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National Youth of the Year finalists in Washington, D.C. IN THIS ISSUE Five Ways to Partner with Local Police A New Plan to Reach Military-Connected Youth Connecting Teens with Career Opportunities WWW.BGCA.ORG/CONNECTIONS


WINTER 2016 PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA & FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA Honorary Chairpersons RONALD J. GIDWITZ Chairman Emeritus JACK STAHL Chairman of the Board JAMES L. CLARK President and CEO

connections vol . 36 , no. 3

KELLY GAINES Editor in Chief JOHN COLLINS Managing Editor MICHELLE M cQUISTON Associate Editor BGCA CREATIVE SERVICES Design and Layout

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE On December 31, my two-year term as Chairman of the Board of Governors for Boys & Girls Clubs of America will come to its conclusion. It has been a privilege to work with fellow board members, national staff, and local Club professionals and volunteers to help ensure every kid in America has an opportunity to realize the many advantages offered by the Club Experience. Under the guidance of President and CEO Jim Clark, we’ve made continuous progress to advance the Movement these past two years. Among our accomplishments is the reimagining of the Youth of the Year program – both as a special event and with the expansion of its curriculum to reach Club kids of every age. Another was the successful launch of Alumni & Friends, the network of Club alums, advocates and donors that serves as a valuable support system for young alumni transitioning to life beyond the Club. And, again under Jim’s leadership, we have charted a path towards 2025. Helping to lead us on that path will be my good friend, Chairman-Elect Myron Gray. A great and longtime supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs, Myron has very effectively served on the Board of Governors and as Southeast Region Chair since 2011. He also sits on the boards of the Atlanta Police Foundation, the National Urban League and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He is the president of U.S. operations for UPS, where he began his career in 1978 as a part-time package handler while attending college. Myron is also a big fan and proponent of UPS Road Code, the national safe driving program for teens based largely on safety training used with UPS drivers. A partnership of The UPS Foundation and BGCA, the program is taught by about 150 UPS employees. Since 2009, UPS Road Code has provided more than 25,000 Club teens with invaluable safe driving techniques. Congratulations, Myron! Thank you all for the opportunity to serve as your Chairman!

Connections is published by Boys & Girls Clubs of America. It is distributed without charge to member Clubs of Boys & Girls Clubs of America as a service of their memberships. Articles or article ideas should be submitted to the Editor, Connections, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, 1275 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30309. Use or return of material cannot be guaranteed and no remuneration can be made. Opinions expressed by contributing authors do not necessarily reflect policies of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Copyright ©2016 by Boys & Girls Clubs of America. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Job No. 3068-16 1SSN:0272-6513


BGCA Board of Governors

2 Finding Their Way The Club Experience puts Youth of the Year on the road to success

6 News and Notes Happenings from around the Movement

8 Youth of the Year Expands New program suite gives all kids the chance to lead Page 2

12 Kids Create Launch into 2017 with a focus on the arts

14 Operation: 250K A plan to connect military youth living off-installation with Club services



COLUMNS 10 President’s Report BGCA President and CEO Jim Clark

16 Serving Teens Workforce program connects teens to career success Page 6

18 Child and Club Safety Five ways to partner with local police

20 View from the Potomac Clubs take a bite out of hunger

ON THE COVER From left: National Youth of the Year finalists Melanie, Abria, Alexia, Raliyah, Jocelyn and Arianna strike a business-casual pose in Washington, D.C.

Page 8 Yo u c a n a l s o f i n d C o n n e c t i o n s o n l i n e a t

W W W. B G C A . O R G / C O N N E C T I O N S



When Jocelyn W. walked into a Boys & Girls Club for the first time at 5 years old, she had no way of knowing she was going to find a home. But that’s what happened, and the caring, positive relationships she found at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley in San Jose, Calif., helped give her the drive and confidence to become Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 2016-17 National Youth of the Year.


Youth of the Year

“Growing up I didn’t always have a stable background,” Jocelyn said. “But all of the Club staff and mentors have always been there for me when I didn’t have family members to do the same.” That encouragement pushed her to excel. When she no longer felt challenged in school, she applied to a private school, where she was awarded a scholarship. She used coding skills learned at her Club to secure internships, and even coded her own photo sharing app. She has also dedicated herself to helping teens who are struggling with the same issues she faced growing up, going so far as to spend a week in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco to better understand homelessness. Ultimately, she founded the Under-represented Teen Advocacy Program, a nonprofit group that connects Bay-area teens in need with available services.

Abria F.

Midwest Youth of the Year

Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holland • Holland, Mich.

“And in the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”

Jocelyn is currently studying journalism at the University of Southern California and plans to become a journalist, lawyer and entrepreneur. Jocelyn will serve as our official teen spokesperson for the next year. She will also receive $145,000 in academic scholarships, a new car from Toyota and a trip to Disney World. Thanks to Youth of the Year sponsors Disney, Toyota, University of Phoenix and Taco Bell Foundation, Youth of the Year will award more than $1 million in scholarships to Club teens this year. As part of the Youth of the Year program, Jocelyn and her five co-finalists spent the week leading up to the National Youth of the Year Celebration in Washington, D.C., where they toured historic monuments, participated in an all-day photoshoot, visited the Newseum and met with members of Congress. In addition, they will meet with the president in the Oval Office at a later date. Misty Copeland, principal dancer at American Ballet Theater and a Club alum, offered high praise for all the finalists during the ceremony at the National Building Museum. “These six youth represent the values and endurance of the American spirit,” Copeland said. “They have all overcome unfortunate setbacks, but have never let those setbacks define them. They believe that education and hard work are the keys to success and opportunity while still wanting to change the world through volunteerism and good deeds.” Read on to learn more about this year’s extraordinary finalists.

