The Boys & Girls Clubs Movement began in the 1860’s in Hartford, Connecticut. Like many American cities at the time, Hartford had been transformed by the Industrial Revolution, and in order to make a living, adults often worked 12 hour days and six days a week. As a result, children to their own devices, and juvenile chaos reigned. Understanding the potentially dangerous situation at hand, a group of local women took it upon themselves to create a safe place for boys to go after school and on weekends, where they could engage in wholesome pastimes. From these events, the Dashaway Club was born.
As word of the success of this club spread, other cities copied the model. New York, though, was the first to call it a Boys Club. Even though girls had been attending for years, it did not become the Boys & Girls Club until 1990. Today there are more than 4,100 clubs nationally, serving four million kids. Staff and volunteers number in the hundreds of thousands, all of whom are dedicated to shaping these otherwise underprivileged kids into responsible, caring adults. For them it’s not just a job. It’s a calling.
The Club came to Austin in 1967 and over the years it has been guided by some of the most prominent members of our community. Today, we are Austin’s leading youth development agency, serving nearly 12,000 kids at neighborhood clubs, high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. Every day, kids are exposed to dozens of life enhancing programs that enrich them both academically and socially. It’s been proven that kids who are engaged in meaningful, supervised activities while not in school have better school attendance, earn better grades and are more likely to attend college.The Clubs are more than just safe havens for kids at risk, but daily examples of how good life can be when young people are nurtured, inspired, and encouraged to reach their full potential. Through the Clubs, kids are given the tools and opportunities needed to create their own destinies.
According to Newsweek, Boys & Girls Clubs is the most successful youth development movement in America today.