The Isla Vista Teen Center is seeking open pockets and charitable donations from the community after suffering a drastic budget cut for next year.
Due to a severely reduced budget at UCSB, necessitated by statewide cuts passed by Gov. Gray Davis, the teen center will lose all of its university-sponsored funding, which accounts for one-third of the center’s total revenue. The teen center had made an agreement with the university for $40,000 per year for three years, except in the case of substantial university budget cuts.
This year, the center raised $120,000 in revenue, of which $36,000 was funded by the university. This $4,000 budget cut will increase to $40,000 next year, which will significantly affect the center’s operations.
“This is a big blow to a little center,” said Mike Folley, director of the center. “This is a threat we take very seriously. We had planned to raise money to refurbish the center and to stay open on Friday and Saturday nights, not just after school, but these plans have now been put on hold.”
The center used the money received from UCSB primarily for operational costs, while other grants were used for special programs and staff compensation. In order to compensate for this loss, the center is putting in requests to local and national foundations.
“When we call these foundations, they’re very warm and they want to be helpful and responsive,” Folley said. “Right now it’s just harder for people to give due to the current economic conditions.”
Folley said the university has been generous to the center in the past and is working to find a way to continue its funding.
“[The funding cut] in no way indicates a lack of enthusiasm or support for the teen center,” Dean of Students Yonie Harris said. “The center is vital to the community and the university has always supported it. This is something we hated to do, but we really had no choice. It was a very painful decision to come to.”
Before the teen center opened, teen programs were held on campus. Due to this history, the university supported the development of the center. It currently offers a variety of after-school activities for young adults, including tutoring, art classes and sports.
“We have always felt strongly that the quality of life in Isla Vista is important to the campus because that’s where students live,” Harris said. “The teen center is something many students feel is an important element to the community and in fact support through volunteer work.”
Folley said the center is reaching out to the community for support and compensation to bridge the budget shortfall.
“We’re currently working on ways to open doors on campus,” he said. “When people on campus think about giving money and being charitable, we want them to look in their own backyards and think of the teen center.”
Anyone interested in becoming involved with the teen center either through financial support or volunteering can contact the center at 685-9170.