Just four years ago, Abria moved from her home in Detroit to the small city of Holland, Michigan. She was nervous to start her life over in a new place where she didn’t know a soul, and she struggled with the pressures of social acceptance and low self-esteem. Once she joined her local Boys & Girls Club, Abria found her home in Holland. She was instantly welcomed into the Club’s tight-knit community and supportive environment. She learned to accept herself – flaws and all. She realized that no one is perfect and took to heart the words shared by one of her Club mentors: “Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to others. Beauty is found within you. It all starts with how you see yourself.” The Club helped Abria transform into the leader that she is today. She is now on her high school varsity cheer team, volunteers regularly in her community and has achieved honor roll every semester of high school. Abria hopes to attend the University of Michigan after graduating high school, and she aspires to become a pediatrician.

For more information, please visit

Yo u t h o f t h eYe a r. o r g


Alexia L.

Raliyah D.

Boys & Girls Club of Vineland • Vineland, N.J.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Indian River County • Vero Beach, Fla.

Northeast Youth of the Year

“I no longer walk in shame, but I stride in dignity. My Club enlightened me to the fact that there are no bounds to my strength, and that I can create my own phenomenal path. I am now a passionate humanitarian and powerful leader.”

Southeast Youth of the Year

“Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise.”

From a young age, Raliyah faced a variety of circumstances that affected her home life and forced her to grow up more quickly than her peers. With help from her Boys & Girls Club, Raliyah was able to turn these challenges into opportunities to grow and become more independent.

Alexia was always shy growing up. When she first set foot in her Boys & Girls Club, she recognized an environment where she could open up and find her voice. With her confidence bolstered, Alexia discovered the leadership potential within, and the power of her actions and influence. Alexia is devoted to empowering others in her community. She recently led a project called “Bags for Beauties” to collect hygiene items for the homeless. She is president of her Club’s Keystone Club and captain of her high school dance team. She has even taken on gun safety and violence awareness by presenting to her county government. After discovering the power found in self-confidence, Alexia started a self-esteem program called “You Can Too” for middleschool-aged Club members. She finds joy in helping younger teens and kids follow in her footsteps. Alexia is a freshman at Hampton University, and one day hopes to become Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.



Youth of the Year

Raliyah is a natural leader with an infectiously positive attitude and an enthusiasm to lend a helping hand wherever it is needed. As president of her Club’s Keystone Club, Raliyah volunteers regularly in the Vero Beach community. She is also involved in her school as president of the Health Occupation Students of America program and a member of her school basketball team. Over time, and with Club support, Raliyah’s personal struggles have transformed into her greatest motivations. She now sees her storied past as one of her biggest strengths. She uses her experiences as an opportunity to mentor and encourage youth facing similar challenges. Raliyah plans to become a nurse practitioner and is attending Florida Gulf Coast University.

Melanie W.

Arianna S.

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area • Austin,Texas

Fort Dix Youth Programs • Fort Dix, N.J.

Southwest Youth of the Year

“Some things are hard, but nothing is impossible.”

Before Melanie started high school, she had no idea where her path would lead. Joining her local Boys & Girls Club brought Melanie into a supportive environment that encouraged her to plan for the future and instilled in her the belief that she could achieve anything with hard work. Not only did her Club inspire Melanie to dream big, it also equipped her with the skills and tools needed to accomplish her new goals, one of which is to become a doctor. The Club helped Melanie become a well-rounded young woman who excels beyond her academic achievements. She serves as captain of her high school drill team and secretary of service for her Boys & Girls Club’s Keystone Club. She also regularly volunteers in her community. Melanie was recently accepted into the biochemistry program at the University of Texas and received three scholarships prior to becoming the Southwest Youth of the Year. In the future, she hopes to open a medical practice that is affordable for lowincome households.

National Military Youth of the Year

“ My Club taught me that a little bit of fear is not a sign of weakness! It is a tool that can be used to help me not to become too comfortable with my life as a military teen. I am not afraid to give 100 percent as the ambassador for our military youth.”

Arianna has moved every four years to a new military installation. Whether living in Germany or Japan, Arianna found a home at a BGCA-affiliated Youth Center. When she learned she was moving back to the United States, she was nervous about starting over again. As soon as she walked into the Club, Arianna felt relief wash over her. She was greeted by warm, welcoming faces, and even a familiar one. The Club’s CEO had been stationed in Tokyo at the same time as Arianna’s family, and he had known her since she was a little girl. For military youth, change is a constant. Yet with Clubs located on U.S. military installations worldwide, these kids and teens are able to form important relationships and, like in Arianna’s case, even have the chance to reconnect with old friends. Her Club involvement has shaped her into a well-rounded young adult with strong leadership skills. She participates in programs like CareerLaunch, Money Matters, diplomas2Degrees and serves on the Air Force Teen Council. Arianna plans to attend the Air Force Academy after she graduates from high school in 2019. She intends to become a fighter pilot or intelligence officer. For more information, please visit

Yo u t h o f t h eYe a r. o r g


6 WINTER 2016

50 for 50

Thanks to Renovation Across the Nation, thousands of kids returned to revamped Clubhouses this fall. The $2.5 million initiative between Lowe’s and BGCA provided 50 Clubs – one in every state! – needing major repairs and improvements with grants of $50,000 each. With an assist from Lowe’s Heroes – a volunteer force of over 1,000 employees – folks pitched in at each Club to make the upgrades, which included kitchen repairs, new music studios and counseling space. Commemorating the updates at each Club is a mural designed by Debora C., 16, whose work was named “Best in Show” of the BGCA 2016 National Fine Arts Exhibit. (See her winning work “My Club empowered my passion for art. on page 12.) The Boys & Girls Club I wanted to bring the values, growth and of Central Florida member painted the opportunities that come with being a Club original mural (right) at the Boys & Girls member to life through my design.” Club of Harlem in New York City. Each Club then stenciled and customized Debora C. a reproduction of the design at their facility, with Club members and Lowe’s Heroes providing finishing touches by hand-painting the mural.

