boys and girls club

Here Are the Top Character and Leadership Programs at BGCA

boysandgirlsclubOver the course of its 150-plus-year history, Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) has built a full suite of programs designed to help kids and teens excel in school and lead healthy, productive lives. With more than 4,600 Clubs in US cities and military installations worldwide, the organization offers programs in various areas, including education, health and wellness, sports, and the arts. A core focus of BGCA’s work is on instilling character and leadership skills among its 4.7 million members.

BGCA’s efforts to create 21st-century leaders have been very successful. In fact, 75 percent of its regular members report having volunteered in their communities at least once in the previous year. Meanwhile, 41 percent of Club youth report volunteering at least once per month. In addition to volunteering their time, BGCA members demonstrate good character through their willingness to stand up for what is right while ensuring that those around them feel important.

The ultimate goal of BGCA’s character and leadership programs is to help youth become caring and responsible citizens with the decision-making and planning skills needed to contribute positively to their local Club and greater communities. Read on to learn more about these impactful programs and initiatives.

 

Keystone Club

Much of BGCA’s character and leadership work is carried out in its Keystone Clubs. Designed for youth ages 14 to 18, Keystone Club is a national program that focuses on service and leadership and gives participants the opportunity to volunteer in

their communities. Under the guidance of an adult supervisor, youth engage in activities aimed at academic success and career preparation.

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Along with after-school activities, Keystone Club members participate in the BGCA-hosted National Keystone Conference. This annual multi-day event brings teen leaders and adult advisors from across the country together for activities focused on various social issues. More than 1,500 people took part in the 2019 Keystone Conference, which covered a range of topics, including school violence, mental health, and gender identity.

The National Keystone Conference and Keystone Clubs across the country are supported in large part through the generosity of Aaron’s, Inc. In 2018, the lease-purchase retailer’s giving division, Aaron’s Foundation, renewed its partnership with Keystone Clubs and BGCA via a three-year, $5-million commitment. The money will be used to fund the Keystone Conference and provide renovations of Clubs nationwide.

 

Million Members, Million Hours of Service

As its name suggests, Million Members, Million Hours of Service (MMMHS) is a BGCA initiative that aims to engage 1 million Club members in 1 million hours of community service each year. In addition to helping Club youth become more productive, service-oriented citizens, MMMHS benefits participants by promoting positive relationships and assisting them in avoiding risky behavior. Studies have also shown that youth who engage in service perform better academically and are less likely to drop out of high school.

The list of BGCA partners that have supported MMMHS includes the Citi Foundation, a group that backed past signature service events such as United We Serve: Summer of Service. BGCA continues to host service activities as part of MMMHS, but Club members are encouraged to host their own service projects throughout the year.

 

Torch Club

Referred to as “the club within the Club,” Torch Club was created to help adolescents ages 11 to 13 develop leadership skills as well as good character and integrity. Boys and girls who participate in local Torch Club programs elect leadership officers and work together to organize and implement various activities. These activities focus on service to Club and community, health and fitness, social recreation, and education. Torch Club members across the country are also invited to engage in a service-learning experience as part of the annual National Torch Club Project.

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Corporate supporters of Torch Club include Old Navy, which raises money for the national program via its annual back-to-school donation drive. In addition, Old Navy employees volunteer their time to Torch Clubs nationwide. Samsung Electronics America is also a Torch Club supporter. Each year, the company sponsors the Climate Superstars Challenge, which has eligible Torch Clubs competing to win Samsung products.

 

Youth of the Year

Since its beginnings as a grassroots initiative in the late 1940s, Youth of the Year has grown to become BGCA’s signature leadership development program. To become the Youth of the Year, a Club teen must advance through local, state, and regional events. Winners are chosen because they exemplify the BGCA mission and showcase the organization’s ability to help youth reach their full potential as responsible, productive, and caring citizens.

In addition to selecting one exceptional Club member as the National Youth of the Year, Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide involve more members in the program as part of its Youth of the Month component. Meanwhile, younger Club members ages 11 to 13 are recognized through the Junior Youth of the Year program.

