boys and girls club

Here Are the Top Ways BGCA Is Promoting STEM-Based Learning

Attaining success in the modern world requires a new type of skill set that centers on technological literacy and the ability to think critically and collaborate effectively with teams in physical and digital environments. To help young people develop 21st-century skills, schools and youth-driven organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) are promoting a mastery of fundamental academic subjects, such as history and language arts, while emphasizing education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.

In 2014, BGCA hosted STEM Great Think, a national event that brought thought leaders from other nonprofit groups together with key influencers in education, government, and business to establish partnerships and programs for advancing STEM education in the out-of-school environment. Since then, Boys and Girls Clubs has continued to play a key role in inspiring youth, especially those from underserved backgrounds, to pursue an interest in STEM subjects both in and out of school. Read on for a look at what BGCA and its partners have been doing in the area of STEM education.

 

Closing the Opportunity Gap

All of BGCA’s efforts in STEM are focused on ensuring that every child, regardless of race, gender, or economic background, has the opportunity to attain success in an ever-changing world. Recently, the number of jobs in STEM fields has been growing nearly twice as fast as other disciplines. However, many young people are entering the workforce without the knowledge or skills needed to pursue a STEM career. The lack of skills and/or interest in STEM is especially prevalent among minority youth and young women, but kids and teens from low-income families are also affected.

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By offering after-school and summer educational programming to a large number of underrepresented youth, BGCA plays an important, and often unrecognized, role in closing the opportunity gap in STEM education. Past research has shown that the type of programs offered at Boys and Girls Clubs sparks young peoples’ interest in STEM fields and is particularly impactful for African-American, Asian-American, and Latino youth. According to BGCA’s 2017 National Outcomes Report, male and female 12th-grade Club members of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds are nearly twice as likely to show an interest in STEM fields as 12th graders who are not involved in their local Club.

 

Teaching Kids and Teens to Code

Boys and Girls Clubs across the country rely on corporate support to provide fun and educational STEM programs for their youth members. In 2017, BGCA and Lenovo launched a partnership to get Club members interested in coding and computer science. Through the partnership, 10 Clubs nationwide will expand their STEM programming to include app-building activities for kids and teens.

For its part, Lenovo, a leading technology provider, is offering PC equipment, computer programs, and volunteer support for “Hackathon” events at local Clubs. During the events, youth teams work with Lenovo employee volunteers to create working app prototypes. The teams then present their apps for a chance to win prizes.

The Hackathon partnership with BGCA is an extension of the long-standing relationship that Lenovo has had with local Clubs near its US global headquarters at North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. In addition to the Wake County Boys and Girls Club in Raleigh, Clubs in Georgia, Connecticut, California, and Florida are benefitting from the Lenovo-BGCA partnership.

 

Launching STEM Centers of Innovation

Across the country and in many locations overseas, BGCA serves youth in communities that have a strong military presence. The organization began partnering with the US military nearly three decades ago and now serves over 480,000 school-aged children of military families worldwide. To help BGCA provide high-quality STEM experiences for military youth, Raytheon Company has committed $5 million to create Stem Centers of Innovation at BGCA-affiliated military installations.

To date, Raytheon has created 14 Centers of Innovation as part of its five-year funding initiative. A full-time STEM expert is available to assist youth at all of the Centers, which offer fun STEM-based programming and exciting technologies such as 3-D printers and high-definition video equipment. Centers of Innovation have been opened in Germany and several US states, including Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, and Texas. Thanks to a recent $1 million donation from The Walt Disney Company, BGCA will be able to open 12 new additional STEM Centers of Innovation in communities throughout the nation.

 

Supporting 21st-Century Teaching and Learning

Over the past few years, BGCA has been working toward a goal of engaging at least half of all Club members in some type of STEM-based programming by 2020. Clubs across the country are facilitating these efforts by offering programs such as DIY STEM. Corporations such as Samsung and Time Warner Cable have supported the program, which teaches scientific principles through hands-on activities and learning modules.

BGCA also offers STEM experiences during the summer through its Summer Brain Gain learning loss prevention program. It includes project-based activities for Club youth in elementary through high school. BGCA’s other science-based programs include Tech Girls Rock, a national initiative that supports information technology workshops for tween and teen girls 10 to 18 years old.

