GRASS VALLEY, Calif. – Bright Futures for Youth will open a NEO Youth Center at its offices on Litton Hill in Grass Valley, providing after-school and occasional weekend activities and events for children and young adults in Nevada County.

Bright Futures for Youth has started a capital campaign to raise $500,000 for the NEO Youth Center, the largest-ever fundraising effort for the organization.

“We’re looking forward to expanding NEO and meeting the ever-changing needs of youth, and the NEO Youth Center helps us meet that mission,” said Jennifer Singer, Executive Director of Bright Futures for Youth. “The NEO Youth Center will truly be an asset to the community, and an investment in the next generation and the future of Nevada County.”

The NEO Youth Center will be located on the ground floor of the Litton Building at 200 Litton Drive. The well-known building is already home to Bright Futures for Youth’s three programs – The Friendship Club, NEO and SAFE, which opened an on-site Drop-in-Center for children and young adults experiencing homelessness in October.

The NEO Youth Center should open in late summer 2023, following an extensive renovation of the 3,700-square-foot space.

The NEO Youth Center, which is part of the NEO program, will be available for 11- to 25-year-old residents and will offer a long list of activities and events, from art workshops to live music and open-mic nights in a safe and supervised setting. Several hundred youth participate every year in NEO’s after-school programs, summer camps and weekend activities.

Chess at NEO Youth Center

“The NEO Youth Center will offer youth a place to get together and hang out, make new friends, develop new skills and passions, and even a place to do their homework,” Singer said.

The previous NEO Youth Center closed in early 2020, just as the Covid pandemic arrived that greatly affected get-togethers amid health and safety requirements – and shortly before the merger between The Friendship Club and NEO. Since then, NEO program participants have been meeting in smaller groups on the second floor of the Bright Futures for Youth building on Litton Drive.

Bright Futures for Youth has been looking for the best available location for the NEO Youth Center for the past few years. When a couple of businesses closed in the Litton Building, the choice was simple.

“It’s a perfect space that meets our current and future needs, while also offering easy access to the other Bright Futures for Youth programs and staff,” said Halli Ellis-Edwards, cofounder and Program Director of NEO. “There’s some crossover of our three programs, and an under-one-roof approach will work very well.”

The NEO Youth Center will also allow children and young adults to develop friendships and learn from their peers.

“After-school programs are critical in helping students connect with each other, overcome challenges, succeed in school and thrive down the road,” said Nevada Joint Union High School District Director of Pupil Services Tim Reid, a Bright Futures for Youth board member.

And the NEO Youth Center will allow youth to “learn new things and have a safe place after school,” said Zack LaFerriere, School Resource Officer for the Grass Valley Police Department.

In addition, NEO Youth Center participants will have access to much-needed services such as healthy meals, warm clothes, health care and counseling services, if needed.

“The NEO Youth Center will be a very special place, filled with creativity, energy and a lot of fun,” Ellis-Edwards said. “But it will also help meet a wide range of needs, from helping kids develop leadership skills to connecting them with job opportunities.”

You can learn more about the capital campaign and how to support the new NEO Youth Center at https://bffyouth.org/support-neo/ or contact Cheryl Rubin, cherylr@bffyouth.org or 530-265-4311 ext. 206.

About Bright Futures for Youth

Bright Futures for Youth is a nonprofit committed to making a life-changing difference for children and young adults in Nevada County. Bright Futures for Youth – created by the merger of The Friendship Club and NEO Youth Center in 2020 – has three programs: The Friendship Club, founded in 1995; NEO, founded in 2008; and SAFE, launched in 2019 to help youth experiencing homelessness. Bright Futures for Youth focuses on health and wellness, healthy relationships, goal setting, self-awareness, self-sufficiency and community connectedness. For more information, visit www.bffyouth.org or Facebook at Facebook.com/BrightFuturesforYouth.