It was four years ago this month that I began my service as CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson and what a wonderful journey it has been. I am so excited about our progress, challenges that were overcome, and our positive momentum as we move into 2019.
In our mission to prepare our kids for great futures, we continued to pursue ambitious goals for 2018 and now 2019, and I would like to share just a few of these with you.
We maintained our reach of just under 9,000 youth served last year and continued our full-day Summer Camp with the financial help of Team Cholla. We continued growing our Club Teen membership and Club Teams created new strategies to ensure teens were connecting with valuable programs and resources.
We continued our strong programming partnerships with Parks In Focus, a photography program through the Udall foundation, our Frank & Edith Morton Basketball Leagues that have been supported by a generous grant from the Tucson Conquistadors, Girls Scouts, Boys Scouts, the International Wildlife Museum, STEM Garden Projects, Engage Rugby and a special club volunteer program through the Tucson Police Department. We also expanded learning and activity opportunities for our young people with iAMYOU360, Tucson Urban League Tech Start Internships, and our kids got to go on field trips to the Fox Theater, the Tucson Roadrunners, Phoenix Suns, U of A Women’s and Men’s games and we were able to nourish our kids with serving dinner every night and lunch during our summer programs with our Tucson Food Bank and TUSD meal partnerships.
The Heartworks program was launched by Cindy Robertson as a labor of love. Cindy organized art sessions and visiting artists to work with our kids to create more than 1,500 special pieces of artwork that were displayed and sold at a pop up store at La Encantada in October with all proceeds helping to fund the program. We are expanding the program in 2019 due to Cindy and her husband, Senior Board Member Tom Robertson, who also secured a grant from the Catalina Rotary Club that helped support costs for the program as well.
Emeritus Board Member Mark Irvin also facilitated an exciting partnership with the Tucson Roadrunners and the Phoenix Coyotes to build a new DEK Hockey Rink next to our Frank & Edith Morton Clubhouse. Teams are building and starting to come to practice at the new venue opening up a whole new sport for kids and the Tucson community.
Our list of corporate partners grew and we received some phenomenal gifts and grants for special projects. These made it possible for us to add new programming and create new learning and activity spaces.
The gym at our Steve Daru Clubhouse is being renovated thanks to a wonderful gift from the Fiesta Bowl Charities and the games room and lobby have been completely remodeled with a very inviting and updated look with a National Grant from Lowes.
We are going into our third year with our STEM center of Innovation at Holmes Tuttle through a grant from Raytheon and BGCA. The program is going strong and it has been amazing to see our kid’s interest and excitement grow in their desire to purse STEM degrees and careers.
We opened our new Workforce Development Center at Holmes Tuttle Clubhouse this week due to a wonderful grant from The Centurions and the generosity of Sam Levitz, Ashley HomeStores, and Julie and Dale Butcher. The Workforce Development Center
will result in our Club Teens getting much more support with determining their plans after high school and achieving them.
Last Spring we started offering a Board Game focused STEM club at Steve Daru brought to us by BGC Alumni and Osiris Rex Rocket Scientist Dante Laurette. Dante also created a class at Uof A last fall and rallied a group of students to facilitate the program and mentor our youth. We are also planning to expand the program to Holmes Tuttle this spring.
Our Academic Incentive Program called EXCEL for high school students continued to grow. This program was inspired by Louise and Dale Henderson and provides cash incentives for good grades. We are super excited about our club Teens response to the program with over 100 teens participating so far.
We couldn’t provide all these amazing programs and spaces without our special donors, sponsors, community partners, volunteers, Board members and BGCT staff. Thank you all for inspiring me every day with your commitment to make a difference in the lives of our youth and community.