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veterans

Here Are the Top Community Partners at Wounded Warrior Project

As one of the nation’s top veterans services organizations, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) oversees a range of life-changing programs for those who have served their country. The organization also supports family members and caregivers of veterans by assisting with Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense claims and providing opportunities for military families to connect with one another in their communities. In 2017 WWP invested $166 million into programs that promote wounded veterans’ physical and mental health, emotional well-being, and independence.

Although WWP already offers programs in a variety of areas, the organization is always looking for better and more efficient ways to improve the lives of those in the military community. WWP extends its reach by working with individual volunteers and corporate supporters as well as a network of community partners. This network includes nonprofit groups working to assist veterans and military families throughout the country. The following is a closer look at WWP’s top community partners:

 

America’s Warrior Partnership

americaswarriorpartnershipThe mission of America’s Warrior Partnership is to bring veteran-focused nonprofits together to improve various initiatives for military families. Rather than working directly with veterans, the solution-based organization provides support, tools, and resources to help communities nationwide serve local veteran populations.

America’s Warrior Partnership’s signature initiative is its Community Integration program, which provides affiliate communities with a customizable framework for service in eight areas, including health, housing, education, and employment. America’s Warrior Partnership also oversees an annual symposium that educates veteran-serving professionals about the latest service solutions available.

 

Military Child Education Coalition

militarychildeducationcoalitionBased in Texas, the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) works with individuals and organizations across the country to ensure military children have access to quality educational opportunities. MCEC focuses much of its work on helping military installations and surrounding school districts address the academic and social needs of children who move multiple times and must deal with family separation throughout the school year because of their parent’s or parents’ military service.

In addition to a number of programs and training events for educators and other school professionals, MCEC offers various resources for military-connected parents and students. Through its Parent to Parent program, the organization conducts workshops that empower military families to advocate for the needs of their children. MCEC also oversees Student 2 Student, a national program that helps ease transitions to and from schools for military children in grades K-12.

 

Team RWB

teamrwbIn its mission to enrich the lives of America’s military veterans, Team RWB oversees physical and social activities that help veterans connect with one another and their communities. Team RWB activities include athletic and exercise events, community service projects, and small social gatherings. In 2017 the organization held more than 47,000 events in cities across the country. Team RWB currently serves over 137,000 veteran members through 204 local chapters nationwide.

 

National Military Family Association

NMFAAs the name suggests, the National Military Family Association (NMFA) is focused on supporting the spouses, children, and other family members of those serving in the United States military. Since its founding in 1969, the organization has played a key role in advancing several initiatives benefiting military families. The group’s past successes include helping to pass the Survivor Benefit Plan and extend Supplemental Security Income benefits to military families stationed overseas.

More recently, NMFA established a scholarship program for military spouses and launched its Operation Purple youth camps and family retreats to help families reconnect and take a break from the stresses of military life. The organization also provides information and resources on a variety of topics.

 

Team Rubicon

teamrubiconTeam Rubicon leverages the skills and experiences of military veterans to support emergency response efforts around the globe. The volunteer-led organization comprises 65,000 registered members who work alongside first responders and medical professionals in areas affected by natural disasters. Although veterans are not the focus of Team Rubicon’s mission, the organization provides a purpose, community, and identity to help individuals transition from life in the military.

Since 2010, Team Rubicon members have provided nearly $11 million in volunteer labor. Volunteers assist with disaster cleanup, incident management, damage assessment, hazard mitigation, and community rebuilding. The Team has responded to numerous natural disasters across the United States, including Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. Team Rubicon has also completed operations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.

 

The Mission Continues

themissioncontinuesLike Team Rubicon, The Mission Continues provides military veterans with the opportunity to continue to serve after their time in the armed forces ends. Volunteers with the organization work alongside other nonprofit groups to address issues facing their communities. The Mission Continues also deploys teams of volunteers to support cleanups, building renovations, and other community revitalization projects.

Along with holding local weekly, monthly, and quarterly events, volunteers with The Mission Continues take part in weeklong mass deployment projects in underserved cities nationwide. The organization also oversees a fellowship program for post-9/11 veterans and reservists who are interested in volunteering six months of their time in exchange for a living stipend and assistance with leadership and professional development.

