Reaching millions of children and making meaningful differences.
Have you ever met a superhero? I know a few… the 67,000 staff at Boys & Girls Clubs working tirelessly to ensure the youth we serve feel safe, supported and empowered to use their voice in this world.
But, you don’t have to leap tall buildings in a single bound or be a youth development professional to make a difference for young people. You can be a champion for kids by volunteering as a coach or mentor at your local Club; donating to youth programs in your community; or becoming an advocate for the issues you care about, like asking your member of Congress to co-sponsor the Youth Workforce Readiness Act.
It will take all of us, working together, to ensure our young people have access to the tools, resources and opportunities that will set them up for success. That’s why Boys & Girls Clubs of America has teamed up with 12 of the nation’s leading youth programs to launch Be a Champion, #InvestInKids, a shared initiative to raise awareness and increase support for youth programs across the country.
Here’s what we know. Today, 1 in 6 children in the U.S. live in poverty, 4.5 million young people aren’t in school and are unemployed and over 75 percent of youth are concerned they lack the necessary skills to land a job.
Youth programs help close the opportunity gap – reaching millions of children and making meaningful differences in how they view their own ability to have a great future. They connect young people to opportunities for play, leadership, service, education and career preparation – like the JuicePlus+ Technical Training Center at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis, which trains Club members in the culinary arts, automotive repair, customer service and more. Or members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Luis Valley, who summited the 14,000-foot peak of Mount Elbert in Colorado through the Club’s outdoor adventure program.
With the support of their local Club, our hope is that young people grow up to be productive, caring, responsible citizens like Jerome W. Jones Jr., who credits mentors from his Richmond, Virginia-area Boys & Girls Club with fostering his artistic talents. As we celebrate Black History Month, Jerome’s work showcasing African-American trailblazers like Dr. Dorothy Height, Shirley Chisolm and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., recently exhibited in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Cabell Library as part of the “I AM 400” banner he created with his son, Jeromyah Jones, serves as a timely reminder of how commitment, perseverance and sacrifice can effect real change.
As history has shown us, working together leads to big impact. We teach that same tenet of civic responsibility in Boys & Girls Clubs. In fact, 89 percent of Club members report that they believe they can stand up for what they think is right, and 83 percent believe they can make a difference in their community. If the kids can do it, certainly the adults can too.
Learn more about how you can find your inner champion and invest in kids. Cape not included.