), which offers free programs on dance, drawing and technology and houses the Experience Corps Bay Area, has been selected as one of only ten finalists for “Drops of Good: The Maxwell House Community Project”, which could bring them up to $50,000.

In partnership with Rebuilding Together and country music superstar, Trace Adkins, Drops of Good is looking to revitalize communities from coast to coast. Located on Noriega Street, the SNBC “serves nearly 1,000 people per day across various sites in the Sunset District” and this grant would allow them to get several much-needed repairs.

The other communities with nominated centers includes: Baltimore, Charlotte, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Orlando, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

And the public has been asked to get in on the action. Until June 8, you can vote for your favorite community center. The top 3 centers will each receive up to $50,000 while the remaining organizations will still get $5000 each. You can help the SNBC win!

SF Station had a chance to speak with the director of the community center, Megan Agee, and get her thoughts on being on the precipice of winning such as great prize.

SF Station (SFS): What was the nomination process like?

Megan Agee (MA): We were contacted by Rebuilding Together San Francisco to submit an application for Drops of Good: The Maxwell House Community Project. After submitting, Maxwell House, with the help of Rebuilding Together’s national organization, selected 10 worthy community centers based on the organization’s impact on their local community, on 501(c)(3) status, and the level of renovations needed for the community center to continue flourishing. We’re excited that SNBC was chosen as one of the 10.

SFS: If SNBC were to receive the grant, what do you hope to do with the winnings?

MA: SNBC has been housed at our current space since 2000, but in the past 12 years since we moved in, the site hasn’t received any significant improvements. The renovation work will include: pulling out old, frayed carpet and installing new flooring; painting the entire interior that’s currently dull and chipped; re-designing the space for efficiency to accommodate our large staff and volunteer base; installing new work stations and constructing private office space; and general repairs. Without these improvements, we’re bursting at the seams. The building serves as both office space and a site for programs for youth, adults, and seniors, so it must be more versatile than the current configuration allows. It needs to feel like a warm and welcoming community center—not the print shop that it once was.

SFS: Which is the most popular program held at the center?

MA: Because SNBC serves nearly 1,000 people per day across various sites in the Sunset District, it’s difficult to name just one of our programs for its popularity. They’re all in such high demand. Our longest-running programs are our after school programs for school-aged children, which we operate at five local schools, (and more recently a recreation clubhouse, too), within blocks of our center. But we’re finding that our other services for both the younger and older generations are now incredibly popular as well. This includes adult courses such as English as a Second Language, computer classes in English or Cantonese, art, dance and yoga. For toddlers and preschool-aged children we have early literacy programs, movement classes, and parent education, all of which are filling up as quickly as we create them. And we can’t forget summer programs—this year SNBC had to stop accepting registrations for our summer programs when we received twice as many requests as we had slots available.

SFS: How do you feel SNBC gives back to its neighborhood?

MA: SNBC’s purpose is to connect people to their passion, potential, and community. We believe that learning is a life-long process, and we exist to provide meaningful learning experiences that would not have otherwise been available to the residents of the Sunset District. Our after school programs integrate important academic concepts with project-based activities that prepare our kids for the real world—while giving working parents piece of mind that their child is safe and cared for after school. Classes like yoga, dance, and drawing give adults in the neighborhood the freedom to explore different creative outlets, while our technology-focused and ESL classes provide adults the hard skills they need to connect to their community. This wide array of programming is lifting up the community’s hopes and dreams, one paintbrush or keyboard stroke at a time. Plus, every class, program, and life-changing experience is free to anyone in the community.

Image courtesy of the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center