In the coming year the Moab Teen Center: Club Red will no longer be opening its doors to Grand County’s students for drop-in hours after school. Due to low attendance last year, Utah’s Safe Passages grant, which covers approximately 75-percent of the center’s costs, was not renewed, said Amy Stocks, the program’s director.
“Losing the grant was a big hit but it doesn’t make us not functional,” she said.
The loss of the Safe Passages grant means that the Moab Teen Center will be dropping from an annual budget of approximately $42,000 in the last fiscal year to around $17,000 in the coming fiscal year.
Due to these cuts the Moab Teen Center will now focus more on hosting events and working with other groups in Grand County to set up programming for area teens.
The Moab Teen Center started in 2004 as part of an Infant Through Youth Foundation project. In September of 2005 it began actively serving teens with a mission “to encourage and empower Grand County teens to co-create community and culture through recreation, art, service and leadership.”
“At the time there wasn’t a lot of after school programs,” Stocks said. “The community wanted to provide kids with stuff to do and a safe place to go after school.”
The hope was that the center would give students a positive environment in which they could interact with their peers and adults after school, said John Geiger, the city of Moab’s recreation coordinator.
“It was a community initiative that the city supported,” Geiger said. “The bulk of their operations revenue had to be self-generated. The city provides administrative support in the form of office space and computers and so forth.”
Monday through Friday the Moab Teen Center, located in the basement beneath the Center St. Gym, would open for three hours. Loosely organized activities designed to build self-esteem were held and a computer lab as well as foosball, air hockey, and video games were available for students use. On Wednesdays members of the community would come in to teach teens different skills.
A healthy snack was also provided.
Over the last year the number of teen’s attending the center has dropped from a daily average of nine to 11 last year to between five and seven this year, Stocks said. This caused Safe Passages to discontinue their grant.
“You get approved to have (the Safe Passages grant) for three years, but every year you have to reapply for funding. They saw the low numbers and questioned, as we have been, whether we are serving our teens in the best way possible,” Stocks said.
The change in attendance, Geiger believes, stems from the fact that there are several other programs for teens in Moab.
“There are a lot of other programs for that age group in town,” he said. “We are looking at the funding and realizing that maybe those services are being offered elsewhere. We are redirecting.”
The Moab Teen Center has several other smaller grants that provide funding in addition to the money that it raises on its own. In the coming years raising money from local donors will become increasingly important, Stocks said.
In response to the drop in participation the Moab Teen Center has switched its focus away from drop-in hours and towards the better-attended events that it hosts throughout the year.
“Our main concern is making sure we are serving teens the best way possible,” Stocks said. “We’d like to spend this next year focused on our events since they have been so successful.”
These events include the dodge ball tournament, BMX races, and skate competitions.
The Moab Teen Center also hopes to work more with other teen-focused groups such as BEACON After School Program, the Moab Valley Multicultural Center, and Young Life Moab to provide programming for Grand County teens.
The Moab Valley Multicultural Center has already partnered with the Moab Teen Center for their summer camp.
“The teen center is sharing their VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and the clubhouse with us for the summer,” said Rhiana Medina, the director of the Moab Area Multicultural Center. “We have a multicultural Monday summer camp. It’s a summer camp just on Mondays. We have Spanish lessons, cultural activities and outdoor fun.”
In the future, Stocks hopes to see more of this kind of partnership. She and Geiger hope for the Moab Teen Center to act more as a hub for local teens, and to find out what their changing needs are.
“We understand the landscape pretty well. If teens are being serviced adequately other places that’s great,” Geiger said. “When the landscape changes, if it changes, and there is a need for drop-in again (the space) is there and will be utilized.”
Our main concern is making sure we are serving teens the best way possible. We’d like to spend this next year focused on our events since they have been so successful.”