This Is What Happened during 2018 Boys and Girls Club Week

boysandgirlsclubEach year, the youth, staff, volunteers, and supporters of Boys and Girls Clubs of America celebrate the organization during Boys and Girls Club Week. First held more than 75 years ago, the annual event now highlights the work of the over 61,000 adults who serve Club youth in US cities and at military installations overseas. This year’s Boys and Girls Club Week ran the week of April 9, with local Clubs and community partners participating in an effort to show why Boys and Girls Clubs are a place for youth to become the best versions of themselves.

Here’s a closer look at what happened across the country in celebration of Boys and Girls Club Week 2018:

Celebrating Community through Service Projects and Fun Activities

boys and girls club

Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the United States rely on community support to provide a safe place for youth to learn, grow, and have fun. Boys and Girls Club Week provides a perfect opportunity for Clubs to open their doors to the public for fun activities that celebrate community while highlighting the importance of local youth programming. Many Clubs took advantage of this opportunity in 2018 by holding talent shows, sports competitions, family game nights, art shows, and Club open-house events. Others celebrated the week by bringing Club youth and their families together for community service projects.

In Glasgow, Kentucky, members of the Boys and Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County handed out basic needs kits to residents of a local low-income housing community. Youth from the Boys and Girls Club of Western Nevada Carson Valley created care packages for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and Club members in Shreveport, Louisiana, spent a day beautifying a local public park. Other organizations that gave back during Boys and Girls Club week included the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of High Point in North Carolina, which hosted a cookie and punch party for senior citizens.

The Blue Door Decorating Contest

For the last several years, the Blue Door Decorating Contest has been a major component of Boys and Girls Club Week. The Lowe’s-sponsored contest gives youth the opportunity to show off their artistic skills and love for Boys and Girls Clubs by decorating a door at their local Club. Those who participate compete for a chance to win cash prizes.

In 2018 Boys and Girls Clubs narrowed a field of 646 competing organizations down to six regional finalists. The contest wrapped up on April 12 after online public voting selected Boys Club of Cicero in Illinois as the grand prize winner. The Club’s “Dream Free” design earned the organization a $20,000 grant courtesy of Lowe’s. Lowe’s also awarded the second-place Club a $7,500 grant and the remaining finalists $2,500 each.

Recognizing Outstanding Youth Development Professionals     

In addition to the Blue Door Decorating Contest, Boys and Girls Club of America holds its Youth Development Professional of the Year contest in conjunction with Boys and Girls Club Week. The national contest recognizes the work of caring adults who mentor kids and teens at 4,300 Clubs nationwide.

Of the estimated 100 Club leaders nominated for the 2018 award, Boys and Girls Clubs selected five finalists representing Colorado, North Carolina, California, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. This year’s winner, Raytrell Caldwell of North Carolina, took home $10,000 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wayne/Johnston Counties, where he serves as the teen program director. He also won a trip to New York City to see BCGA National Spokesperson Denzel Washington in Broadway’s The Iceman Cometh.

Welcoming New Club Facilities

Several Clubs across the country used Boys and Girls Club Week to celebrate the opening of new facilities. Club youth in Santa Cruz, California, got their first look at the refurbished Joe and Linda Aliberti Clubhouse in Scotts Valley. In addition to a lab with 12 desktop computers, the 3,000-square-foot facility features a new basketball court, a game room, and an art room. Club leaders are also installing a garden on the grounds.

In Maryland, Boys and Girls Club of Westminster opened doors on a new 20,000-square-foot facility that will eventually serve 600 local children and teens each day. The renovated building, located in downtown Westminster, was completed as part of a one-year, $5 million fundraising campaign. The space includes a library, book nooks, and a music and dance studio alongside two lounges filled with new furniture, games, and study areas. Eventually, the property will also feature a brand new gymnasium.

Along with those that opened new facilities during Boys and Girls Club Week, other Clubs announced the launch of new development projects. In Texas, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Austin Area unveiled details for a 10-acre East Austin campus that will provide programming for 1,000 area youth. Highlights of the planned 32,000-square-foot campus include art studios, a library, and a STEM learning center, as well as indoor and outdoor athletic facilities.

