A little over a year after a Brooklyn Park teen center, the A-List, opened its doors, financial troubles threaten to put an end to the center and its programs.
The A-List officially suspended operations Thursday evening, posting signs at its Brooklyn Boulevard location.
Carla Pavone, interim executive director of the A-List, said the nonprofit incurred significant debt in 2011 when it renovated and retrofitted a 5,400 square feet former hardware store into the new teen center. The organization faced increasing difficulty attracting new donors and renewing grants this year with an existing debt of $100,000, according to Pavone.
"When an organization has that kind of debt it's actually very hard for it to raise money from foundations and others who want to support programs, not debt," said Pavone.
A-List Co-founders Matt Norris and Asha Sharma initially raised $235,000 through corporate and individual donations as well as through federal grants to fund the facility, which was designed to engage area youth in after-school programs and creative arts.
The facility also provided part-time employment for about 15 teenagers through the A-List's on-site snack shop and screen printing business.
Norris credits the organization and the A-List's shop manager, Jeanne McMahon, with helping to mentor and guide dozens of teens, helping many gain admittance to college.
"It's been very rewarding to see the difference that it's been able to make, we've been able to help so many young people," said Norris. "We were able to get about 80 teens from the Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center area into college this past year."
The A-List's board of directors will meet July 14 to decide the long-term future of the organization. Pavone said the hope is that some of the organization's programs will be able to continue in some form.
Quinton Hooker, 17, of Brooklyn Center said he's sad to see the A-List close. Hooker was involved in the planning of the teen center over the past several years, and he's worked at the A-List as a teen director since April of 2011. For him, the closing feels a bit like losing a home.
"It meant a lot to a lot of people and to see it go is just really sad," said Hooker. "Even though it's closing now, it doesn't mean that everything we worked for just goes away."
Alexandra Renslo reporting
Friday, July 06, 2012