Friday, October 03, 2008

Barclays Dedicates New Sports Fields to East Side Charter School Students

WILMINGTON, Del. — To enrich the lives of Wilmington residents and students, Barclays dedicated two new playgrounds, a football field, baseball diamond and three basketball courts to East Side Charter School as part of the Barclays Spaces for Sports initiative.

East Side Charter School is the first location in the United States to benefit from the Barclays Spaces for Sports initiative, a global program first launched in the UK in 2004 that focuses on revitalizing communities.

The new EastSide Sports Center is made possible by a $500,000 grant from Barclays plus additional support from Yaverland Foundation, Edgar A. Thronson Foundation and Rodney Robinson Landscape Architects.

"I am incredibly excited to dedicate these new fields and playgrounds to the students of East Side Charter School, and to the residents of our local, underserved, community. I know that the activities conducted and the sports played on these fields will foster a sense of camaraderie, partnership and community among our students and our surrounding neighborhoods. Those sports activities and that sense of community will be an essential part of the mental, physical and social development of our students," said Charles McDowell, chair of the East Side Charter Board. "Once again, we are very blessed to have this magnanimous support from Barclays, a company that has continuously played a large role in mentoring our students, educating them about fiscal responsibility, and helping them learn and grow in both the classroom and now on the playing fields."

Since its inception, Barclays Spaces for Sports has created more than 200 sustainable sports sites and awarded more than 4,000 coaching packs in the UK. Following its success in the UK the program was expanded globally in April 2008, with sites already open in South Africa and now the United States. The expansion of the program reflects Barclays’ role as a global business leader and as a supportive member of the greater global community.

"Barclays Spaces for Sports has given over half a million people globally the opportunity to benefit from sports and the opportunity to break the cycle of deprivation," said Lloyd M. Wirshba, CEO, Barclaycard US, the credit card business of Barclays PLC in the United States. "We are especially delighted that our own East Side Charter School was chosen as a Spaces for Sports site in the US. Barclays has a proud global tradition of fostering community spirit among its employees, and this spirit is reflected in the work that has gone into these fields and through the countless hours that we have spent nurturing the growth and development of the East Side Charter students."

Barclays has been an active supporter of East Side Charter School since 2003.

East Side Learning Center, the first charter school in the country to be founded within a public housing authority's property, is located in the economically deprived neighborhoods of East Lake and Riverside. According to the 2007 Wilmington Kids Count Fact Book, East Side mirrors the socioeconomic profile of the city: 60 percent of families are headed by single parents; 31 percent of children live below the poverty line; and 90 percent of its children receive free or reduced price lunch. Census data also indicates that this East Lake area has the highest percentage of high school dropouts who are 25 years of age or older compared to the rest of the state, 55 percent and 17 percent respectively. East Side currently enrolls 400 students from 3 year olds through Grade 8, with the addition of more classes of first through eighth grades.

Headquartered in Wilmington, Del., Barclaycard US creates customized co-branded credit card programs for some of the country's most successful travel, entertainment, retail and financial institutions, including US Airways, Best Western, Carnival Cruise Lines, Travelocity, L.L.Bean, Barnes & Noble, BJ's Wholesale Club and UBS. The company employs 1,200 associates and was named a Top Employer in Delaware in 2008. Barclaycard is a division of Barclays PLC, a major global financial services provider engaged in retail and commercial banking, credit cards, investment banking, wealth management and investment management services. With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries, employs 135,000 people and services accounts for over 27 million customers and clients worldwide.

Barclays does a great job fostering community spirit among its employees, who have played an integral role in helping to support East Side Charter School. They take part in events such as Make a Difference Day and the Barclaycard USA Cycle Chellange, which raised more than $70,000 for the schools computer learning center in 2007.

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