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The Inukai Family Boys & Girls Club has been awarded $50,000 by HGTV and Comcast to create a teen space.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Kids play inside a green playspace created in 2019 at the Inukai Family Boys & Girls Club in Hillsboro.Hillsboro's Inukai Family Boys & Girls Club is getting a makeover.

The 30-year-old after-school center at 560 S.E. Third Ave. was selected to receive $50,000 for renovations as part of a partnership between HGTV and Comcast Corp., which announced the funding Thursday, June 3.

The grant award will go toward creating a much-needed comfortable and safe "teen space" at the facility where students will be able to relax, socialize and do homework, said Terry Johnson, chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area.

The Inukai Family Boys & Girls Club was one of three organizations in the country — and the only one on the West Coast, with the other two located in Atlanta and Baltimore — to receive the funding aimed at revitalizing facilities in Comcast's "Lift Zones."

In September 2020, the company created 1,000 Lift Zones across the country to provide free wifi at community centers to help increase internet access for low-income students.

Inspired by HGTV's show "Home Town Takeover," the network will also commission an artist to create a mural at the Boys & Girls Club in Hillsboro as part of the project.

"At HGTV, we present and celebrate stories of transformation," said Karen Bronzo, group senior vice president of marketing and strategy for HGTV and Food Network. "It's an honor to team with Comcast on these revitalization and enhancement projects that have the potential to touch so many lives and in these communities."

COURTESY PHOTO: INUKAI FAMILY BOYS & GIRLS CLUB - A vacant space at Hillsboro's Inukai Family Boys & Girls Club in Hillsboro that will be renovated and turned into a teen space as part of a donation by Comcast and HGTV.The Inukai Family Boys & Girls Club also expects to receive matching funds for its planned teen space in a vacant part of the building, which used to be a taqueria, that officials have long been eyeing for a makeover, said Johnson, who did not say where the matching funds would come from.

"We were really really excited and overjoyed to hear this news," Johnson said.

The project will allow the Boys & Girls Club, which can currently serve about 200 kids ages 6 to 18, to bring in more students, to add space and improve the quality of the facility, Johnson said.

"There aren't many youth-serving organizations in that community," Johnson said.

He added that the new space will create some separation between teens and younger kids.

Having a communal space where students can access the internet, do homework and build relationships with each other and Boys & Girls Club mentors is increasingly important as the community emerges from the pandemic, Johnson said.

He added that the pandemic exposed inequities in kids' ability to have safe, comfortable spaces to focus on schoolwork and use technology, which is now vitally important to their education.

"The primary piece is making this space feel like home," Johnson said.

The communal space will include "furnishings where kids can sit and engage with community and dialogue in conversation both with their peers and with their mentors, and also have fun," Johnson added.

The Boys & Girls Club will work with Comcast and HGTV to commission a muralist to produce art that reflects the community.

Nearly one in four Hillsboroans identifies as Hispanic or Latino, and more than one in eight identify as Asian or Pacific Islander. About 8% identify as multiracial. More than one in five were born in another country.

Rebecca Brown, director of community impact for Comcast Oregon/SW Washington, said she can't wait to see before and after photos of the space placed next to each other.

"We knew the Inukai Club was one that hadn't received as much TLC in recent years as maybe some of the others," Brown said of the Boys & Girls Club in Hillsboro, adding that its one of the bigger clubs in the region. "We're really thrilled to partner with HGTV to help the Boys & Girls Club."

While schools increasingly have students back in classrooms as the pandemic winds down, the digital divide in which many students throughout the region still lack access to high-speed internet will persist, Brown said.

This project as well as Comcast's Lift Zones and Internet Essentials program, which offers affordable high-speed internet, are part of the company's efforts to bridge the digital divide, she said.

"We're thrilled to partner with HGTV to help give these three Lift Zones a special makeover," said Karen Buchholz, senior vice president of Comcast. "These community centers provide safe spaces for people to get online, and this exciting partnership will go a long way to helping make them as comfortable and inviting as possible."


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