YMCA of Delaware Opens Newly Renovated Learning Lab to Support Youth

Learning Lab made possible thanks to a $250K Donation From Barclays US Consumer Bank

– The Barclays colleague-driven initiative redesigned the YMCA’s Learning Lab with the addition of a STEM Lab at the Walnut Street branch in the heart of the city of Wilmington –

– More than 600 books purchased and donated by Barclays employees–

WILMINGTON, Del. (June 14, 2021) – Barclays US Consumer Bank and the YMCA of Delaware today announced the completion of renovations at the Walnut Street branch in downtown Wilmington, all in support of the organization’s work to strengthen its youth development programs, especially during the ongoing pandemic. The facility upgrades, supported by a $250,000 donation from Barclays, include a fully redesigned Learning Lab, which serves Delaware students engaged in remote learning, and the addition of a renovated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Lab.

“The YMCA of Delaware has provided much-needed services to address some of the most critical challenges facing our community,” said Adam Ahmad, Community Reinvestment Act Officer, Barclays US Consumer Bank. “This colleague-led initiative, inspired by the YMCA Black Achievers program, has allowed Barclays colleagues to give back to the community in which we live and serve.”

Barclays has been a corporate sponsor of the Walnut Street YMCA Black Achievers program for more than five years. Through the sponsorship, Barclays colleagues have served as Adult Achievers, providing mentorship and career readiness resources to Black youth in the region.

“This investment by Barclays will help increase access to the opportunities, relationships and resources necessary for attending students to learn, grow and thrive,” said Ahmad. “The success of our efforts is due to our generous colleagues who have donated many hours to lead this project and make the greatest impact.”

Specifically, the Walnut Street YMCA renovations include the following:

  • Redesigned Learning Lab supported by Barclays: Youth of all ages will be provided high-quality care and remote learning assistance through a fully renovated learning space including new learning desks with portable plexiglass dividers constructed by The Challenge Program.
  • Newly renovated STEM Lab supported by Barclays: A state-of-the-art technology center will soon offer a variety of STEM activities and will allow for increased enrollment in the Learning Labs program, with an expected completion in 2021.
  • Expanded Heritage Library: In addition to new bookshelves constructed by The Challenge Program, Barclays colleagues have purchased more than 600 new books.
  • Floor-to-Ceiling Upgrades: New flooring, ceiling, and electrical work can be seen on the second floor of the facility.

“We are incredibly grateful to Barclays for their generous donation and continued support to make this new Learning Lab possible,” said Deborah Bagatta-Bowles, president and CEO, YMCA of Delaware. “The completed renovations will help to ensure our students have equal access to the resources needed to develop their educational skills and achieve their full potential.”

Turner Construction Company served as the general contractor on the project, which began in February 2021. The renovations to the nearly 5,000 square-foot space turned existing underutilized space into higher-performing spaces to better meet the needs of the community. Other local partnerships on the project included:

  • The Challenge Program: Since 1995, the Challenge Program has offered Delaware’s at-risk youth the opportunity to learn valuable construction skills. The program was tasked with constructing 50 new desks and portable plexiglass dividers for the YMCA Learning Lab and book racks for the Heritage Library.
  • Christian Kanienberg: Trained as both a muralist, sculptor, and as a general contractor, Christian Kanienberg is more often recognized as the creative force behind WISH Unlimited, an art services company based in Bellefonte of North Wilmington. Christian’s mural artwork is displayed in the hallway of the new Learning Lab, showcasing the possibilities of a brighter future along with Barclays colleagues who made this project possible as local “superheroes.”

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