Inside the Boys & Girls Club of America: Empowering the Next Generation
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Inside the Boys & Girls Club of America: Empowering the Next Generation

The Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) was founded in 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut by three women, Elizabeth Hammersley, Mary Goodwin, and Alice Goodwin. Originally called the "Dashaway Club," it aimed to provide a positive alternative for boys who were roaming the streets.

In 1906, several boys' clubs came together to create the Federated Boys' Clubs in Boston. This organization later became the Boys' Clubs of America, and ultimately the Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) in 1990 when girls were officially allowed to become members.

Some key milestones in BGCA's history include:

  • In 1931, the organization began a national movement and established clubs across the country.
  • In 1956, Boys' Clubs of America hired their first full-time national Executive Director, John C. Dean, who expanded and professionalized the organization.
  • In 1970, the first national headquarters was established in New York City.
  • In 1990, the national organization became the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to officially include girls and better reflect the membership.

Over time, the BGCA's mission expanded beyond just providing a safe place for youth. Today, their mission is "to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens." They aim to empower youth to excel in school, become good leaders, and live healthy, fulfilling lives. The BGCA continues to evolve its programs and services to best meet the needs of today's young people.

Membership and Locations

The Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) serves over 4 million youth members annually through a network of over 4,600 clubhouse locations across the United States and on U.S. military bases worldwide. Membership is open to all youth ages 6-18, with site-based membership fees that vary by location. BGCA aims to be accessible and affordable for all families.

To become a member, parents or guardians must complete membership paperwork and pay applicable fees. Membership forms collect basic contact information, health history, emergency contacts, and liability waivers. Many clubs offer sliding scale fees, scholarships, and payment plans to accommodate families.

The flagship clubhouse location is the Atlanta Boys & Girls Club, founded in 1906. It spans over 100,000 square feet and includes an indoor/outdoor aquatic center, teen center, education complex, and more. Other notable BGCA facilities include:

  • Los Angeles - The John W. North Clubhouse is one of the largest in the country at over 73,000 square feet.
  • Chicago - The James R. Jordan Clubhouse is named after Michael Jordan's father and includes a full-size gym, teaching kitchen, and recording studio.
  • New York City - The Madison Square Clubhouse offers programs in partnership with community organizations like the New York Public Library.
  • Boston - The Edgerley Family South Boston Clubhouse has a rock climbing wall, boxing gym, and other specialized amenities.

With facilities tailored to local youth interests and partner organizations, the BGCA provides engaging and enriching spaces nationwide. Their clubhouses offer a home away from home.

Programs and Activities

The Boys & Girls Club offers a wide variety of programs and activities to support the development of youth ages 6-18. Programs are organized into five core categories:

Character and Leadership

The Boys & Girls Club aims to empower youth to become responsible, caring citizens and acquire skills to participate in the democratic process. Programs include service learning, Keystone Clubs teen leadership programs, and Youth of the Year recognition.

Education and Career

Academic success is a key priority. Programming includes Power Hour homework help, tutoring, college prep and career launch programs. Education programs help youth complete school, pursue postsecondary education and secure 21st-century careers.

Health and Wellness

With a focus on healthy lifestyles and making positive choices, the Boys & Girls Club offers fitness activities, health education, and programs to develop social-emotional skills. Initiatives like Smart Moves promote healthy life skills.

The Arts

Members can explore their creativity through diverse arts programs including visual arts, dance, theater, music, and digital arts like video production and graphic design. National programs like Youth Arts Month celebrate young artistic talent.

Sports and Recreation

Sports, fitness and recreation programs encourage physical activity and teach teamwork. Options include basketball, soccer, flag football, swimming and more. Core sports programs help develop fundamental skills.

The Boys & Girls Club tailors programs to local community needs with a strategy focused on youth development outcomes. Flagship programs like Project Learn STEM education activities help unlock kids' full potential.

Impact and Testimonials

The Boys & Girls Club of America serves over 4 million youth annually through membership and community outreach. The organization has made a tremendous impact on generations of young people by providing a safe, positive environment and life-changing programs.

Survey results show that the Boys & Girls Club plays a vital role in members' lives. In a 2019 survey, 95% of teen members said the Club saved their life. Members gain critical life skills, form meaningful relationships with mentors, and have access to resources to help them succeed.

Notable alumni of the Boys & Girls Club include athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, and leaders like Denzel Washington, Jennifer Lopez, and Shaquille O'Neal. Many credit the Club for providing opportunities that shaped their lives and careers. As Denzel Washington stated, "If it weren't for the Boys Club, I wouldn't be standing here today."

