Giving young people the freedom and space to learn, grow, and have fun is paramount to the childhood experience. That’s why Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) is a crucial lifeline for kids in so many communities.

Lincoln Strategy Group’s principal, Chuck Coolidge, serves on the board of a local BGCA, and it’s an experience that he deeply treasures. Not only do the clubs provide a haven for kids after school, but many of them also offer academic enrichment, healthy food, and the opportunity to learn useful skills like teamwork, collaboration, and even gardening.

Boys and Girls Club

Boys and Girls Club members in Virginia.
Photo: Virginia State Park, via Flickr.

The kind of tenacity and self-reliance that BGCA teaches its young members lasts a lifetime. Just ask notable alumni who include four-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington, Grammy Award-winning singer Jennifer Lopez, and Misty Copeland, the principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. Speaking about her BGCA experience, Copeland said, “For the first time I had an outlet for this creativity I was feeling. It was a whole new world.”

Boys & Girls Clubs of America achieves its mission of serving youth by emphasizing core requirements that support a positive environment. Those specific areas include enabling all young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens.

Contributing to the success of the BGCA programs is its commitment for more than a century to putting young people on the path to great futures. Currently, nearly 4,000 Clubs serve upwards of 4.1 million young people through membership and community outreach. In its 2015 Philanthropy 400 report, The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked Boys & Girls Clubs of America as number 18 among all nonprofit organizations.

Boys and Girls Clubs Bird

Members of the Boys and Girls Club go birdwatching.
Photo: Beverly Skinner, USFWS via Flickr

Many of the Clubs encourage its young members to volunteer in their community. According to the BGCA website, studies show that “young people who engage in service do better in school, maintain positive relationships with adults and avoid risky behaviors. Through its ‘Million Members, Million Hours of Service,’ the Boys & Girls Clubs increase the number of youth participating in volunteer and service projects to 1 million members each donating at least one hour of service in a single year.”

With a core value of service and an emphasis on volunteering in one’s community, Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a charity that Lincoln Strategy Group loves.