Reach for $KY!

How do you make budgeting and saving appealing to teens? One way is to make it fun. Enter $ky, a web-based game from BGCA and Charles Schwab Foundation that promotes fiscal responsibility by showing players how every financial decision they make impacts their future. Players create an avatar, select future goals (Trade school or college? Family?) and present-day goals (saving, part-time work, hobbies). They then answer relevant questions to earn badges and work toward their goals. As in life, players have only so much time to accomplish their goals. Check it out today at


See more pix and posts on Whitney’s blog at

Before wrapping up her one-year tenure as National Youth of the Year, Whitney Stewart had one last “duty” to fulfill. In recognition of her work representing the nearly 4 million youth served by Clubs, she attended the Rio Olympics as part of My.Future, the BGCA STEM-learning platform supported by Comcast NBCUniversal. Whitney’s incredible behind-the-scenes visit included hanging out with NBC Olympics Host Bob Costas, touring NBC’s daytime set with Mike Tirico, meeting Matt Lauer

and Hoda Kotb of “The Today Show,” chilling with Ryan Seacrest and lots more. When not behind the camera, Whitney witnessed several once-in-a-lifetime moments, including Michael Phelps winning his 28th and final Olympic medal, Usain Bolt winning the 100-meter sprint, and Simone Biles competing in the balance beam final. Perhaps even better were the opportunities Whitney had to congratulate these and several more Olympians in person.

Former Packer Gives Back in Green Bay

During his playing days with the Green Bay Packers, Jermichael Finley was an avid supporter of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Deep East Texas alum loved giving back to the community and its children. Finley, 29, retired in 2015 but still has a home in Green Bay … still loves supporting the Club, too. During football season, he records “The JMike Show,” a podcast about Packers football, at the Club’s recording studio. “Kids in our Digital Audio Arts program record the show,” said Club Director Ben Perkovich. “They learn about interviewing, audio engineering, and how a podcast is created.” What a great way to introduce youth to a possible career! High-5 for JMike!

Club Alum Makes History

On Nov. 8, National Youth of the Year Stacey Walker made history as the first African-American to be elected to the Linn County Board of Supervisors in Iowa. “Linn County was organized 177 years ago,” Walker, 28, told a local newspaper. “This is the first time young AfricanAmerican kids … will be able to see an image of themselves reflected on their county board of government.”

Learn more about Stacey at CONNECTIONS 7

THE NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS NEW YOUTH OF THE YEAR PROGRAM SUITE GIVES ALL CLUB KIDS THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEAD By Michelle McQuiston Jocelyn W. joined the Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley in San Jose, Calif. when she was just 5 years old. All around her, drugs, crime and gangs were rampant – and Jocelyn struggled with school. For the next 13 years, her Club provided her with the security, encouragement and academic assistance to become a successful young leader in her community. This September, Jocelyn’s Boys & Girls Club journey culminated in her selection as Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 2016-17 National Youth of the Year. (See the cover story on page 2.) Now, all Club youth, ages 6-18, across the nation and on U.S. military installations around the world, can benefit from the Youth of the Year experience. Thanks to generous support from our partners The Walt Disney Company, Toyota, University of Phoenix and the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, BGCA has released the all-new Youth of the Year Leadership Development Suite comprised of: • Youth of the Month – Developed in Clubs, now offered as a structured program to introduce basic leadership concepts and recognize Club members of all ages • Junior Youth of the Year – Fosters leadership potential in youth ages 10-13 • Youth of the Year Leadership Development – Cultivates leadership ability in youth ages 14-18 and prepares them for the National Youth of the Year application process

NATIONAL APPEAL The Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield in Missouri has already been running a Junior Youth of the Year program, designed by Unit Director Brandy Harris of the organization’s Sertoma Club. 8 WINTER 2016

Harris also served on the steering committee, a group of Club representatives who provided input to the design of the national programs. So, she was excited to pilot test them in her Club, an elementary school site that serves youth in kindergarten through fifth grade. At the Springfield Clubs, Junior Youth of the Year candidates from each unit attend the organization-wide Youth of the Year event. The Junior Youth of the Year shadows the Youth of the Year. Often, said Harris, the two will work hand-in-hand on the Youth of the Year’s platform, providing the junior candidate with opportunities to be an ambassador for the Club. To know that Junior Youth of the Year is now a national program, run by other Clubs around the Movement, dramatically increases the excitement level for members, said Harris. Like other new programs, it also attracts kids who may not see themselves as candidates for Junior Youth of the Year, but will take part in the fun leadership development activities the program provides. “I think we’re creating lifelong leaders, rather than just pulling out the kids who are already showing promise,” said Harris. Even with members who don’t initially see themselves as leaders, explained Harris, “We’re creating these civically engaged citizens. This is going to be so impactful in our Clubs.”

Club kids of all ages can now benefit from our premier leadership program.