In 2019, six outstanding young men and women were chosen as finalists for National Youth of the Year. The award was ultimately given to Sabrina M., a Barnard College freshman who has been a Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco member for over 12 years. She was honored during a special gala and celebration dinner in Washington, DC, and will now serve as the national teen spokesperson for Club youth.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

boys and girls club

A Look at the History of Boys and Girls Clubs of America

The roots of Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) can be traced back over 150 years to when three civic-minded Connecticut women organized the first club to help boys in need to get off the streets. From its humble beginnings, BGCA has become a well-respected national organization with a presence in communities across the country, as well as Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and military bases worldwide. Keep reading for a closer look at the history and evolution of BGCA.

 

Early History – Club Beginnings

boysandgirlsclubIn 1860, sisters Mary and Alice Goodwin joined Elizabeth Hammersley in founding the first club that would form the basis of BGCA. Known as The Dashaway Club, it began casually when the women invited a group of boys roaming the streets into their Hartford, Connecticut, homes for refreshments and recreation. The Dashaway Club soon expanded its home-based locations, leading the founders to rent a meeting hall to hold activities for club participants.

Two decades after its founding, The Dashaway Club underwent a reorganization led by another prominent Hartford woman, Mary Stuart Hall. Hall, who was Connecticut’s first female lawyer, renamed the club The Good Will Boys Club and directed its focus on proving that misbehaved street children could develop into productive members of society if given the right support and guidance. She specifically used her background in law to teach the boys and young men societal rules and expectations. Hall worked closely with the club for nearly five decades until her death in 1927.

 

Clubs Spread across the Country

By the time Hall began the reorganization of The Dashaway Club, similar organizations had already been established in cities outside of Hartford. One of the first of these was a club in New Haven that formed in the early 1870s. Led by John C. Collins, the club was based on a system of supportive guidance that is still a large part of the BGCA environment. Collins went on to develop a network of clubs throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Another early club, and one of the first to use “Boys’ Club” in its name, was The Boys’ Club of New York. The organization was founded in 1876 on the East Side of Manhattan by railroad magnate E.H. Harriman. As it grew in popularity, the club had to move to a five-story building to accommodate the large number of members. Soon, these early boys’ clubs in New York and New England were joined by similar organizations in other parts of the country. By the early 20th century, over three dozen clubs were operating in cities such as Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Nashville, and San Francisco.

 

Becoming a National Organization

The growing number of boys’ clubs in the United States led a group of early club leaders to join forces as part of a national movement. Their work led to the founding of the Federated Boys’ Clubs in 1906. The 53 clubs that comprised the federated union were the original members of a national organization that would be renamed Boys’ Clubs Federation in 1915 and Boys’ Clubs of America in 1931.

Over the next few decades, the Boys’ Clubs movement continued to spread across the country. By the early 1970s, the United States was home to 1,000 Clubs serving 1 million children. In 1980, the organization dropped the apostrophe from its name to become Boys Clubs of America. However, this name was short-lived.

Starting in the 1950s, Clubs nationwide had also started welcoming many female participants, a fact that wasn’t reflected in the “Boys’ Club” moniker. To recognize that girls were a welcome part of the organization, its leaders launched an effort to change its name in the late 1980s. In September 1990, the national organization’s name was officially changed to Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

 

Boys and Girls Clubs Today

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, membership in Boys and Girls Clubs of America continued to grow. By the time BGCA celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2006, approximately 2,000 local Clubs were helping over 2.5 million children and teens. Today, BGCA membership sits at over 4.7 million youth at more than 4,600 Club facilities.

In recent years, BGCA has focused on expanding the reach and scope of its programs. There are now over 1,000 Clubs in rural areas and nearly 500 BGCA-affiliated youth facilities on military installations around the globe. Additionally, there are more than 300 Clubs in public housing areas and nearly 200 Clubs on native lands.

From the earliest days of the organization, the programming at BGCA has sought to build good character and leadership while promoting healthy lifestyles and academic success. While the focus remains the same today, the group’s Academic Success Programs have changed somewhat in recent years to emphasize 21st-century skills. Members across all Clubs now take part in a variety of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) activities via programs such as Computer Science Pathway, DIY STEM, and Tech Girls Rock.

