Our History

Fostering a sense of safety and belonging has been at the root of our service for 130 years.

As times have changed over the decades, BGCB’s Clubs have remained a beacon of hope and opportunity for the young people we serve, providing safe spaces in which our members can learn and grow despite the challenges they may face at home or in their neighborhoods.

From cobbling and woodworking to music production and wheelchair basketball, BGCB’s programs have evolved over more than a century. What has remained consistent is the dedication of our expert staff members, from aquatics directors to social workers, who serve as role models and create positive, lasting relationships with our members.

Three young boys in the gym smiling

Historical Timeline

  • 1893 – Bunker Hill Boys Club Opens: In order to provide a safe, productive space for boys, Roxbury Boys Club opens. In 2006, the Club reopens following renovation and expansion, as the Yawkey Club of Roxbury.
  • 1910 – Roxbury Boys Club Opens: Frank S. Mason founds the Bunker Hill Boys Club. Doors open in Charlestown on March 11, 1893 with an initial membership of 38 boys.
  • 1925 – Boys Clubs of Boston: Bunker Hill Boys Club and Roxbury Boys Club merge as Boys Clubs of Boston, bringing together two strong institutions to create a more effective organization for the community.
  • 1936 – First Summer Camp: BGCB opens Camp Wing in Duxbury. Today, it offers full-day camps for seven weeks at each of its sites.
  • 1938 – South Boston Club Opens: South Boston Boys Club is founded, enlisting 500 new members in its first year.
  • 1974 – Busing Crisis-A Safe Haven: Then and now, Clubs serve as a beacon for kids looking for a safe place where they are accepted and protected without regard to the color of their skin.
  • 1981 – Organization Renamed Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston: Girls, many of whom have been attending the Clubs since 1973, are officially admitted to all Clubs as full members. The organization is formally renamed “Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston,” the first in the country to include girls in the name.
  • 1992 – Midnight Basketball: During a period of some of the worst gang violence in the city’s history, the Clubs use basketball to calm tensions.
  • 1993 – Chelsea Club Opens: BGCB opens a site in the Innes Housing Development. In 2002, it moves to its new home and is renamed the Gerald and Darlene Jordan Club/Kraft Family Youth Center.
  • 1995 – Blue Hill Club Opens: A new center is constructed in Dorchester; during the inaugural summer season, more than 200 boys and girls learn to swim. In 2016, the Club is renamed the Berkshire Partners Blue Hill Club in honor of the long-standing and ongoing commitment of individuals at Berkshire Partners.
  • 1996 – YouthConnect is Established: Originally known as Youth Service Providers Network (YSPN), this partnership with the Boston Police Department features licensed clinical social workers who provide immediate intervention initiatives for vulnerable youth.
  • 2005 – Dearborn Joins BGCB: BGCB assumes management of the Club at Dearborn Middle School in Roxbury, making it an additional “Shared Space” Club organized by BGCB.
  • 2007 – First Music Clubhouse: The Blue Hill Club is renovated. New features of the Club include the organization’s first Music Clubhouse, which can today be found in six BGCB locations.
  • 2007 – Sumner and Condon Clubs Open: Two new Shared Space Clubs join the BGCB family thanks to Charles Sumner Elementary and Condon Elementary.
  • 2009 – Franklin Hill Club Opens: In addition to offering a breadth of programming, such as homework help and music lessons, the new Shared Space Club’s proximity to the Blue Hill Club grants access to facilities such as the pool.
  • 2011 – Orchard Gardens Club Opens: Dearborn Club staff and membership relocate to a new facility at the Orchard Gardens Community Center.
  • 2013 – Hennigan Club Opens: BGCB implements after-school programming at the James W. Hennigan Elementary School in Jamaica Plain, allowing BGCB to serve an additional 100 youth.
  • 2014 – Mattapan Teen Center Opens: The first standalone teen center welcomes 260 teens in its first year, with programs ranging from theater and fitness in its Foundation Room to production and recording in Mattapan Records.
  • 2018 – 125 Years of Service: BGCB celebrates the 125th anniversary of opening its doors and creating opportunities for the children and teens of Boston and Chelsea.
  • 2020 – Amidst a global pandemic, BGCB remains a community hub by distributing food and resources, hosting vaccination clinics, and extending hours to host members for virtual learning. In the earliest days of the pandemic, BGCB quickly pivoted to an all-virtual program curriculum.
  • 2022 – Robert Lewis, Jr. begins his tenure as Nicholas President and CEO and the organization’s 16th leader. He is an alumnus of Salesian Boys & Girls Club of East Boston.
  • 2023 – Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston celebrates its 130th year and embarks on a staff-led Strategic Plan that is bold, aspirational, inclusive, actionable, and community-centric.