LEADERS FOR THE FUTURE The national Youth of the Year programs are built on essential leadership principles. The goal is to empower members to develop a personal philosophy of leadership, and identify experiences, relationships and resources they will need to achieve their own academic, life and career goals. All three programs are designed to foster six key outcomes in participants: character/ personal brand, communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and personal goal setting. The approach works, said Director Matthew Heady of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area’s Regence Club in Oregon. “Recognition is the one of the Five Key Elements that you always feel like you’re doing,” he said. “But now we can point to the recognition certificates on the wall, and we can tell kids what they’re being recognized for.” The program framework creates a consistent philosophy of what leadership development looks like across the Movement, said Heady. Equipped with a list of behaviors to look for, staff find it easier to recognize members, even those who don’t always do so well, because they can identify specific behaviors or actions that demonstrate one or more of the leadership outcomes. Club members are more aware that Youth of the Month, for example, is something each of them can strive for and achieve. For pre-teen Club members, participating in Youth of the Month and Junior Youth of the Year has shown them that they can be leaders among their peers; that the opportunity to lead is not limited to teens. One group of kids – members who

were unlikely to see themselves in a leadership group like Torch Club, said Heady – were so inspired by the Youth of the Month activities that they created a Club beautification group. “With a lot of what we do, it can take years to see those social and emotional benefits,” said Heady. “With these programs, we have tangible outcomes that we’re seeing right away.” Likewise, the Youth of the Year Leadership Development program means that teens who don’t want to apply for National Youth of the Year can still benefit from leadership development opportunities. For those who do want to go on to compete, the preparation activities help them feel confident that they can write an essay and give a speech about complex subjects like personal brand. (The activities are also useful for staff members who may be encountering the concept for the first time.) Because the Teen Leadership Journal can be provided to participants electronically, said Heady, teens can prepare even when they’re not in the Club – which is important, because the teens applying for Youth of the Year are likely to have busy schedules. Above all, said Heady, “The new programs open up opportunities – which we are in the business of – to all youth in our Clubs.” Michelle McQuiston is director, editorial services for BGCA.

The Youth of the Year Leadership Development Suite and accompanying Program Resource Guide are available on CONNECTIONS 9

columns President’s Report



hanks to the hard work and dedication of you, our professionals and board volunteers, it’s been a tremendous year for the Boys & Girls Club Movement, filled with achievements and action in support of young Americans. With that in mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to take a look back at 2016 and highlight some of our many accomplishments of the past 12 months. And with this being our Youth of the Year edition, where better to start than with our legacy character and leadership program? As you know, Jocelyn W. was named the 2016-17 National Youth of the Year on Sept. 27 in Washington, D.C. Somehow, the annual celebration gets better and better each year. The moment when ballet superstar and Club alum Misty Copeland announced Jocelyn’s victory was electric. My deepest thanks to Jocelyn and co-finalists Alexia, Raliyah, Abria, Arianna and Melanie for representing Boys & Girls Clubs with such remarkable poise and grace. (Read about each of these outstanding young women starting on page 2.) Almost as exciting was the recent launch of our new Youth of the Year Leadership Development Suite. Now, Club kids of all ages can benefit from program opportunities that stress selfawareness, decision making and basic leadership principles. The suite offers three levels of leadership engagement – Youth of the Month, Junior Youth of the Year, and Leadership Development – to encourage personal development among Club members and help them identify their callings and values. (Learn more beginning on page 6.) The Youth of the Year program expansion also gives us added ability to reach more teens. That’s exciting, especially coming during the Year of the Teen initiative to retain and recruit more teen Club members. 2016 is just the beginning of this critical 10 CONNECTIONS


President’s Report

effort – we will remain laser-focused on reaching more teens in the coming years. It’s so important to get adolescents, who are at a place in their development where they need solid guidance in making good choices, into Clubs. The teen years are critical tipping points for young people, and often determine the path they will take in their lives. At Boys & Girls Clubs, we are committed to providing America’s teens with every opportunity to achieve a great future.

THOSE WHO NEED US MOST We also made significant strides in 2016 among unique Club populations. To increase support for military-connected youth, we launched the Better Together public-private partnership to reach the 75 percent of military youth in the United States living off-installation and provide them with a Boys & Girls Club Experience. Through Better Together, we will strive to bring these vital services to 250,000 more military-connected youth through Clubs in civilian communities within the next five years. (See page 8 for more on Better Together.) In July, BGCA and the Department of Health and Human Services hosted another in our Great Think series, this one focused on Indian Country. Over 100 experts from government agencies, corporations and non-government organizations gathered in Washington, D.C., to address the challenges faced by youth in Indian Country, and identify solutions to provide them with the necessary resources to achieve successful futures. Recommendations included building awareness of services available to youth on Native lands through Clubs and similar groups, and exploring public-private collaborations to speak to issues impacting Native youth. We’ll follow up on these and other recommendations at our 2017 Native Services Summit,

President’s Report

which coincides with the 25th anniversary of BGCA’s service to Indian Country, making us the largest provider of services to Native youth.