This type of programming now plays a key role in ensuring that BGCA can fulfill its mission and vision in order to help young people reach their full potential and find success as responsible, caring, and productive citizens. More information about BGCA’s history and its current programs is available at www.bgca.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

boys and girls club

Alumni of Boys and Girls Clubs Make a Difference in the World

For more than a century and a half, Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) has been providing the nation’s youth with a safe place to learn, grow, socialize, and prepare for success in their future academic and career pursuits. Over the years, millions of young people have benefitted from Club programs and have gone on to make major contributions to their professions and communities.

Today, BGCA estimates that the number of Club alumni in the world is close to 16 million people. To support these former Club members and provide them with opportunities to advance current BGCA programs, the organization recently launched its Alumni and Friends network. As part of the group’s work, BGCA oversees its Alumni Hall of Fame and operates various alumni initiatives. Read on to learn more about the latest Hall of Fame honorees and find out how BGCA alumni work in support of local Clubs and their youth members.

 

The BGCA Alumni Hall of Fame

While BGCA values the stories of all of its former members, it places a special emphasis on highlighting those individuals whose Club experiences helped to lead them to successful careers and/or roles in society. Each year, the organization recognizes top alumni by inducting a new class of honorees into the BGCA Alumni Hall of Fame.

In addition to accomplished business executives and government leaders, BGCA Alumni Hall of Fame members include well-known Olympians and professional athletes, as well as award-winning actors, musicians, and other artists. The Hall of Fame also comprises prominent military and community leaders.

The list of well-known Hall of Fame honorees includes top actors such as Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, along with successful athletes like Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Ashanti Douglas, Trey Songz, and several other musicians have also been inducted into the BGCA Alumni Hall of Fame. Other prominent members include the dancer Misty Copeland, politician Judith Zaffirini, and Olympic gold medalist Brook Bennett.

 

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Meet the 2019 Hall of Fame Honorees

The BGCA Alumni Hall of Fame recently got a bit bigger due to the addition of the 2019 class of inductees. Although each of the seven class members came from different backgrounds and went on to pursue different interests, they all share the experience of finding success in their chosen field after benefitting from the programs offered at their local Boys and Girls Club. The 2019 BGCA Alumni Hall of Fame inductees include the following:

Colonel John Chu—A former member of Boys and Girls Clubs of Fullerton in California, Colonel Chu attended his local Club from the age of 12 through high school. He went on to graduate from the US Military Academy and now commands more than 6,000 soldiers at Georgia’s Fort Gordon.

Trinity “Naomi” Fatu—Trinity Fatu attended Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida and grew up to become a dancer for the NBA’s Orlando Magic. She joined professional wrestling’s WWE later in her career and has been a cast member on Totally Divas on E since 2013.

Denise White—As a member of the Escondido Girls Club in California, Denise White found the support she needed after spending her early childhood in foster care. Today, she is a successful business leader who oversees one of the top athlete management firms in the sports industry.

Tom Ehlmann—Tom Ehlmann became a member of St. Charles Boys Club in Missouri when he was 8 and maintained membership throughout high school. His Club experience helped to lead him on the path to his current career as the president and general manager of Dallas’ NBC TV station. He also serves as a board member for Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas.

 

Benefits of Becoming a BGCA Alumni Member

Regardless of what they’ve done since moving on from their local Club, BGCA invites all alumni and supporters to join its Alumni and Friends network. With help from national sponsor Keurig Dr Pepper and national spokesperson Shaquille O’Neal, the BGCA Alumni and Friends network recruits and engages with former Club members from across the United States and other countries around the globe.

Alumni and supporters who join the network have the opportunity to reconnect with other former members of their hometown Clubs while building new relationships with Club members and friends from other areas of the country. The BGCA Alumni and Friends network also provides members with access to scholarships, mentorship, and career-support resources. This includes the support and resources offered as part of the “Stay Connected” campaign for new Club alumni who are graduating from high school.

In addition to providing Alumni and Friends with opportunities to improve their own lives, the network makes it easy for members to serve as advocates or volunteers for local Boys and Girls Clubs. Those who become involved can provide direct support for Club activities and help champion youth programming on the state and federal levels. More information about the BGCA Alumni and Friends network is available at www.bgca.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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This Is How Boys and Girls Clubs Prioritize Child Safety

boysandgirlsclubAs one of the country’s most well-known and trusted youth organizations, Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) takes its commitment to child safety in all of its programs extremely seriously. No individual or group is entirely immune from danger. However, BGCA has comprehensive protection measures in place to shield Club youth from anything that puts them at risk.

