In 1860, three women in Hartford Connecticut believed that the boys they saw lollygagging in the streets should have something better to do with their time. So they made sure they did. They started a club that gave the boys constructive, community-based activities that helped forge their characters. In the 150 years since, this idea has spread from a community cause to a national sensation, with that first club inspiring more than 1,140 independent organizations to form since. Today, Boys & Girls Clubs of America reach more than 4,000 communities, giving children?including the child versions of spokespeople Denzel Washington and Jennifer Lopez?positive outlets for their spare time.
The Clubs' programs touch on everything from volunteer-service days to bake sales and zoo field trips. Yet no matter what the specific activity, participating students gain a connection with and respect for their community, enhancing their communication skills and self-esteem. The organization also focuses on specific goals through tailored programs, helping build leadership skills, artistic talents, or the knowledge necessary to compete in the job market.