Panda Cares Foundation awards $25,000 grant to support Boys & Girls Club’s academic success programs

The board and staff of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota are pleased to announce that the Panda Cares Foundation has awarded the local organization with a grant for $25,000. The purpose of this grant is to support in-person academic success programming at the Clubs, including: Project Learn, Power Hour, Summer Brain Gain and STEM programming.

“We are so thankful that Panda Express ‘cares’ for our kids!” said Geri Bechtold, Vice President of Operations. “Their support will help us implement daily homework help and tutoring programs for youth at all our sites, which will keep them on track for academic success.”

Bechtold said that Panda Care’s support will also help fund hands-on, fun learning activities that take place daily at the Clubs, including STEM activities like science experiments, engineering projects, technology-based activities like simple coding and more.

“Everything we do at the Club is to reinforce the learning that is taking place in school and to expose youth to career opportunities to build their futures,” said Bechtold.

Since 2020, the Panda Cares Foundation, the charitable arm of Panda Express has partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) to foster academic success for America’s youth at Clubhouses across the country, providing more than $13 million in funding as well as in-kind donations of books, meals and more to support the academic wellbeing of Club youth.

With the reality that not all youth have access to quality education, Panda has aligned with BGCA to give youth the equal opportunity to learn, lead and thrive for better lives. With this initiative, Panda has also aligned with BGCA’s strategic plan to increase the quality of academic success programming in Clubs.

In 2021, Panda Cares became the largest single-year corporate partner with an investment of $8.785 million. Through Panda Cares’ investment, Clubs receive funding to provide high-quality academic programming to youth in need. Through this partnership, Panda Cares and BGCA will empower thousands of youth at Boys & Girls Clubs across the country to excel in school, character and leadership.




On a mission to inspire better lives, Panda Express® is the largest Asian dining concept in the U.S. Family-owned and operated since 1983 by co-founders and co-CEOs Andrew and Peggy Cherng, Panda Express is best known as a trailblazer for creating a wide variety of industry-first recipes, including its best seller the Original Orange Chicken® and award-winning Honey Walnut Shrimp™, which have defined the category of authentic American Chinese cuisine. Each dish at Panda Express, including the Wok Smart® selections, is thoughtfully crafted with quality ingredients and inspired by bold Chinese flavors and culinary principles. The restaurant brand has more than 2,200 locations and has introduced American Chinese cuisine to twelve international countries.

Powered by this global family of associates, Panda Cares®, the philanthropic arm of Panda Express, has raised more than $237 million and dedicated countless volunteer hours in bettering the health and education for over 12 million youths, as well as supporting communities in need since 1999. In 2020, the organization established the Panda Cares Scholars Program to provide the necessary funding, academic support and leadership development to help high school and college students learn, lead and thrive towards a bright future. For more information, visit or



Since 1974, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota has provided hope and opportunity to tens of thousands of young people. Our programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.

More than 25 nationally tested and proven programs are available in the areas of education, the environment, health, the arts, careers, drug and alcohol prevention, leadership development, and athletics. These programs address today’s most pressing youth issues teaching young people the skills they need to succeed in life.

The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota is to do whatever it takes to empower all youth to reach their full potential.