A family of developers recently donated $1 million to the local Boys & Girls Club chapter, putting the nonprofit closer to fully funding the purchase of a new main clubhouse.
The gift from the Cusumano family, which owns many major office and residential properties in Burbank, brings the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley to more than $3 million raised for its new building. The facility, on which the club is in escrow, has a price tag of about $5.3 million, not including rehabilitative and equipment costs.
The club has sought a new main clubhouse for nearly 12 years, according to CEO Shanna Warren. The organization previously planned to build a facility to accommodate a growing membership, but after hearing that the Salvation Army was selling a nearby building, decided to shift gears and announced it was moving forward with the purchase of the facility last month.
But though Warren said the opportunity “fell out of the sky,” mortgage payments during a pandemic are a significant burden on an organization that depends on grants and donations to function. The Cusumanos’ contribution, she explained, relieves much of that burden.
“As exciting as this project was, it was also very scary,” Warren said. “This is definitely a huge, huge gift and provides peace of mind, and it’s going to help us — I still don’t even believe it’s real.”
The other major funding sources for the project are a $1 million donation from the Walt Disney Co. and federal grant allocations from the city totaling another $1 million.
The new clubhouse is more than twice the size of the current facility at about 22,000 square feet, which Warren said will allow the club to have an indoor gym, dance and art studios, a lab, an outdoor courtyard and other amenities for its members. More than 200 members and 70 employees use the club’s current main clubhouse, according to its representatives.
The nonprofit, like other chapters of the Boys & Girls Club of America, offers children’s programs, including distance learning assistance and after-school activities.
The Cusumano family has been heavily involved with the club for much of its 25-year presence in Burbank, according to Warren, with Caroline Cusumano serving on the nonprofit’s board at one point. Warren explained the family has donated to the club before and attended many of its events.
Caroline’s husband, Michael, said that the family has been impressed with the club’s services to the community and that he has worked informally with the nonprofit as it has sought a new central building.
“We have been through their existing facility a number of times,” he explained, “so when we had the opportunity go through the new facility … it was just really apparent to us that this was really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to be able to acquire a facility that’ll really, really serve our youth for a long time.”
The campaign to fund the new building is now public, according to Warren, meaning the club will have to step up its efforts to seek donations and support. Board members will be giving tours of the new facility, she added.
And though the economic effects of a global pandemic put pressure on both nonprofits and donors, Michael Cusumano explained that his family was also inspired to donate because of them.
“This is a tough time, and organizations like Boys & Girls Club, it’s really a challenge for them to survive … in this environment,” he said. “So that was a reason we felt really compelled to try and step up and do what we could and ensure this is able to move forward on a solid footing.”