GREAT FUTURES 2025 Much of our work over the past year has been focused on the future, specifically the strategic direction we call Great Futures 2025. Across the Movement, through town hall meetings and feedback sessions at regional conferences and Area Council meetings, the priorities and direction have been affirmed. We are now in the plan-building stage and once again securing feedback and direction through another round of Area Council town hall meetings and at conferences. The planning commission will meet in the new year to put the finishing touches on the plan, and then it will be presented at the National Conference in Dallas this May. Research tells us that improving the Club Experience Movementwide is key to enabling youth to achieve these priority outcomes. For that reason, strengthening the Club Experience is the foundation for the Great Futures 2025 direction. Based on fundamental youth development principles, the high-quality Club Experience is fun and safe, provides guidance by a caring adult, sets high expectations, creates new opportunities, and recognizes success. And when we talk about a high-quality Club Experience, we mean members who report “Doing Great” on the annual National Youth Outcomes Initiative survey, which was designed by youth development and survey experts, and tested with Club members. To achieve an optimal score, a member must report that the Club is “Doing Great” in at least three of the seven components of the Club Experience, and not report a bad experience in any of them. The Great Futures 2025 direction has one overarching, ambitious goal – to double the number of youth who report they have an optimal Club Experience. Currently, the number


is 37 percent. Our goal is to achieve 75 percent. It will be a big lift but an important one that needs to become a benchmark for how we as a Movement are achieving our mission. It won’t be our only measure of success, but it will be a major one. Great Futures 2025 is built around a couple of big ideas: improving quality and building stronger organizations. Specifically, the plan has four strategic priorities: PRIORITY 1: Strengthen Every Organization – Recognize that driving impact and quality requires a strong organization. Keys to success include building stronger executives and board members, growing fundraising capacity, strengthening community partnerships, and refining efficiency through continued consolidations, resource-sharing and combining back-office functions. PRIORITY 2: Increase Program Quality – This will involve defining quality standards, instituting an assessment process stressing accountability and results, and providing Club professionals and volunteers with world-class training to help them best serve youth. PRIORITY 3: Build Advocacy – Position Clubs as America’s premier youth development thought leader and advocate for young people. PRIORITY 4: Smart Growth – Once program quality and Club leadership are successfully addressed, we will be positioned to expand and pursue the vision of every American child having access to the Club Experience. Great Futures 2025 will be big, bold and aggressive and represents the most challenging vision our Movement has ever had. Thank you for all of the feedback and input we’ve received. Your thoughts and direct comments shaped the direction and built the key drivers of the plan. The needs of kids in America require us to take bold steps and think differently. Some of this change will be hard. But we have a mission that requires it and a Movement that is committed to create great futures for youth. For more information, please visit


KIDS CREATE! Launch into 2017 with a focus on the arts!

By Valerie Heron-Duranti


oys & Girls Clubs of America believes strongly in the power of the arts to promote learning, self-development and inspire creativity in youth. There are three legacy national arts programs for local Clubs to engage young artists: National Fine Arts Exhibit, ImageMakers National Photography Program, and Digital Arts Festivals. In 2015, some 210,000 young artists from 1,515 Clubs worldwide submitted artwork.


Artwork is judged in four age categories by professional artists in each art form at local, regional and national levels. The artwork on these pages were selected as “Judges Choices” – each judge selected a piece to recognize. All three contests are now open for submissions, which are due by Jan. 30, 2017. For more information on how to participate in the contests, visit Arts.BGCA. net/Register. To see all the winners, please visit Please email any questions to


Valerie is Director of Creative Youth Development for BGCA.


1. Los Musicos Culture and Traditions AUBRIE C., 10 Variety BGC, Los Angeles

6. Hold on to the Light Culture and Traditions MIGUEL M., 15 BGCs of the San Gorgonio Pass, Calif.

11. Octopus Monochromatic Drawing CHRISTINE J., 18 USAG Rheinland-Pfalz CYS Services

2. Broken Homes with Corrosive Mixed Media, Best in Show DEBORAH C.,15 BGCs of Central Florida

7. Who Am I? Photo Essay DAMIEN J., 16 Madison Square BGC, New York City

12. Spring Time Bunny Mixed Media MYASIA T., 9 BGCs of Arlington, Texas

3. My Love in Color Nature and Surroundings MARC L., 15 BGCs of the San Gorgonio Pass, Calif.

8. Farmer Jerry Portrait IAN F., 13 BGC of the Eastern Panhandle, W.V.

13. Fox Printmaking JORDAN G., 12 BGC of Carroll County, Ga.

4. Fish Out of Water Mixed Media CARLOS L., 17 BGC of Truckee Meadows, Nev.

9. The Dog Mixed Media SOFIA C., 12 BGCs of Indianapolis

14. Bite That Cherry Watercolor TINA M., 11 BGCs of Southeastern Michigan

5. Friends Forever Monochromatic Drawing TINA M., 11 BGCs of Southeastern Michigan

10. Altsoba Pastel AVERY D., 17 Barksdale AFB Youth Programs, La.

6. 4.

12 WINTER 2016











OPERATION: 250K By Dawn Brunson


Today, over 75 percent of military families live off-installation in virtually every community across the nation. Many live in areas with no immediate connection to other military families or youth and family services.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America, in collaboration with Armed Services Youth Programs, is the largest facility-based, youthserving partner for military-connected youth, on and off of military installations, serving over 450,000 youth annually.

Bobbie Franklin is a retired military spouse whose children attend the Boys & Girls Clubs of Toombs County in Vidalia, Georgia. “Boys & Girls Club programs are vital to the military community,” said Franklin. “I remember the challenge of finding a place nearby for my kids to go after school or during the summer. We always became members. Clubs give the military community a way to interact with other military youth.”

ver the past 26 years, Boys & Girls Clubs have stepped up in a big way to serve the children of military families. From Major Metro organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Texas and the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio, to those in high-deployment locales like the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cumberland County in Fayetteville, N.C., several Clubs have taken the lead to serve military-connected youth.

