The Pennington Facility is Alive

Fall 2014 Update

A message from Executive Director, Mike Wurm 

On June 16, 2014, the Boys & Girls Club’s William N. Pennington Facility opened to the community. The project was many years in the making. After more than 60 years serving the community, the YMCA of the Sierra closed its doors 2008, and the historic property at 1300 Foster Drive sat vacant for over five years. The Pennington Foundation’s generous seed gift launched the project in late 2012, followed quickly by the donation of the property to the Boys & Girls Club by the City of Reno and the incredible support of foundations, corporations and individuals. Many went above and beyond to make this project possible. Today, we are pleased to report that the results of this generosity have gone above and beyond some of our most optimistic expectations.


Keeping the construction work local was a priority. This began with the architect, where two local professionals at Architecture Design designed the facility from start to finish. After a thorough competitive bid process, we selected Reno-based United Construction as the project’s general contractor. United’s overall costs and willingness to value engineer wherever feasible earned them the job. Using entirely local subs, the team at United did a fantastic job and delivered as promised, money-wise and time-wise. As with any construction project, we ran into some hiccups along the way, but there were no significant delays. As planned, the building opened just in time for summer programming.

Despite high levels of use over the summer, the building looks as good as it did on the day it opened. Using lessons learned from the major renovation at our Donald W. Reynolds Facility on East 9th Street in 2004, we were able to engineer the facility to withstand the heavy usage of our kids. Simple changes like durable door hinges and higher windows will keep the building looking as good as new for years to come.


Initial estimates for Pennington Facility usage was a few hundred youth, perhaps growing to 300 youth daily during the summer. It didn’t take long to far exceed these goals.  After the first week, we saw as many as 350 youth per day. As awareness grew about the new Club throughout the summer, we continued to grow, with daily attendance peaking on occasion at more than 600 youth. Indeed, attendance grew so quickly that it became a challenge to maintain adequate staffing.  At multiple points during the summer, we were forced to add additional staff to maintain proper child to staff ratios.  Today, we have 1,430 registered members at the William N. Pennington Facility.

We are especially pleased to report membership at the Pennington Facility has had minimal impact on other Club sites. In fact, the Donald W. Reynolds Facility also served record numbers of youth this summer. This means the children attending the Pennington Facility are primarily brand new to the Boys & Girls Club. While we were confident of the need for youth services in the Foster Drive community, even Club leadership was surprised at the number of children pouring through our doors each day.

With the new school year now underway, attendance has slowed down somewhat. Through the first month of school, we’ve seen an average daily attendance of 250 youth.  The school year typically brings in a different group of youth than summer and school breaks. As with the summer, we expect membership to grow over the coming weeks as parents are made aware of our before and after school programs. Plus, with the start of our basketball leagues this winter, we expect another spike in attendance.

We have also begun our transportation program for the school year, which provides busing from nearby schools to the Pennington Facility after school. We originally planned to bus from 10 schools but have increased that number to 14 to meet demand (Caughlin Ranch Elementary, Elmcrest Elementary, Warner Elementary, Honors Academy, Hunter Lake Elementary, Jessie Beck Elementary, Mamie Towles Elementary, Mt. Rose Elementary, Peavine Elementary, Roy Gomm Elementary, Billinghurst Middle, Clayton Middle, Swope Middle, and McQueen High).


Since 2008, the Boys & Girls Club has operated the E. L. Wiegand Early Learning Center, which serves children from six weeks to six years, including a full-day kindergarten program. Located adjacent to the Pennington Facility at 1270 Foster Drive, the Center is currently operated as a partnership between the Boys & Girls Club, the E. L. Wiegand Foundation and the City of Reno. The Club funds the Center’s regular operating expenses as well as facility upgrades through program fees and fundraising efforts.  With the Center next door to the Pennington Facility, we have created a unique full-service youth campus where a child can receive services and support from infancy through high school graduation at a single site.

The Pennington Facility has proven to be an ideal marketing tool for the Center. Since the Pennington grand opening, the Center has consistently operated at or near capacity. We’ve also been able to share resources between the two facilities. We’ve combined our food program so that Center meals are now prepared in the spacious Pennington kitchen. We’ve also relocated our kindergarten class to the Pennington Facility, which has opened up an additional 30 spots for pre-K children at the Center.


The project’s original budget was $14,673,000. Per Pennington Foundation and self-imposed requirements, this figure included demolition and construction costs, a one million dollar maintenance reserve fund, the first two years of operating expenses and funds for key infrastructure upgrades.

As with most construction projects, additional expenses became apparent as building began. Facility upgrades like field turf in the backyard, a radiant heat system under the front walkway and the addition of a second story added an additional $527,000, bringing our final budget to $15,200,000.

Thanks to the generosity of our community, we were able to meet this goal through cash and pledges this summer. Of course, it is not enough to simply build a new facility; we must be able to sustain it.  The funds raised for the project have already been spent or committed, and now we move on to the next job: raising funds for daily operations and long-term sustainability. We have several strategies toward this end:

Naming Opportunities: There are still a handful of naming opportunities available throughout the building. The foundation recognition wall in the front lobby has also garnered a good deal of interest from funders who want to be represented in the facility. We will continue to pursue these funding opportunities as they arise.

Facility Revenue:  While we never turn a child away for financial reasons, the Boys & Girls Club does charge fees on a sliding scale. We ask those who can afford it to pay for our programs ($20 annual membership fee; $40 weekly fee during school breaks), while we subsidize those who cannot afford it. This program revenue provides an important income source.

Additionally, there has been quite a bit of interest from outside groups to rent the facility for special events. Thus far, building rentals have been on a limited basis as we are still exploring ways to maximize the facility’s use for the kids. However, once we find a good balance, building rentals have the potential to become an important revenue stream from year to year.

Immediate Community: Recognizing the importance of a Boys & Girls Club in their community, our neighbors have been highly supportive of this project. We believe there is potential for this moral support to become financial support as well. Our resource development team is in the process of creating strategies to reach out directly to the old southwest Reno neighborhood.

We are also working toward creating a marquee annual fundraiser for the facility. Initially, the inaugural event was scheduled for October 2014; however, with so many other activities occurring in the fall, the event was postponed. We are now planning for a May 2015 event and are pursuing a number of different options to cater to the community’s needs and interests.

Infrastructure Upgrades: Part of our project fundraising goal was designated for key infrastructure upgrades, which included the addition of a Resource Development Director. This position was filled in early 2013 and completes our fundraising team with the purpose of increasing overall annual giving to the Club. Together with our Board of Directors, the Club has assembled a team that will ensure the Pennington Facility, and the organization as a whole, remains viable long-term.


As we look to the future of the Pennington Facility, we are immensely excited at the opportunities. We have only begun to explore the possibilities of this facility, not only for our local youth, but for our entire community. Sustainability will remain at the forefront of the Boys & Girls Club’s efforts, and utilizing the sources listed above, we are confident in our ability to ensure sustainability of the facility for generations of northern Nevada children. Click here for more information about the Pennington Facility, or contact Executive Director Mike Wurm at (775) 360-2443.


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