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“Emboldened by our talented, committed, and compassionate staff, BGCB continues its pledge to members, families, and the communities we serve.” 

—Robert Lewis, Jr., Nicholas President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston

To our BGCB community of staff and champions:

Exactly one year ago, when I began my tenure as Nicholas President and CEO at Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB), our communities, cities, and our country were in a state of transition. A lingering and erratic pandemic. Mental health and learning loss challenges for our young people. A racial reckoning. Violence in our city and a war waging half a world away.

It has been said that amidst chaos, you can always find hope. Our young people need the love, support… and hope they find at our Clubs and at YouthConnect more than ever as they navigate the uncertainty that feels ever present these days. As BGCB celebrates 130 years this year, hope persists, and our work continues.

When philanthropist MacKenzie Scott made a transformational $17 million dollar investment in our organization and young people last year, it was an incredible affirmation and acknowledgement of BGCB’s 130-year history, impact, and most of all, potential. Our moment is now to do something great for Boston’s and Chelsea’s youth.

CEO and president Robert Lewis Jr smiling
Robert Lewis, Jr., Nicholas President and CEO

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I accepted this role knowing that as the organization’s leader, I have both the daunting responsibility and immense opportunity to live up to the potential our deeply loyal champions see in us, and to act boldly to ensure that every young person has every opportunity to pursue their own path to success and reach their greatest potential. Today, the work continues and our membership numbers, currently at 90%, continue to climb to pre-pandemic levels. Emboldened by our talented, committed, and compassionate staff, BGCB continues its pledge to members, families, and the communities we serve.

…a promise to close the opportunity gap and provide economic and social mobility for our Club members. To build the Commonwealth’s talent pipeline and be the go-to organization for teen engagement and career development through Ready to Work. Our workforce development initiative and Innovation Learning Labs provide access and exposure to new careers for our deserving members – the future workforce – and set the stage for generations to come.

…a promise to ensure that BGCB’s diverse leadership team has the experience and credentials necessary to confidently serve as the Commonwealth’s leading organization for healthy youth development. A promise we have fulfilled through the thoughtful buildout of our executive and senior leadership teams (with 39% identifying as people of color and 58% as women), These deliberate moves and additions build a deeper bench of talent, offer more diverse perspectives, and cement the platform and leadership necessary to position BGCB for the next decade of innovation and growth.

…a promise to continue to diversify our full Board to reflect the changing face of our communities and provide valuable insight in the work we do. New Directors Lynn Bogle, Roxann Cooke, Drew Harrington, Cain Hayes, Tricia Herring, and Mary Skelton Roberts strengthen their commitment to the organization. Thank you to everyone that serves on our Board of Directors, Trustees, and Advisory Boards and Committees – as the ambassadors of our mission, your work is integral to BGCB’s success.

…a promise to invest and celebrate our talented staff. From our September Staff Day kickoff to our annual Professional Development Day in February, BGCB remains committed to cultivating and supporting our most exceptional resource: our dedicated and compassionate staff. The organization-wide investment in a compensation analysis, with increases effective July 1, was made to improve staff retention, express gratitude, and acknowledge the high expectations we set for staff.

a promise that BGCB’s latest Strategic Plan will be bold, aspirational, inclusive, and community-centric. Most of all, it will be actionable. Our strategic planning process is led by BGCB Board members Michele Courton Brown, Melissa Weiner Janfaza, Dana Smith and staff Sheri Harvey, Molly Herlihy, and Elizabeth Shearer.

Over the next two months, BGCB’s Strategic Planning Committee is convening seven working groups to further refine recommendations. These groups include Wellness, Family Wellness, Academic Success, Workforce Readiness, Essential Skills, Branding & Storytelling, and Revenue Development. Our working groups are engaging more than 100 individuals, including BGCB site staff members, in more than 30 structured meetings with the directive to provide holistic recommendations for measurable, tangible outcomes and more consistency across our sites. Recommendations will include strategic partnerships, trainings, and tool kits that are necessary for member and staff success.

a promise to cultivate strategic and thoughtful program partnerships. Our BGCB leadership team continues to redefine and elevate collaborations with Boston Public Schools, Boston Housing Authority, Mass Life Science Center, Boston Medical Center, and other stakeholder organizations to build more sustainable pathways for increased teen engagement including utilizing Club space in new, innovative ways. From our partners at Yasso handing out sneakers to kick off the school year to AT&T participating in career networking forums and providing the technology needed to set a path to success, our partners are intentional in their investments.

a promise to serve more teens across Boston and Chelsea. To provide access and exposure to career opportunities and education pathways. To prepare and ensure all our graduating seniors leave with a plan for the future. Our 2023 BGCB Youth of the Year, Brielle Jean from our Edgerley Family South Boston Club has her plan, and together with her fellow Club Youths of the Year Ari, Armani, Kayla, Leslie, Luis, they represent our skilled young leaders, ready and willing to change the world.

a promise to showcase and position our talented teens and graduating seniors for continued growth and recognition. From the Josh Kraft Mattapan Teen Center’s next documentary to our inaugural Club Night event in June, our staff provides opportunities and spaces for our youth to grow and display their incredible talents.

a promise to leverage BGCB’s unparalleled integration of programs, services, real estate, and mentorship, coupled with the important sense of belonging the Clubs offer, to respond to violence in our communities and prioritize equity across systems and wellness for our members and families. Our mission remains true – that we serve all youth – and the nuanced work of YouthConnect continues to address behavioral health needs and problems that contribute to juvenile crime.

As I reflect on what we as an organization have accomplished over the past year, I have a deep sense of urgency, gratitude, and excitement about what lies ahead. We are meeting the moment and continuing to redefine our voice…to ensure our youth’s brilliant futures.

As Mayor Michelle Wu noted at our Annual Dinner, “the approach of BGCB is important and transformational…to have a space where young people and their families are recognized for the entirety of who they are, what they need, and what they can be.” Her words ring true and act as a reminder that the space BGCB provides extends to our street corners, our board rooms, our classrooms, and everywhere in between.

We are 130 years new, and the future is bright.

Be well,


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