14 WINTER 2016

NEW VETS NEED CLUBS’ SUPPORT Military families are a diverse population. Their needs vary over time and across demographics, both socially and economically. Today, many communities are seeing an influx of a new generation of veterans who have served in the most recent wars. Many are parents of school-age children who need help finding activities to fill the out-of-school time hours as they seek employment, attend school, or work as they transition from service member to civilian. To address the needs of military-connected families living off-installation, BGCA will seek to connect 250,000 military connected youth with services. The initiative OPERATION: 250K will connect active duty, National Guard and Reserve families – as well as children of veterans from all Armed Forces branches – with Boys & Girls Clubs through memberships, partnerships, outreach and engagement. Earlier this year, BGCA Military & Outreach Services began to identify and target Boys & Girls Club organizations in highly-populated military communities that can help develop partnerships with local National Guard and Reserve units and veteran-serving organizations. Since many Clubs are not near an installation, some assume there are no military families in their community. Not so. You may need to put in a little more effort in marketing your programs to this population, but they are out there.

CONNECTING CLUBS AND MILITARY FAMILIES The process of connecting veterans and military families to services and programs such as Boys & Girls Clubs can be a challenge. The Military & Outreach Services team is working with Clubs to develop military recruitment and retention plans, provide training opportunities to address challenges specific to this population, and assist Clubs in becoming advocates for military families. Military-connected youth make incredible sacrifices for our country that often go overlooked. On average, military youth move six to nine times before high school graduation, adjusting to new teachers, schoolmates, cultures and even academic standards. This constant change can increase their risk of falling

behind or getting off track to graduate. Military families are among the most transient of populations, which often leads to issues with community engagement, disengagement and reengagement, and contributes to family and social stressors. Local Clubs are key to connecting with military youth in civilian communities Clubs. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Texas, for example, partners with U.S. Army Child, Youth, and School Services and its local school district to provide services to military youth in its community. “Serving military youth is not only the right fit for our Clubs and community,” said CEO John Charles. “It’s the right thing to do to honor the men and women who give so much to their country.” Military youth face challenges that no other nonprofit youth development organization is holistically serving. Clubs are primed to serve military youth and provide them with solutions to support their success. As we enter a new era of services for military-connected youth, Clubs are asked to open not only your hearts but your doors. Our next century of service will include sustaining impact and support on-installation. But our scope of service to military families must be comprehensive and support the transient military family collectively. The resources and supportive staff found at local Clubs will be critical to ensure the dependents of wounded, ill and injured veterans feel secure in the knowledge their children are involved in programs at Clubs that will build healthy, resilient youth. Overall, military youth are strong, resilient and independent as a result of their experiences. They understand sacrifice, education and the value of service. But many also struggle academically, emotionally and socially. These young people bravely bear the demands of a life of service. And so, it is our nation’s responsibility to help them deal with challenges they encounter. Supporting military youth and families is mission critical; it’s essential for the future of our armed forces and our national security. Strong military families can help improve mission readiness for thousands of service members. As you recruit youth to your programs, look for opportunities to be inclusive of military-connected children. Dawn Brunson is senior director, Military & Outreach Services for BGCA.

MILITARY PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP On Sept. 8, in Washington, D.C., BGCA launched Better Together: A Military Public-Private Partnership. A collaboration of government agencies, military-serving groups, corporations and foundations, the initiative is focused on improving the lives of military youth who live in civilian communities. Better Together is the first of its kind to connect partners and services from public and private organizations to serve military youth. The multi-day kick off featured the “New Normal for Military Families Executive Roundtable.” Hosted by BGCA at the Army and Navy Club, more than 50 participants discussed strategies to combat issues faced by contemporary military families. Preliminary conclusions included that any efforts to support military youth must focus on health and wellness, and that any services must be supported, sustainable and affordable. BGCA will publish a one-page white paper highlighting recommendations from the roundtable. CONNECTIONS 15

GETTING “FUTURE-READY” Workforce development programs connect teens to career success




igh school graduation rates are on the rise but, for many jobs, even those that don’t require a college degree, a high school diploma just isn’t enough. In addition to a solid education, teens entering the workforce need specific skills they can build through workforce development programs. That’s why more and more Boys & Girls Clubs are offering these programs.

3. 1. Lonnie and Jewell are among some 400 teens from Milwaukee Clubs placed as sales associates over the past five years at Boston Stores through a partnership with their parent company, BonTon Stores. 2. As summer interns at Circle 1 Network, these teens created an educational video game called Chef Shifter for the edutainment company’s gaming platform, 3. Greater Milwaukee Clubs partner with over 50 entities to put its teens to work – and even more that offer career exploration opportunities, such as the local NBC affiliate where Janai helped to deliver the weather forecast.

16 WINTER 2016

What exactly is workforce development? How is it different from career preparation? Traditionally, workforce development programs are driven by local employment needs: participants are offered specific training that prepares them for high-demand fields and positions right in their own communities. As Boys & Girls Clubs of America develops a model of workforce development for the Boys & Girls Club Movement, we are focusing on three critical components: Career Exploration and Matching – teens explore career options to find “career clusters” – groups of jobs and industries related by skills or products – that match their interests and passions Skills Development – teens develop skills that make them more marketable as employees Placement – teens apply these new skills in educational, employment or entrepreneurial opportunities made possible by BGCA or Club partnerships with employers

BEATING THE ODDS IN MILWAUKEE Leaders at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee knew they needed to help their teen members stand out in the city’s competitive job market. “Because of unemployment issues facing the local area, we had to find a way to make our youth marketable and credible,” said Michael Waits, Director of Career Development for the Greater Milwaukee Clubs. “In addition to offering more career programs, we also created a dedicated team of people who formed partnerships with local companies that serve our community, our businesses, our Club and, most importantly, our youth.”