Top 4 Ways Goodwill Is Promoting Better Education Nationwide

Thanks to its various social services programs, the reach of Goodwill Industries extends far beyond its thrift stores. The organization uses the money it generates from sales of donated items to help people improve their lives and become valuable members of their communities.

With much of its focus on ensuring that individuals are positioned for future success, Goodwill has had education as one of its programming priorities since it first launched well over a century ago. Today, the nonprofit group remains focused on providing valuable learning opportunities for people of all ages.

Here are some of the top ways that Goodwill promotes education in the hundreds of communities it serves throughout the United States:

 

  1. Providing Free Learning Opportunities

One of Goodwill’s most accessible learning programs is offered at GCFLearnFree.org, a free educational website launched by the Goodwill Community Foundation and Goodwill Industries of Eastern NC Inc. On the site, visitors can access a library of more than 2,000 lessons covering over 180 topics in areas such as technology, literacy, and math. To enhance each lesson, the site also features over 800 educational videos and 55 interactive games and activities.

Some of the academic topics covered at GCFLearnFree include basic addition and subtraction, English grammar, algebra, and reading. Much of the site, however, is focused on helping people build 21st-century skills. The subjects taught in this area range from computer basics and email to digital photography, cloud computing, and graphic design. In addition, GCFLearnFree includes a number of tutorials on Microsoft Office programs.

Along with the tech tutorials and lessons in reading and math, the site provides resources for career support and everyday living. The tutorials and interactive lessons in these areas focus on career planning, job search, and money management. Lessons on work skills, food and cooking, and health and safety are also available.

 

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  1. Educating Adults Who Are Pursuing Their High School Diplomas

While recent statistics show a reduction in high school dropout rates nationwide, approximately 30 million American adults are still without diplomas, and another 3 million people drop out each year. Goodwill organizations throughout the country are doing their part to help these individuals finish their high school education by providing various programs and resources in local communities.

Many Goodwill locations oversee adult learning centers or provide no-cost adult education classes that prepare adult learners for the GED exam. In Indiana, which has one of the highest dropout rates in the country, Goodwill Industries, Inc., launched The Excel Center, a tuition-free public high school for adults. With drop-in childcare, supportive staff, and flexible scheduling that includes both day and night classes, The Excel Center is designed specifically for adults working to earn their diplomas while keeping up with work and family responsibilities.

The success of the original Center site in Indianapolis led Goodwill to open additional locations in Indiana along with other sites in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Washington, DC. In the Indiana location’s first decade, more than 3,000 adults earned their high school diplomas through The Goodwill Excel Center. Nearly all (97 percent) of the Center’s graduates also went on to earn college credits or job-related certifications.

 

  1. 3. Ensuring Young People Have the Knowledge and Skills to Succeed

In addition to assisting adult learners, Goodwill organizations nationwide work with various community partners to promote youth education. Examples include Goodwill Industries of Denver, which works with several area schools to educate and prepare at-risk students for their future careers. The organization’s youth programs provide education and training in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects. Goodwill of Denver also provides mentoring to help students prepare for and succeed in college.

Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Michigan (SEMI) is another organization that is dedicated to helping local youth. Over the years, SEMI has partnered with businesses and other nonprofits to support community literacy projects. In 2017, the organization distributed more than 7.5 tons of children’s books throughout the community. SEMI also helps lead the Read to Feed program, which provides books for area schools that collect food for local food pantries.

 

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  1. Leading the Way in Career-Related Education

As part of its efforts to help people overcome barriers to employment, Goodwill Industries directs a large percentage of its resources toward career-related education. At the Goodwill Career and Technical Academy in Austin, Texas, individuals can pursue career certifications in numerous industries, including health care, technology, and business. The Academy also offers accelerated certification programs in skilled construction trades.

Alongside local work-related programs, Goodwill oversees several national initiatives to educate American workers. Many of Goodwill’s activities in recent years have focused on equipping people with the digital skills needed in the modern workforce.

In 2017, the organization launched the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator, a Google-funded initiative that will ultimately help over 1 million people learn computer support, programming, and other tech-related skills. Goodwill is also partnering with Google and Coursera to help prepare people age 17 and older for careers in IT support.