When you’re a child living in poverty, you face a daunting set of challenges. You may be wondering where your next meal is coming from, wearing shoes that are two sizes too small because you can’t afford new ones, or wondering if anyone will notice that you haven’t taken a shower because you and your mom had to sleep in her car last night. There’s no way you have time to volunteer because you have to work a part-time job and pick up your little brother and sister afterwards. The only restaurants in your neighborhood are fast food, and you don’t like eating there, but you’re hungry and there isn’t even a grocery store within walking distance.
Trying to keep up with algebra and finish the Great Gatsby would be hard enough, even without all those other challenges, but the kids who visit the Clubs regularly deal with all of these problems and more as they fight for their chance at success. Our work isn’t just about helping our Club members balance equations – it’s about providing the stability and support that they need before they even take a stab at it. And the longer we wait, the harder it gets. Compared to their wealthier peers, by the time they reach 6th grade, kids born into poverty have likely already missed out 6,000 hours’ worth of experiences like pre-school, bedtime stories, family dinners and trips to museums that help them learn and grow, even when they’re not in school.
Boys & Girls Clubs are there to close the “opportunity gap” and help low-income kids keep pace with their wealthier peers by providing the enriching experiences, meaningful relationships, and consistency and reliability that they might otherwise be forced to go without. By providing a safe, accessible place where kids can find the support they need – whether it’s a warm meal, words of encouragement from a caring adult, or just a little extra help with those algebra equations – the Clubs help young people overcome the obstacles in their life and get inspired to build a better future for themselves.
To make sure we reach our goals, we start with the changes we want to see and work backwards from there, creating an “outcomes-driven” Club experience for our youth.