TRACY (CBS13) — Leaders of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tracy are scrambling to find funds to help keep their programs running after the agency lost out on a federal grant worth half a million dollars.

The agency has seven clubs and serves close to 800 students – and not just during the school year. It also has programs in the summer.

Jahmir Mitchell, 12, is among the hundreds of kids who participate in activities with the Boys and Girls Clubs. In a way, it’s become his home away from home.

“We come back and do science experiments, or something like studying the structures of mass or something like reading, spelling,” he said.

Since 2009 the agency has received a $500,000 federal grant to provide academic help, food and a host of enrichment activities for kids. This year, however, the funds won’t be there.

“We were devastated, $500,000 goes a long way in serving the kids that we have. It really affects us,” said Kelly Wilson, executive director, Boys and Girls Clubs of Tracy.

This is the first time in almost a decade the organization will not be receiving the funds. No one really knows why its request was rejected, but the county of education which writes the grant is working to figure it out so it can be ready for next year’s proposal.

“There is not a lot for kids here especially as the kids get older so you can imagine in the summer having kids know where to go all day, every day its problematic,” said Julianne Cordova, board member.

Board members are now looking for corporate sponsorships, individual donations and any other public funds to get them through another year.

“The impact of boys and girls clubs is so big in many ways that not having this available for the children of this community would be a great loss,” said board member, Dr. Sunil Patel.

If the club falls short on raising $500,000, that means it will be forced to cut services. It also means turning away kids who grew up depending on programs.

“What it did was give me a place to be at when my parents weren’t home, around some positive people,” said Junior Cueva, director of operations for the club.

Leaders say their sole objective now is to keep the doors open. The club has already received donations from its board and pledges from the community.

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