The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County (BGCDC) officially has a downtown presence.
The “Club on the Square” opened Thursday with a press conference and a volunteer event to fill 400 Easter baskets for kids in the community.
As we reported last month, Urban Land Interest donated the first floor of the former American Exchange Bank and the neighboring storefront, which most recently housed a Quizno’s sandwich shop, to the Boys and Girls Club, rent-free for at least one year.
BGCDC CEO Michael Johnson has said the space will be used as a coworking space for nonprofits, an event venue, space for person-of-color-owned businesses to host pop-up shops, and more.
Additionally, it will become the main office location for Feeding the Youth, the Black Men’s Coalition of Dane County and Madison365.
ULI owner Bradley Binkowski said the bank building will be saved as part of a major development of the block in the near future.
“Since 1974, my partner Tom Neujahr and I have been really trying to make downtown better,” he said, and offering a space for the BGCDC helps fulfill that mission.
“People often ask, ‘what’s missing downtown?'” said Madison alder Nasra Wehelie, who also serves on the BGCDC Board of Directors. “This is what’s been missing. The youth and the people of color.”
“We are more than thrilled to be part of this downtown space and be able to provide more essentials to the community,” said Feeding the Youth founder Jazzman Brown, who said her organization has fed more than 2,000 families in its first year. “We want to make sure our downtown community gets to feel our efforts.”
“As a community news outlet, we need to be in the community,” said Madison365 outreach and engagement director Stephanie Díaz de León. “We’ve been privileged and grateful to be able to … work remotely. We’ve been grateful to thrive through a time that’s been very difficult for the news industry, and to cover the most important issues of this past year. Our focus will now shift to telling the stories of the community’s recovery. As we all emerge from this very difficult year, we need to be here, present and visible in the community. This partnership will allow us to do that while dedicating all of our resources to the highest quality of journalism.”
Club on the Square will have its grand opening open house from 10 am until 5 pm Friday.