Youth share powerful stories about how the Club impacted them:

  • "The Club showed me I have a purpose in life. The staff supported me and told me not to give up." - Isabella, 15
  • "I was struggling in school before joining the Club. Now my grades are better because of the homework help and tutoring." - James, 12
  • "Playing sports at the Club taught me teamwork. I learned important lessons about hard work and discipline." - Michael, 17
  • "The Club is like my second home. I've made friends for life here." - Emily, 14
  • "When I'm at the Club, I know I'm in a safe place where people care about me." - Diego, 10

The Boys & Girls Club of America transforms communities by empowering youth to reach their full potential. Millions of lives have been changed for the better thanks to the Club's mentoring, guidance, and support. Its impact will continue providing hope and opportunity to generations to come.

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Partnerships and Collaborations

The Boys & Girls Club of America partners with many other organizations to expand their reach and impact. They have corporate sponsorships, nonprofit collaborations, and government partnerships at the local, state, and national levels.

Some of their major corporate partners include:

  • Target - Funds programs focused on education, arts, and healthy living. They also provide volunteers at Clubs.
  • Comcast NBCUniversal - Supports digital literacy and STEM programs. Provides production studios at Clubs.
  • PepsiCo - Funds health and wellness programs. Employees volunteer as mentors.
  • Delta Air Lines - Sponsors aviation programs and funds scholarships. Employees serve on Club boards.

The BGCA also collaborates with various nonprofit organizations on joint initiatives:

  • United Way - Partners to establish and support local Clubs across the country.
  • Junior Achievement - Joint programs to teach kids financial literacy and entrepreneurship.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada - Partnership to exchange program ideas and best practices.

At government levels, the BGCA works with agencies like:

  • Department of Education - Collaboration on summer learning loss prevention programs.
  • Department of Defense - Partnership provides Club access for military families.
  • AmeriCorps - Members serve at Clubs nationwide to mentor youth.

These partnerships allow the BGCA to expand its reach and provide quality programs to more youth across the country. By collaborating with other organizations, they can make an even greater impact.

Get Involved

There are many ways you can get involved and support the Boys & Girls Club of America. This nonprofit relies on community engagement to further its mission of empowering and inspiring youth.


Volunteering with your local Boys & Girls Club is a great way to make a direct impact. Volunteers serve as tutors, mentors, coaches, and role models for the kids. You can volunteer on a regular basis or help out at special events. No prior experience is necessary, as training is provided. Some opportunities include:

  • Tutoring or mentoring kids in academic subjects
  • Coaching a sports team or leading a fitness class
  • Teaching art, music, dance or other creative skills
  • Assisting with technology and computer labs
  • Helping with administrative tasks

boys & girls club of america volunteer


Monetary donations allow the Boys & Girls Club to continue offering life-changing programs and services. You can make a one-time or recurring donation through their website. The club also welcomes in-kind donations of goods, services or gift cards. Popular items to donate include:

  • Arts & crafts supplies
  • Sports equipment and uniforms
  • Non-perishable food items
  • New children's books and magazines
  • Gift cards for grocery stores, restaurants or department stores

Spread the Word

Raising awareness through social media is an easy way to support the Boys & Girls Club. Follow their accounts and share updates about their initiatives. Use hashtags like #GreatFutures in your posts. You can also organize an online fundraising campaign through Facebook or other platforms. Tag the Boys & Girls Club and encourage others to get involved.


The Boys & Girls Club of America offers rewarding career opportunities for those passionate about empowering youth and strengthening communities. With over 4,600 club locations across the country, the organization has a variety of positions available from entry-level to senior management roles.

Some of the key jobs and internships at BGCA include:

  • Club Directors - Responsible for overseeing operations at local club sites. Duties include staff supervision, program development, community outreach, fundraising, and more.
  • Program Directors - Develop, coordinate, and evaluate programs catered to youth in areas like education, arts, sports, health, and leadership.
  • Development Directors - Lead fundraising initiatives through grant writing, events, donor relationships, and campaigns.
  • Marketing/Communications - Promote the BGCA mission and club programs through social media, websites, newsletters, and community engagement.
  • Finance/HR - Manage budgets, accounts, payroll, benefits, hiring, training, and related administrative tasks.
  • Interns - Gain hands-on experience in areas like programming, development, marketing, and research. Open to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students.

The work culture at BGCA emphasizes collaboration, integrity, inclusiveness, and excellence. Employees enjoy a supportive environment where they can grow professionally while making a difference.

Some of the key benefits and perks include:

  • Competitive Salary - Wages commensurate with experience and qualifications.
  • Health Insurance - Medical, dental, and vision coverage options.
  • Retirement Savings - 401K plan with matching contributions.
  • Work-Life Balance - Paid time off and holidays.
  • Tuition Reimbursement - Financial assistance for continuing education.
  • Staff Discounts - Reduced rates for BGCA programs and activities.
  • Flexible Schedules - Arrangements conducive to work-life balance.

