Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes speaks to children in the Junior Master Gardeners after-school class, run by Mercer County 4-H and the Boys & Girls Club of Trenton and Mercer County, at Mott Elementary School in Trenton Oct. 18.Full size photo

Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes speaks to children in the Junior Master Gardeners after-school class, run by Mercer County 4-H and the Boys & Girls Club of Trenton and Mercer County, at Mott Elementary School in Trenton Oct. 18.

Contact: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

TRENTON, N.J. -Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes joined representatives from Mercer County 4-H and the Boys and Girls Club of Trenton and Mercer County today to help present $50 gift cards to Trenton area youth at Mott Elementary School.

The gift cards were provided as part of a $1 million donation to the National 4-H Council from the JCPenney Afterschool Fund to award mini-grants to county-based 4-H Afterschool programs. The cards are to be used by the youth's families to purchase clothing and other items for the school year.

"It is really amazing to be in the company of these children and see how much they are enjoying their after-school programs," Hughes said after visiting students of the Junior Master Gardeners' program. "These children are growing in so many ways in a safe, healthy environment. They are the future of our community and are getting positive instruction after school through Mercer County 4-H."

Chad Ripberger, Director of the Mercer County 4-H, and Reggie Coleman, Director of Programs and Operations of the Boys and Girls Club of Trenton and Mercer County, joined Hughes at the presentation.

Mercer County 4-H applied for a grant from the JCPenney Afterschool Fund and received $55,000, which is partially funding the 110 after-school slots for Trenton youth.

Mercer County 4-H is providing youth development programming to these children, which is administered by the Boys and Girls Club at its Centre Street location for students of Emily Fisher Charter School, Village Charter School, and Foundation Academy, and at the Mott, Gregory, and Robbins elementary school sites.

Among the programs offered by Mercer County 4-H are the 12-week Junior Master Gardener program at Mott and Gregory, Horses and Youth program, and the 4-H Afterschool Adventure program.

4-H, a youth development program operated by the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension, provides research-based, hands-on learning experiences for youth in Mercer County through 4-H Afterschool. Programs are held Monday through Friday at various sites and involve activities and skill development in areas such as nutrition, expressive arts, and environmental awareness.

The National 4-H Council received $1 million from the JCPenney Afterschool Fund to award mini-grants to county-based 4 H Afterschool programs across the United States. All youth in 4-H Afterschool programs that receive mini-grants will be given $50 gift cards to JCPenney stores to purchase clothing and items for the new school year.

"The JCPenney Afterschool Fund is committed to improving the well-being of youth and increasing access to life-enriching after-school programs that keep children safe and foster their academic, physical and social development," said Jodi Gibson, president, JCPenney Afterschool Fund. "We are proud of our partnership with 4-H that has helped build a solid, nationwide after-school program infrastructure that will benefit youth for years to come."

"With the support of the JCPenney Afterschool Fund, 4-H provided high quality after-school experiences for more than 400,000 youth nationwide in 2006," said Donald T. Floyd, Jr., president and CEO, National 4-H Council. "These mini-grants ensure all young people, regardless of their circumstances, have access to high-quality after-school programs."

4-H is a community of more than 6.5 million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. National 4-H Council is the national, private sector, non-profit partner of the 4-H Youth Development Program and its parent, the Cooperative Extension System of the United States Department of Agriculture. Learn more about the 4-H adventure at www.4husa.org.

The JCPenney Afterschool Fund is a charitable organization committed to providing America's youth with access to safe, high-quality after-school programs. The Fund's contributions give youth the opportunity to participate in programs that foster their academic, physical and social development, and help them reach their full potential. For more information, visit www.jcpenneyafterschool.org.