Fun City Youth Academy is a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization that provides year-round programming in
a safe and stimulating environment to help youth reach their full potential.
For more than 40 years, Fun City has offered programs that combine academic work with activities that
promote cultural awareness and build self worth.
It has addressed one of the most pressing problems that our country faces: the persistent achievement gap among
low income children. There are many successful alumni of the program in the Columbia area who can attest to the
program's contribution to their success.
The Fun City Youth Academy provides families and their 5-14 year old children with year-round programming in a safe and stimulating environment. We offer:
1. Learning is fun in our programs, as we incorporate creativity and technology into our reading and math lessons.
2. Opportunities - Fun City kids have the opportunity to expand their world, enrich their ethnic identify, meet
successful, caring adults, make friends with other youth and give back to the community.
3. Year-round programming with the Saturday Academy during the school year and the Summer Academy for eight weeks during the summer break.
The program that came to be known in the community as Fun City Youth Academy was founded more than forty years ago at the
grass roots level by individuals who recognized that the achievement gap was hindering the development of youth in the city's first ward.
They wanted to establish a program that would promote academic knowledge retention during weekend and summer breaks.
The visionary co-founders were the Rev. and Mrs. Melvin West, who were joined later by Mrs. Beulah Ralph who provided leadership and support
over many years of service. The program was initially housed in the lower level of St. Paul AME Church on Park Avenue with 25 children in attendance.
In July of 1973, it was incorporated as Community Playground of Columbia, Inc. (CPCI), a non-profit organization that operates as Fun City Youth Academy.
The program moved to Frederick Douglass High School in 1975, to Ridgeway Elementary School in 2013, and to West Boulevard Elementary in 2016. The Saturday
Youth Academy opened at the J. W. "Blind" Boone Community Center in 2003. In 2016 we left the "Blind" Boone Center and opened at 2 new locations: Progressive
Missionary Baptist Church and New Horizons United Methodist. We now serve up to 150 children and their families annually.
Currently, the principal funding for Fun City Youth Academy programs is provided by
the County of Boone, the City of Columbia, Children's Trust Fund of Missouri, Veterans
United Foundation, and Joe Machens Ford Lincoln.
The County of Boone is helping to fund the Summer and Saturday Youth Academies with an
agreement for purchase of services. The agreement was initiated in 2016 and renewed in 2017.
With this funding, Fun City provides programming to improve mental health outcomes in youth,
programming that promotes healthy lifestyle choices amongst youth, and programming to help
strengthen family units that include youth under the age of 19.
The City of Columbia is helping to fund Fun City's Summer Academy with a 2 year contract to
provide social services to address issues related to Children, Youth, and Families. This
much-needed funding for the Summer Academy helps Fun City address two issues affecting
Columbia youth: 1) summer fade, the term used to describe the loss of 2 to 3 months of reading
and math skills for underserved children who are not actively engaged in learning activities
over the summer recess; and 2) the achievement gap that is currently between economically
disadvantaged and advantaged Columbia youth.
The Missouri Children's Trust Fund has awarded a 5 year grant to Fun City for primary prevention services geared to the general
population. They include work with children to build a strong sense of self-worth and training in social and emotional skills,
such as respectful behavior and assuming responsibility for actions. Work with parents includes parent-group discussions using
the Building Strong Families curriculum and the Tools for Living project.
Additional funding for the Summer and Saturday Youth Academies and for general operating
expenses continues to be dependent on contributions by generous companies, civic organizations,
foundations and individuals. We want to thank the Downtown Optimist Club, Boone Electric Community
Trust, and Mel and Barbara West for major gifts in 2017.
President: George W. Norman, Jr., MS
Vice-President: Rev. James E. Patterson
Secretary: Deb Swanegan
Treasurer: Austin Gaughan
Valencia Broadus, Ll.D
Adrian Clifton, Ph.D
Executive Director: Bonnie Yantzi
Support Administrator: Phillip Williams, Sr.
Parent Advocate: Ida Hatton
Saturday Program Coordinator: Autumn Gholston
Summer Principal: Lindsay Murray