Those programs and partnerships allow the Milwaukee Clubs to provide members with introductions to career fields through guest speakers and worksite tours, and training in basic job skills, plus internships and even job placements. For many teens, the career exploration programs at the Club are their first opportunity to develop their career goals and chart the path required to reach them. Youth also receive financial planning education and assistance.

TAKE THE STEPS Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee’s Career Development program offers members opportunities in four steps: STEP 1: World of Work – Club members ages 5 to 21 explore career opportunities and develop job-readiness skills through a combination of classroom training, job shadowing and internships. Members learn how to apply for a job, manage income and find employment. STEP 2: Industry Exposure and Skills Training – Young people ages 14 to 21 learn the difference between career options and jobs. Through job placements and other hands-on experiences in a variety of industries, members learn which skills they need to pursue the career they want. Staff members use work-readiness assessments and trainings to teach Club youth employability skills, including: basic skills and career interest assessments, labor market and career pathway information, interviewing techniques, work habits and conduct, meeting employer expectations, interpersonal skills, communication, team building, safety and health in the workplace, and financial literacy. STEP 3: Internships – Club members ages 14 to 21 are placed in the private sector through internships with a variety of companies that offer teens subsidized work experiences in the areas of retail, customer service, business and health care. Members put their training into practice while building resumeworthy experiences and earning income. In one program, BGC Bike, participants receive eight weeks of training in bicycle mechanics at the Club, followed by eight weeks of on-the-job training in a bike shop. When they complete the program, they receive their own bike and tool kit. A business and finance program teaches members about entrepreneurship, personal finance and business skills. Those who complete the program are eligible to apply for related internships. STEP 4: Career/Employment Opportunities – Finally, Club members who complete their participation in World of Work, other programs and internships are prepared to enter postsecondary education with career goals in mind, or find full-time employment. As Club members age and prepare for adulthood, providing them with workforce development opportunities should be at the forefront of every Club’s long-term vision for their youth. Innovative programs like the one being offered in Milwaukee should serve as models for Clubs as they move forward in this important area. By doing so, we will take one more vital step to ensure all Club members are on the path to realize their Great Futures.

SUCCESS IN SARASOTA In Florida, BGCA President and CEO Jim Clark helped cut the ribbon on a brand new workforce development facility at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota. Named for the generosity of the Club’s Board Chair, Tom Shapiro, and his wife, Debbie, the new center could be a model for such programs in the Boys & Girls Club Movement. In spring 2015, after identifying a significant gap in Sarasota County between available job openings in certain skilled trades, and qualified candidates for hire, the Club began envisioning a place where members could overcome poverty through real-world training experiences and collegiate resources for workforce development. Instructors train participants in such high-demand fields as electrical, HVAC, plumbing and the culinary arts.

TOOLS TO GET STARTED Two new resources to help Clubs better prepare teens for the world of work are now available: Workforce Development Implementation Guide Tools and resources to help your Club develop impactful workforce development partnerships and programming. CareerLaunch Revised and re-aligned with BGCA’s new workforce development vision, CareerLaunch can help teens to develop first-job readiness and essential workplace skills, explore careers and learn to chart a path to the future of their choice. Check out today to access these great resources! CONNECTIONS 17



There are many benefits for Boys & Girls Clubs to having intentional partnerships with local law enforcement. For law enforcement agencies, community policing includes a commitment to building trust and mutual respect between police and citizens. These relationships also provide opportunities to work together to address underlying tensions and problems in a community, and foster positive relationships between the police and Club members. With a goal for 1 million youth to engage in dialogue with law enforcement, Boys & Girls Clubs of America has released “The Youth-Led Dialogue with Law Enforcement Toolkit,” available for download at Such dialogues offer a safe place for difficult conversations and pave the way to increased understanding and even solutions. We’ve also compiled the following strategies to help your Club establish a mutually beneficial partnership with local law enforcement. 18 CONNECTIONS


Child & Club Safety

Child & Club Safety




Tension between police and teens has a long history. In recent decades, with school zero-tolerance laws, disparate discipline and justice for youth of color, and criminalization of many youth behaviors, tensions have at times risen to deadly levels. Teens sometimes perceive authorities as a hindrance to their freedom.

At the 2016 Northeast Leadership Conference, Executive Director Lara D’Antuono of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick in Rhode Island presented several worthy ideas about partnering with local police. “We gave police a fully equipped office space at the Club,” said D’Antuono. “In exchange, officers spend time with members – playing basketball, doing homework help, spending meaningful time with them.” This arrangement is a win-win, including the visible police presence that reduces crime and related risks to the Club and its members. Police not only come to know members by name, but also their family members, which can help ease tensions and build community. Officers are also more accessible to discuss prevention and community concerns or to provide formal training and drills.

In 2016, numerous Clubs hosted town hall meetings, panels, forums and dialogues with law enforcement. One of them was the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County in Hobe Sound, Fla. When teen members had questions about police and the numerous shooting incidents around the country, the Club organized a conference call that included over 100 teens from its five sites and local police, emergency responders and city officials. As one teen said, “We need to reflect. Only when we reflect can we get better.”

2. SAFETY COMMITTEES Forming or updating a Club safety committee can be a great place to start strengthening relationships with police, who can regularly advise on facility crime prevention and security strategies, and keep staff updated about local crime activity. It’s helpful to have an established relationship should police help be needed. Staff say such a rapport makes it easier to call police in an emergency, with officers more likely to work with the Club on a developmental approach to youth behavior problems, avoiding criminal charges when possible. In Missouri, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City’s board membership, like many organizations, includes local police officers. “Part of the process of demystifying the position of a police officer is having the police around in an unofficial capacity, interacting with kids,” Director of Healthy Lifestyles Waymond King said in a newspaper article.

4. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS In Oklahoma, Todd Gibson is a captain with the Norman Police Department, and commander of its SWAT Team. Through Centurion Consulting Group, he trains Clubs to prepare for an active shooter event and other emergencies. During training at the 2016 Southwest Leadership Conference, Gibson recommended that Clubs partner with their local police before they might need them. Learn which police are assigned to your neighborhood and invite them to tour the Club, meet staff and learn about your mission. “You don’t want the officer to see the inside of your Clubhouse for the first time during a SWAT response,” advised Gibson. “You want them to know your layout and be familiar with the property.” Police can conduct a site security assessment, make recommendations, and review your emergency plans. Clubs can arrange for active shooter and emergency preparation training and drills to be conducted by police at each unit.

5. MENTORS We know that young people need caring, supportive relationships with adults. When those adults are cops, youth gain the added benefit of feeling they can trust the police; that they are there to protect the community and work with them. Other benefits include people being more likely to obey the law when they believe that those enforcing it have legitimate authority to do so. Police building trusting relationships with youth and parents is key. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth in Texas benefits from a great relationship with law enforcement agencies. In fact, Margaret Terry, a school resource officer and 30-year veteran of the Fort Worth Police Department, spends summers at the Club. She runs youth-police basketball tournaments, talks with teens about tough issues, and is generally there to let kids know they are protected by police. “We want these kids to know that we are approachable, we’re touchable,” said Terry. “That we have their best interests at heart and want to bridge that gap.” Mitru Ciarlante is a director within BGCA’s Child & Club Safety Department.

For more information, please visit / ChildSafet y


columns View From The Potomac




peaking at the National Youth of the Year Celebration in Washington, D.C., last September, Southwest Youth of the Year Melanie W. revealed that hunger was how she first discovered the Boys & Girls Club. “I walked into the Club that first day looking for a snack … the snacks were good and filled my stomach,” she recalled. “The people were even better: they filled my heart and soul.” Like Melanie, members across the country enjoy nutritious meals and snacks because their Clubs are sites and sponsors for two Department of Agriculture offerings: the Summer Food Service Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Both provide children with healthy out-of-school time meals and snacks, supporting education and enrichment programs that keep children learning, engaged and safe. For many youth, these are the only nutritious meals they will have on a normal day. In 2014, 88 percent of Clubs reported they served 86 million snacks and meals at no cost to members. However, not all of them were working with USDA programs to get reimbursed. This year, 18 different Boys & Girls Club organizations in 12 states became new sponsors, providing young people with an estimated 1.15 million snacks and meals. In California, the Boys & Girls Club of Ukiah expanded its participation last summer. Partnering with a nearby school, the Club provided local kids with breakfast and lunch for most of the summer months through the Summer Food Service Program. When the school district closed for three weeks to clean and prep the kitchen for the school year, Boys & Girls Clubs of America stepped in to administer the program in the rural community. To make sure the lunch program operated smoothly, the Ukiah Club recruited teen members to work as servers and to help with other aspects of the program. As a result, the teens gained valuable workforce skills as they gave back to the Club.

ADVOCATE FOR USDA PROGRAMS Clubs that wish to support and expand these federal programs may want to consider advocating for the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which authorizes funding for the Summer Food Service Program and Child and Adult Care Program. Invite government officials to visit your Club and share stories and statistics to demonstrate how the meal programs have impacted Club members. With all of the great work that Clubs do, it is hard not to recognize the importance of protecting site-based food programs. In addition to providing nutritious meals and snacks, Club meal sites provide opportunities to stop summer learning loss, make child safety checks and encourage physical activity.


View from the Potomac

View From The Potomac


The Child Nutrition Reauthorization offers the opportunity to make changes and improvements to the bill that would expand and support meal and snack programs at Boys & Girls Clubs. Priority areas that would benefit Clubs include: • Efficient Application Process – Reduce red tape by allowing Clubs to complete one application to provide children meals after school and during summer. • Improve Local Eligibility – Communities could participate if 40 percent of local youth are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals; rather than the current 50 percent. • Start-up and Expansion Grants – Expanded access including new meal sites, added service days and more types of meals. • Eliminate Skipped Meals – This would provide the option of serving two meals and a snack or three meals so children could continue learning throughout the afternoon. Currently, Clubs can serve a maximum of two meals. Your voice as a Club leader can lend a powerful voice to the advocacy campaign supporting the Child Nutrition Reauthorization. The Government Relations team is here to provide you with resources and opportunities to spread the word about the power of Boys & Girls Clubs to combat childhood hunger!

To participate or expand your participation in the Summer Food Service Program or Adult Care Food Program, email Brett Haydin at or Eric Bonley at For questions or assistance about being an advocate for USDA meal programs, please email Sage Learn at or Will Dittmar at For more information, please visit


May 10-12


REGISTER TODAY! Don’t miss our Movement’s annual gathering of Boys & Girls Club professionals, board volunteers and supporters from across the nation!

Highlights include: 2017 Alumni Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 2nd Annual Boys & Girls Clubs Care Day of Service All-Day Staff Training for Area Clubs Register now at

Connections winter 2016 2017  
Connections winter 2016 2017  

In this issue . . . Meet Jocelyn, our New National Youth of the Year! Amazing Artwork by Youth Artists A Plan to Reach More Military-Connect...