The city's Boys and Girls Club Friday celebrated its selection as the first of 100 clubs nationwide that will receive a $66,000 grant from the Taco Bell Foundation to help youth at risk.
"Today represents the first stage of a long-range plan to better address the needs of our older youth," said John Brewster, executive director of the club. The grant will provide "staff training, extended hours, programs for teens that promote leadership skills, educational advancement and career planning," he said.
The club will receive $22,000 a year for the next three years, officials said.
Among other projects, the West Highland facility plans to add a 4,000-square-foot building next to the existing club to be used as a teen center, Brewster said.
The grant is part of Irvine-based Taco Bell's "Teen Supreme" program, whose goal is to raise $15 million in the next five years for youngsters.
In September, President Clinton and basketball star Shaquille O'Neal visited the Santa Ana club to call on the private sector to help save the nation's youth from crime and drugs.
The Santa Ana club, established in 1957, provides services to more than 3,000 boys and girls each year, officials said.