Founded in 1939, the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio is celebrating its 80th year in service to San Antonio. BGCSA is part of a 159-year-old national movement that serves 4.3 million youth with 413,000 adult staff and volunteers at 4,300 clubs in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and military bases around the world. Originally formed in 1860 in Hartford, CT, by a group of women as a positive alternative to the streets for boys, it became an affiliated organization in 1906 in Boston, MA when 53 clubs joined to become the Federated Boys Club. Having become the Boys Club of America in 1931 and was chartered by the United States Congress in 1956. The national organization officially became the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 1991.
The local Clubs opened in 1939 as Boys Clubs of San Antonio on the west side in public housing on Dolorosa Street. Over the years the Clubs grew in stature, membership and facilities. So much that in 1963, Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez presented then President John F. Kennedy with a gavel and handmade box created by members in their local woodworking shop. In 1976, girls were invited to become members and the name of the Clubs was officially changed in 1991 to Boys and Girls Clubs of San Antonio. It was also in 1991, that President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush visited the Clubs and extended them the honor of recognition as a “Point of Light.”
Through the decades the programming and facilities have improved, but the mission has remained essentially the same. The Boys and Girls Clubs of San Antonio provides a fun, safe place full of age appropriate activities and opportunities. The mission is “inspire youth, especially those who need us most, to achieve their full potential in a safe, positive, and engaging environment that promotes education, health, and character development.” Through the professional staff, thriving facilities, dynamic volunteers, and strong links to the community, the clubs provide professionally designed youth development programs.
Today, the Clubs serve 8,500 members, ages 6-18 years old, annually from 6 Clubhouses in the city of San Antonio and 37 on-site school locations in the San Antonio and Harlandale Independent School Districts. On an average afternoon, #OFYOUTH youth receive services as part of our after school program. Membership is open to all children in San Antonio for nominal annual membership dues ($50/yr). No child is turned away due to an inability to pay. The majority of Club members are minority children (93%), from single parent homes (more than 50%), who receive free or reduced-price lunch (80%).
In 2011, BGCSA adopted the national movement’s Formula for Impact to ensure that Great Futures Start Here. The Formula for Impact is young people who need us the most plus an outcome-driven Club Experience which includes the Five Key Elements for Positive Youth Development (1. A Safe, positive environment; 2. Fun; 3. Supportive relationships; 4. Opportunities and expectations; and 5. Recognition), High Yield Activities, Targeted Programs and Regular Attendance equals our priority outcomes of Academic Success, Good Character & Citizenship, and Healthy Lifestyles.
The programs offered are in our five core values that include Character & Leadership Development, Education & Career Development, Health & Life Skills, The Arts, and Sports, Fitness & Recreation. These core programs are supplemented by mentoring – adult and peer, substance abuse prevention, and technology training. Counseling and referral services are also available on an as needed basis. At the clubs, the children are surrounded by concerned and caring staff and volunteers who inspire and enable them to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.
Our impact is undeniable:
99% of members stayed in school and successfully progress to the next grade level
97% of regularly attending high school seniors pursued higher education or military service
99% improved their grades in basic skills courses (math, science, reading)
Funding for the clubs comes from corporations, foundations, federal and city governments, school districts, special fundraising events, United Way, and individual donors.