The organization also maintains a zero-tolerance policy that enforces its safety guidelines. This ensures that all Club staff, volunteers, and members adhere to the highest standards of ethical and safe behavior.

Moreover, BGCA advances programs and initiatives that focus specifically on protecting and supporting marginalized or overlooked kids and teens. Over the years, the group has taken an active role outside of Club doors to combat child abuse and promote safety within all youth organizations.

Its past work includes advocating for the passage of the US Protect Act and partnering with the FBI and other organizations on various youth-protection initiatives. Keep reading to learn more about BGCA’s commitment to child safety.

 

The BGCA Safety Plan

At the core of BGCA’s work to protect and support Club members is a multi-step plan that adheres to the latest best practices in youth safety. It was developed by BGCA’s Child and Club Safety Department. This provides local Clubs with support for issues ranging from physical and emotional safety to facilities management and emergency and disaster preparedness.

The plan starts by requiring that all staff members at its more than 4,300 Clubs nationwide undergo a comprehensive criminal background check. This includes screening through the National Sex Offender Registry.

The same checks are required of all BGCA board members and any volunteer who has direct contact with Club youth. Any potential employee or volunteer who has ever been convicted of a felony or recently convicted of a misdemeanor involving physical assault or battery, drugs, or animal cruelty is not eligible to work with BGCA on any level.

Another major component of BGCA’s safety plan focuses on providing ongoing child safety training for both staff and volunteers. The training is delivered through seminars, webinars, and conferences.

Each year, the organization takes a lead role in the National Child Safety and Protection Symposium. This event gives groups from across the United States the opportunity to share best practices for protecting the country’s youth.

Along with participating in regular safety training, all BGCA affiliates must maintain comprehensive safety policies and procedures. To ensure that the policies elevate safety to the highest level, each Club conducts annual assessments and oversees a board-led committee focused specifically on youth safety.

In addition to helping local Clubs carry out safety policies, these committees assist with critical incident reporting to local law enforcement and national BGCA authorities. The actions, strategies, goals, and objectives of the local committees are further managed by regional Board of Governors Safety Committees comprising BGCA staff members and other stakeholders.

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Additional Safety Resources

On the national level, BGCA provides access to a variety of additional resources to reinforce local policies and promote a culture of safety among all Club affiliates. This includes the National Child Safety Advisory Task Force.

The task force brings BGCA leadership and child safety experts together to advance safety initiatives and provide guidance to local Club leaders. All BGCA affiliates have access to an online tool that enables them to self-assess their own safety plans at any time.

Additional resources include the 200-page Keep Safe: The Club Safety Desk Reference manual. It offers tools and guidance for creating customized safety strategies in local Clubs.

BGCA also publishes a guide of safety awareness activities and maintains a 24-hour safety hotline. This enables Club staff members, volunteers, and youth to report concerns and/or receive confidential safety advice.

 

Boys and Girls Clubs’ Commitment to Vulnerable Youth

In its efforts to lead the way in child safety advocacy, BGCA places a special emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable youth populations. The organization’s work in this area includes several initiatives designed to give kids and teens in need a safe place to develop meaningful relationships while building the skills required to attain success.

One of these initiatives is Be There. It equips Clubs with the knowledge, skills, and resources to provide safe and supportive environments for grieving youth and their families.

Other BGCA initiatives are focused more specifically on inclusion. Through a combination of on-site and online training as well as ongoing coaching and counseling, the organization guides Club managers and staff members in providing a safe, positive, and inclusive environment for all children. This includes those living with physical, emotional, and developmental disabilities.

Additionally, BGCA works to ensure equity and inclusion for LGBTQ youth, who account for 16 percent of Club teens. The organization’s leadership considers its efforts in this area essential to its broader mission to give every child and teen access to an out-of-school environment where they can feel safe both physically and emotionally.

To learn more about BGCA’s commitment to youth safety, visit www.bgca.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.