Each year, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB)’s President’s Innovation Fund empowers our staff to lead new, creative programs at the Club which identify an unmet need or interest for members. Started in 2006, this year’s 12 President’s Innovation Fund recipients were granted funds totaling nearly $14,000 for their innovative and thoughtful new initiatives which could be applied to a range of program areas, including fitness and nutrition, fashion design, and even a debate club.
Of the 12 staff who received funds, Kristine McNulty received this year’s Dana Smith President’s Innovation Award as the highest– scored applicant by the selection committee. As Edgerley Family South Boston Club’s Teen Engagement and Retention Coordinator, Kristine created a Queer Straight Alliance (QSA), an opportunity for members and staff who identify as LGBTQ+ or as allies of the community to gather in a safe space.
Alongside co-coordinator Izzy Gonzalez, School-Aged Child Care Group Leader, Kristine ensures her members receive equitable access to sexual health education and hygiene materials through a customized, gender-inclusive curriculum.
“Growing up, I never received any formal sex education, and I know most of our members also don’t have access to the education and resources they need at school or at home,” says Kristine. “The QSA creates a structured, inclusive curriculum for any members, regardless of their identity, to receive the guidance and support they need.”
Since starting the program this fall, Kristine and Izzy have established a set of group agreements with their members to encourage confidential, candid discussion. “Respect is a huge priority for us,” Kristine says. “And it’s important for any BGCB group to have a sense of democratic control for members to set the tone they want for our space.” Communal rules include hearing from one speaker at a time, taking each other’s questions seriously, and respecting everyone’s gender and sexual identity.
This year, Kristine hopes their group can continue to build on the trust they’ve created with their members, and continue to encourage them to lean on each other and the Queer Straight Alliance as a daily resource.
“I want our members to have fun, learn, and feel a sense of autonomy in the group,” Kristine says. “This group is for them.”
Your support allows Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston to continue creating innovative, needs-based programing that serves our members in new and adaptive ways. Get involved by following along on social media and supporting our families here.