Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio
Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio has been helping kids in our community for over 81 years, serving more than 7,000 youth last year. Many youths live in neighborhoods where they are challenged with high poverty and low academic expectations. However, at the Boys & Girls Clubs, these youth enter into a stable, fun environment offering access to the highest quality programs and support. The mission of the club is to ensure that every club member, regardless of their income, their neighborhood, or their ethnicity, graduates from high school with a plan for their future is our highest priority.
With the onset of the pandemic, BGCSA immediately identified that food insecurity was a significant problem in the neighborhoods we serve. During the weeks that the clubs were closed, staff distributed 2,441 Club on the Go Care Packages filled with essential supplies and activities for children and emergency food for 6,522 families. With the safety of our members and staff as our first priority, BGCSA re-opened five clubhouses for summer programming on June 1 with limited capacity. This summer, just over 300 children attended the Clubs each day, restoring our members’ sense of safety and belonging and engaging them in fun educational activities to prepare them for the coming school year.
Nearly all Club kids come from low-income families and 97% are minorities. When schools went online in March, 13% of low-income students completely disengaged and these numbers were much higher for minority students. Most Club parents are front-line workers without the option of working from home, putting their children at an increasing disadvantage with schools remaining closed because of the pandemic. To ensure that the kids who need us most have academic support in the virtual learning environment, beginning August 17, BGCSA opened the “learning pod” program. Each small group has an Academic Aide and other staff to help them be successful in the virtual classroom, offering guidance, answering questions, and assisting with technology issues. BGCSA will maintain the flexibility to shift our model as necessary to ensure that the most vulnerable kids stay engaged in school and have the \\ guidance they need in a supportive,stable environment that they can count on when their parents cannot be at home.
After they complete their school day, staff provide youth with our traditional afterschool programs offering tutoring, special classes for struggling readers, social-emotional learning, positive life skills, sports, arts, and other fun enrichment activities! Our partnership with the San Antonio Food Bank ensures that members have a meal every day. This vital program will cost members just $20 per month which is only possible through the generous support of our community. BGCSA is committed to providing the full day Learning Pod program for as long as San Antonio families need us, ensuring youth thrive in a virtual learning environment and parents have the support they need while they work to provide for their families.
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BY RENEE GARVENS