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“For nearly 130 years, BGCB has been here—through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and other challenges big and small.” – Josh Kraft, Nicholas President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston

This article was contributed by Josh Kraft, Nicholas President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston

Though 2020 has proven to be an unforgettable year, one element remains tried and true: Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB) has continued to provide a safe space to more than 12,500 young people throughout Boston and Chelsea during a time when communities have relied on the Clubs more than ever. 

I invite you to read about Yawkey Club of Roxbury member Paris’s experiences this year as an example of what life has been like for her and so many others. Our members need BGCB to be here for them to celebrate their successes, invest in their interests, provide opportunities, and create a warm and inviting space to think, read, create, ask questions, stand up, and speak out for what they believe in.

Shifting to Virtual Programs in the Spring

For nearly 130 years, BGCB has been here—through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and other challenges big and small. When we closed our physical doors this spring, BGCB’s staff immediately launched our virtual Club at Home, posting more than 550 different activities for our members in the first 15 weeks alone. Our staff engaged more than 700 members of all ages each week through meetings on Zoom and Instagram Live. YouthConnect provided virtual counseling sessions with 175-200 clients weekly.

Combatting Food Insecurity in the Community

BGCB has consistently worked to combat food insecurity by providing nutritious meals and snacks, sending food home with members on the weekends, and teaching cooking skills and nutrition education. In response to the overwhelming need seen during the pandemic, staff distributed grocery gift cards, fresh produce boxes, and more than 51,000 meals to low-income and food-insecure families.

Reopening Facilities for Summer Programs

This July, BGCB safely reopened our doors to offer fun and educational summer activities at eight Club locations with limited in-person capacity. Additionally, Ready to Work, BGCB’s career readiness program, launched a virtual Summer Campus connecting more than 100 teen members and young adult alumni to paid internships, mentoring, and career readiness workshops.

Extending Hours to Provide Remote Learning Support During School

For this school year, we have expanded our operating hours with Clubs now open from 7:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m. to support members attending school remotely with learning enrichment centers. Since opening this fall, we have been serving an average of nearly 500 youth each day with 65 learning cohorts across our Clubs. Meanwhile, we’ve continued virtual programs and have been serving another 500 young people through staff-led virtual meetings focused on the same programs members participate in while at Clubs.

Our mission, now and in the months ahead, is to be here for our resilient, talented, spirited members. Thank you to our entire community of supporters for all you make possible for our young people.

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