The Packard Foundation is bullish on ranch for kids in trouble.
Thursday, May 2, 2002
Duane Tanner stands at the window of an abandoned juvenile detention center outside Salinas, looks out at the waving grass and sees an amphitheater where kids can act out. The chief of the county probation department, Tanner wants to turn what used to be known as the Boys Ranch-shuttered for the last 20 years-into a progressive educational and vocational center for local troubled youth.
"It''s so sad, with all the lack of resources for kids, that this place sat empty for so many years," he says.
The 100-acre site on Old Stage Road is owned by the county. Animal Control offices occupy one small building, the former dormitory is being gutted and the dining hall needs to be renovated. A boxing ring is set up in a large, airy gymnasium, and now is used through the week for a youth recreation program.
Tanner and others want to move what''s now known as the Youth Complex, located in the old Natividad Hospital in East Salinas, up to the ranch site. Today 22 young people are involved in the day-to-day education and treatment program there, while hundreds access its other services.
There''s a wide array of vocational and educational programs planned for the Rancho Natividad Youth Complex (RNYC), and it''s going to cost a lot of money-according to one source, it could require a commitment of $5 million.
As Tanner drove up to the ranch site last week he announced that the Packard Foundation had gotten involved and liked what it saw.
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, founded in 1964 by the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, has assets of $6.2 billion, and in 2001 made grants of $454 million. In addition to its array of causes, the Packard Foundation has made a commitment to specifically help the communities of the Central Coast.
Carla Dartis, the Foundation''s program manager for this project, is enthusiastic about RNYC-although she says the Foundation has not yet made a written commitment to back it.
"I love that project," she says.
Packard has already made two grants to RNYC, one of which was $85,000 to conduct a feasibility study. Dartis says the Foundation is awaiting a final report, due in May, of what the center might look like and how much it will cost.
"We have not committed to any loans or guarantees," she says. Dartis, who grew up in urban Los Angeles, finds much promise in the concept. The fact that law enforcement officials are taking a preventative rather than punitive approach to helping kids-plus the ranch''s idyllic setting-make her optimistic.
The Packard Foundation is not the only big hitter lined up behind RNYC. Its board of directors include Superior Court Judge John Phillips, Tanner, Salinas Mayor Anna Caballero, County Supervisor Louis Calcagno, as well as Bert Cutino of the Sardine Factory and many other area business leaders.
Marie Glavin, a management consultant, is running an evaluation of state-funded county youth programs and also monitoring the effort to create the RNYC. She says once the dollar amounts are determined, a capital campaign will get underway, seeking a handful of large-scale donors. A commitment from Packard "would be a huge vote of confidence," she says.
Glavin says the architectural firms that are designing the project have not yet completed cost estimates. She expects to know by mid-May.
One key aspect to RNYC is vocational training. In addition to a working restaurant where young people would learn the hospitality business, the plan calls for a nine-hole golf course that will be maintained and managed by RNYC kids. Glavin says the project organizers had been approached by the Pebble Beach Co. with a request for workforce training. She says a charity associated with the AT&T Pebble Beach Golf Tournament-The Monterey Peninsula Foundation- has already donated $77,000.
Likewise, the Monterey-based Community Foundation has put up $200,000 to fund a youth counselor for the existing Youth Complex programs.
Although philanthropic dollars are scarce these days, Glavin is hoping for backing from the Packard Foundation. "When Packard says this project is really great, that says a lot to people," she says.