Working at BGCA allows employees to gain transferrable skills while positively impacting youth and communities. With a shared vision and meaningful work, the organization aims to be an employer of choice nationwide.


The Boys & Girls Club of America is led by a passionate and dedicated team of professionals who are committed to furthering the organization's mission of enabling young people to reach their full potential.

At the helm is Jim Clark, who serves as the President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Clark brings over 30 years of experience working with Boys & Girls Clubs at the local and national level. Prior to becoming CEO, he served as Senior Vice President of Field Services, overseeing club operations across the country.

The Board of Directors provides strategic oversight for the organization. The board is comprised of accomplished leaders from diverse professional backgrounds including business, academia, law enforcement, medicine, and more. Current board members include:

  • Susan DeVore - President & CEO, Premier health care alliance
  • Randy Erford - Professor of School Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Cal McCluskey - Senior VP of Fixed Income Sales, Morgan Stanley
  • Juanita Sanchez - CEO, National Council of La Raza

Together with over 1,100 local chapters, the national leadership ensures Boys & Girls Clubs across America have the guidance and resources to provide transformational opportunities for youth in their communities. They are dedicated to upholding the organization's mission in an ethical, transparent, and impactful manner.

The national staff is comprised of experienced professionals in areas such as youth development, marketing, philanthropy, and research. With diverse skills and expertise, they support local clubs through training, program development, partnerships, fundraising, and more.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America has a long-standing reputation as an ethical nonprofit organization with responsible financial oversight and transparency. The national leadership is committed to maintaining strong governance and accountability across all levels of the organization.


The Boys & Girls Club of America has an annual operating budget of over $1 billion. This funding comes from a variety of sources including corporate donors, foundation grants, individual contributions, and government funding.

The largest revenue source is donations from individuals, making up over 50% of the annual budget. Other major sources of funding are corporate donors and sponsors such as Target, Toyota, and Bank of America. The organization also receives grants from charitable foundations like the Walton Family Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Government grants make up around 15% of the budget. These grants come from federal, state, and local governments to support programs aimed at youth development, health and wellness, and academic enrichment.

The majority of spending goes towards program operations and providing services at local club sites. Around 70% of expenses are allocated to daily activities, staffing, supplies, equipment, and facilities costs. The other 30% goes towards organizational overhead like fundraising, marketing, IT, and administration.

The financial operations of the Boys & Girls Club are overseen by the national headquarters. Local clubs must report their budgets, expenses, and funding sources regularly to ensure alignment with the overall mission. The national organization provides guidance on accounting, auditing, insurance, and fiscal management to uphold financial responsibility across its network of over 4,000 club sites.

Proper money management and transparency helps the Boys & Girls Club direct as much funding as possible towards enriching the lives of the 4.6 million youth members they serve. The organization is committed to maintaining strong financial health to keep providing programs that empower communities and change lives.

The Future

The Boys & Girls Club of America has ambitious goals and a clear vision for the future as the organization continues empowering youth and providing opportunities to those who need it most.

Some of the key strategic priorities looking ahead include:

  • Expanding to open more Club locations across underserved communities in urban, suburban, and rural areas. The goal is to ensure every child has access to a Club within reasonable proximity. This expansion requires securing funding, partners, facilities, staff, and community buy-in.
  • Enhancing programs to align with emerging needs and priorities. This may involve updating technology, adding programs focused on mentoring, mental health, or social justice, and continuously evaluating outcomes.
  • Increasing accessibility and inclusion. The Club aims to break down barriers to participation by providing sliding-scale fees, transportation, targeted outreach, and culturally competent programming.
  • Developing leaders from within. The Club wants to strengthen career pathways to develop future nonprofit leaders, especially women and people of color. This means investing in professional development, mentorship, and leadership training.
  • Securing sustainable funding. As a nonprofit, funding is an ongoing challenge. The Club is focused on diversifying revenue through government grants, corporate sponsorships, major gifts, planned giving, and innovation around earned income opportunities.
  • Leveraging technology and digital platforms. From virtual Club experiences to data utilization, the Club recognizes the value of technology and seeks to be at the forefront of implementing tech for social impact.
  • Building partnerships. The Club will seek strategic alliances with aligned organizations to enhance programs, reach specific populations, share best practices, and achieve collective impact.

With over 150 years of experience and expertise empowering youth, the Boys & Girls Club remains well-positioned to adapt and innovate. By staying true to its mission while evolving to meet changing needs, the Boys & Girls Club of America can continue helping young people reach their full potential for decades to come.

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