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Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Celebrating its centennial in 2006, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America has as its mission “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” Employing 47,000 trained staff members, the clubs serve more than 4.6 million boys and girls at more than 3,900 locations in the United States, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and on American military bases around the world. Two-thirds of the children served are from minority families. The organization has youth programs in many areas including education, the environment, health, the arts, careers, alcohol/drug and pregnancy prevention, gang prevention, leadership development and athletics.

The organization’s “Keystone” clubs for ages 14-18 and “Torch” clubs for ages 11-13 deal with youth leadership efforts and community service projects. The National Youth of the Year Program serves to recognize local, state and national young people who have made significant contributions to their communities.

The Boys & Girls Clubs sponsor a wide range of educational and life skills programs. The “Money Matters” program, for example helps teens learn to make intelligent decisions regarding their finances. CareerLaunch is a career and life skills mentoring program for teens. Job Ready helps older teens move into the work force with advice on interviewing and job application techniques. Project Learn is an innovative learning skills program. Passport to Manhood, and SMART Girls help young people with the issues involved in growing up. KIDS IN CONTROL is a 15 session safety awareness program for children aged 8-10. Street Smart is engineered to help young people deal with issues of street gangs, violence and anger management.

The Boys & Girls Clubs have a long history of sponsoring athletic and sports leagues and competitions for young people. The club began in Hartford, Connecticut in the 1860s, became a national organization in the early twentieth century, and changed its name and charter to serve girls as well as boys in 1990.