Research shows that the largest, single predictor of a child’s future success is the presence of at least one non-parent adult in their life. Kids who have positive adult relationships are more motivated to learn and do better in school, they have a better sense of themselves and their future, they accept and take responsibility for themselves and others, and they are more resilient and less likely to engage in risky behavior. Every day, 1,700 Club kids form meaningful relationships with staff and volunteers. As a result, they are generating amazing results for our community through proven, successful programming.
A few key facts
- In spite of high school dropout rates for Latino and African American students, 100% of Latino and African American Club members graduate from high school on time.
- Club members have a 15% higher overall GPA than their peers and 87% fewer absences. More importantly, they have greater expectations for their futures.
- Texas spends $99,000+ per year for every child in juvenile detention. The Club spends just $500 on programs and services that are proven deterrents to juvenile crime. Club kids see firsthand the value of attending school and avoiding drugs and gangs. They are able to picture themselves as successful, caring and productive adults.
Responding to challenges facing Austin youth
The most influential time in a child’s life is between 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. every day after school. Thousands of kids throughout our community lack adult supervision and meaningful, positive things to do between the time they leave school and the time their parents come home. In fact, the most common time for youth to engage in sexual intercourse is between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Boys & Girls Clubs are open during these five critical hours, offering a fun and productive environment to enjoy after school and all day during summer and school holidays. Nationally, 60% of Alumni said the Club was the only place to go in their neighborhood after school and 90% said the Club was one of the best options available to them in their community.
We believe that every child should graduate high school on time, college or career-ready with the skills they need to succeed in today’s globally competitive workforce. Clubs partner with youth, parents, schools and other community stakeholders to implement three approaches: academic enrichment and school engagement, targeted dropout prevention, and intensive intervention and case management.
The average high school dropout rate in America is 33%. For Latino and African American males, that rate is closer to 50%. In Travis County, almost 33% of all public high school students–and nearly 50% of African-American, Hispanic, and Native American students–fail to graduate from public high school with their class. Graduation rates for Caucasians and Asians, however, hover around 75-77%, respectively, with about one-quarter of these students failing to graduate on time.
In-depth research conducted over a 10-year period by the Harvard Family Research Project suggests that sustained participation in well-structured programs and activities, often provided by out-of-school time nonprofit organizations, help youth attain the knowledge and skills necessary for success in the 21st century. However, only 30% of school-aged children in Travis County have access to out of school programs.
Furthermore, research shows youth participating in quality after-school programs have better academic performance, behavior and school attendance, and greater expectations for the future. In one study, BGCAA youth had substantially higher grade point averages in various subjects and a 15% higher overall GPA compared to their peers. They also had 87% fewer absences and showed an 81% increase in homework completion. Ninety percent of BGCAA alumni graduated from high school and 26% are likely to earn a college degree, the same as the U.S. general population.
Character and Good Citizenship
We believe that developing America’s next generation of world changers starts today. Our country’s future depends on responsible, engaged citizens and innovative, resilient leaders. Helping youth acquire the skills needed to participate in the democratic process is the main thrust of our programs. Through our programming, Club members develop leadership skills, contribute to the Clubs and their community, and improve decision-making and planning skills, all while celebrating our national heritage.
Due to the effects of social isolation, crime, violence and drugs, kids living in areas of concentrated poverty perform worse than their peers living in more affluent areas. Of the estimated 251,189 children in Travis County, 45,214 (18%) are living at or below the federal poverty line ($10,830 for an individual; $22,050 for a family of four.)
In Austin and Travis County, an annual income of $22,050 for a household of four is nowhere near sufficient for parents to provide the same opportunities to their children as those families living above the poverty line. As a result, and as they grow older, these kids are often left behind because of their lack of access to enrichment activities during after school hours and the summer.
Moreover, kids living in poverty are associated with poorer health, higher rates of learning disabilities, lower literacy and math performance, and higher likelihood of dropping out of high school. Nationally, 62% of Club Alumni said they became more committed to their education, 80% reported the Club had a positive impact on their health and fitness and 84% said the Club helped improved their outlook or attitude.
We believe healthy minds need the support of healthy bodies. A future generation of active citizens begins by building healthy habits in our kids. Club programs develop daily fitness habits, offer nutrition education programs, encourage a positive use of leisure time, strengthen social and interpersonal skills, and help to understand healthy relationships. They also reduce stress and foster a general appreciation for the environment.
According to the Center for Disease Control, Texas ranks third in the nation for teenage pregnancies, behind Mississippi and New Mexico. Travis County is ranked number one in America for teen pregnancies. A recent study found that youth who don’t spend time in extracurricular activities after school are 37% more likely to become teen parents compared to youth who spend time in after school programs. In Austin, 55% of BGCAA members are between 13 and 18 years old and engaged in interactive Club activities like SMART Moves, SMART Girls and Passport to Manhood, which are all nationally recognized prevention programs that help young people resist alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, as well as premature sexual activity.
Challenges unique to middle school youth
The transition from elementary to middle school is a challenging time for kids. It’s a time when they begin to make important life choices on their own. During middle school years, kids go through dramatic physical, emotional and cognitive changes. These transitions can translate into new potentials as well as risks. Unfortunately, though, middle school students are often left out, as they are often too young for traditional youth development programs and too old for school-age care. BGCAA is aware of this growing gap in services to this special group of kids and, at the request of the Austin Independent School District, has responded by expanding its after-school programs to middle schools and high schools located in Austin’s most economically distressed areas: the East and South regions.
Challenges unique to teens
Mental health professionals agree that teenagers have their own virtual universes, which are free from adult supervision at a time when threats to their health and well-being have never been greater. The list of factors to blame is long and obvious: easy access to drugs and alcohol (many of which parents are taking legally), easy access to sex (either in real life, through cable TV or internet porn), as well as more familiar pressures such as divorce, rampant materialism, ever-increasing academic demands, and the omnipresent glorification of violence in the media. Kids are bombarded with it on television, at the movies, in video games, in music, and on the Internet.
The difficulties teenagers face haven’t changed for this generation, but society has, leaving kids susceptible to more dangerous activities. Boys & Girls Clubs are uniquely positioned to address these challenges on a daily basis–and with great success. Nationally, 86% of Club Alumni say the Boys & Girls Club helped teach them right from wrong. Sixty-seven percent said the Club helped them avoid difficulty with the law.