Mary and Frances Youth Center Opens at VCU

Facility will provide youth in the Richmond community with life skills, mentoring, academic and athletic programs

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RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 28, 2007) – Less than a year after breaking ground for the Mary and Frances Youth Center at Virginia Commonwealth University, the facility was opened and dedicated on Friday.

The Mary and Frances Youth Center, located at 120. S. Linden St., will provide youth in the Richmond community with a wide range of life skills, mentoring, academic and athletic programs.

The center was funded by a private, $1.5 million donation from Michael Fraizer and his wife, Elizabeth. Fraizer is the chairman and CEO of Genworth Financial. The center is named to honor the life-long volunteerism and commitment to philanthropy of the Fraizers' mothers, Mary Fraizer and Frances Royer. Both women were dedicated volunteers in their communities.

"Today marks the beginning of an exciting journey for the many young people who will be given the skills, coaching and support that are so valuable in shaping their futures and giving them better opportunities to succeed," said Michael D. Fraizer. "This youth center represents a model for such programs as it brings together the energies and resources of VCU, community partners, volunteers, families and donors and aligns them for impact."

The center initially will be home to Lobs & Lessons, a collaboration with William Byrd Community House, Sacred Heart Center and Northside YMCA to provide an after-school program that promotes the learning of tennis and life skills for more than 100 Richmond area youth each year. The program is a partnership of VCU's Division of Community Engagement, the VCU SportsCenter and Genworth Financial.

"The Mary and Frances Youth Center is a great example of a strong partnership that will improve the entire community and provide opportunities to children who otherwise would never be exposed to a college campus and all of the aspirations it holds," said VCU President Eugene P. Trani. "Whether they end up going to VCU or not, after spending time at the youth center, these young people will know that college can be in their future."

The 5,400 square-foot building includes instructional space for tutoring, a seminar room, offices, and catering space. The grounds include two hard-surface tennis courts and basketball court.