VBGCQ Opens New Science Lab With $ 1.25M Grant

VBGCQ Opens New Science Lab With $ 1.25M Grant

In a first-of-its-kind private contribution to the new Boys & Girls Club, the $1.25 million commu­nity investment by CHPE will fund a new STEM science lab and programming with a focus on cli­mate and energy innovation. The new science labs are scheduled to open in 2026 and provide science programming for children from grades K through 8th. “We are grateful for this contribution to our project that will transform the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens into a state of the art hub for education and innovation for all residents of Queens,” said Costa Constantinides, CEO of VBGCQ. “It is proof that the developer of the Champlain Hudson Power Express project is here to stay, to be a good neighbor not just by reducing the fossil generation that has plagued our families for years, but by contributing to this exciting project that will provide opportunity to the children of As­toria for decades to come. We are hopeful that oth­ers who come into our community to develop projects will see this as a catalyst for investment in our neighborhoods which is a win/win for every­one.”

“The Champlain Hudson Power Express team is excited about today’s announcement which sup­ports the Variety Boys & Girls Club commitment to serving the local community,” said Hydro-Québec President and CEO Sophie Brochu and TDI CEO Don Jessome. “It’s our hope that the part­nership in this 21st century science lab will provide life changing experiences and open career pathways in the clean economy for the youth living in Queens.”

“I’m so thrilled that the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens will be receiving a major donation for the construction of a science lab and STEM pro­gramming,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Mal­oney. “Our children are our future, and I can think of no better way to support them and our planet than providing educational resources in science, technol­ogy, engineering, and mathematics. With this new donation for a science lab and STEM programming at the Club, there is no limit to what these kids and this Club can do. I want to thank Costa Constanti­nides for his leadership at the helm of the Variety Boys and Girls Club, and congratulations on this incredible partnership.”

The $1.25M grant is the first ever to be awarded by the CHPE Community Engagement Fund, which supports community capital projects in neighborhoods that will host the 1,250 MW buried clean energy transmission line. The CHPE Com­munity Engagement Fund invests in projects fo­cused on education, science, and environmental and social justice. The Champlain Hudson Power Ex­press clean energy project will begin delivering re­newable energy directly into Astoria in 2025 to help reduce reliance on fossil fuel power generation and its associated local air pollution that has negative health impacts on frontline communities, especially in Western Queens’ “Asthma Alley.”

Story Highlights

  • The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens (VBGCQ) announced on January 10 a new part­nership with the Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) clean energy transmission line to construct a state-of-the-art Boys & Girls Clubhouse in Asto­ria. This transformative project will expand the number of young people served by the Club’s edu­cational programming from 4,000 to more than 16,000, many of whom come from families who struggle economically.

  • A rendering of the STEM lab.

“The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens is already a vitally important institution in our bor­ough — one with an even brighter future, thanks to this critical allocation courtesy of Hydro-Quebec, TDI and the historic Champlain Hudson Power Ex­press project,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr. “The impact this funding will have on the education and overall future of our children is immeasurable. Queens is deeply grateful to our clean energy and community partners for se­curing this investment on behalf of our borough.”

“I am so thrilled to join former Council Member Constantinides in celebrating the Champlain Hud­son Power Express’s donation to the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens,” said Tiffany Cabán, Council Member for the 22nd Council District. “The Variety Boys & Girls Club is an essential community hub in Western Queens, having pro­vided life-saving programming to youth and fami­lies for the last 65 years. The inclusion of a STEM lab and STEM programming in the new Boys & Girls Club’s building will provide children and young adults the opportunity to problem-solve, in­novate, create, and learn in a safe and fun environ­ment. I applaud Champlain Hudson Power Express for recognizing the importance of investing in our youth and look forward to visiting the STEM lab when it opens!”

“The Queens Chamber of Commerce is hon­ored to participate with our two members, the Vari­ety Boys and Girls Club and CHPE,” said Thomas Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to supporting these two great organizations in the years ahead.” “Giving opportunities to our young people has been the focus of Variety Boys and Girls Club for over 65 years, and this program allows it to grow to meet the needs that our youngest generation will face,” said Richard Khuzami, President of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association (OANA). “And we also want to compliment CHPE for bringing clean sustainable energy to our neighborhood.”

“The board of directors at Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens looks forward to this long-term re­lationship with Champlain Hudson Power Express,” said Walter Sanchez, Board of Directors President of VBGCQ. “We are convinced that the state-of-the-art STEM lab this contribution enables us to build will help us to capture the passion of thousands of youth in the neighborhood. With this lab, not only will the short term goal of fulfilling the lives of our children be enhanced, but the future of energy in our region is obviously in good hands.” “Clean, renewable power is an essential need for both our local and global environment. As CHPE works toward bringing that critical resource to our city, we look forward to their continued investment across the community to demonstrate the equitable partnership that this project promises” said Anthony Liberatoscioli, Chair of Astoria Park Alliance.

The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens is the largest youth development organization in Western Queens, serving more than 4,000 young people every year. An anchor in the Astoria/Long Island City community since 1955, VBGCQ offers children a safe haven to learn, play, and grow into tomorrow’s leaders. The Club’s 30,000-square-foot facility is open to the community seven days a week and includes an indoor swimming pool, makerspace lab, computer room, teaching kitchen, gym, auditorium, art studio, dance studio, film studio, and outdoor playground. While the Club has evolved over time to meet the changing needs of our community, its founding mission remains the same: to make a difference in the lives of young people, and enable all children – especially those who need us most – to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible New Yorkers. Part of New York State’s comprehensive renewable energy vision to reduce by 80% New York City’s reliance on fossil fuels by 2030, CHPE will deliver reliable renewable power for more than 1 million homes and businesses across the city. The buried transmission line – scheduled to begin construction later this year – will lower greenhouse gas emissions, create 1,400 good-paying jobs, and generate billions of dollars in new investment in New York’s economy while delivering affordable renewable energy across the state.