Each month, we’ll be sharing stories of Grubhub Community Relief Fund beneficiaries, highlighting how they are using their grants to positively impact their communities. This month, we’re spotlighting Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which provides after school programs for children across the country. In this Q&A, President and CEO Jim Clark shares how the grants have helped their Clubs serve the kids of essential workers during the pandemic.
Introduce yourself and tell us about the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. How and when were the Boys & Girls Clubs started and what are your goals?
My name is Jim Clark and I’m the President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Boys & Girls Clubs of America was founded in 1860 by three women in Hartford, Connecticut who believed that boys who roamed the streets should have a positive alternative. For 160 years our mission has been to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential. Today, more than 4,700 Clubs serve 4.6 million kids and teens annually.
Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing, on Native lands throughout the country, and on U.S. military installations across the globe. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs during critical non-school hours.
Clubs do whatever it takes to build great futures for kids and teens, particularly in our three priority impact areas of academic success, healthy lifestyles and good character and leadership.
Boys & Girls Clubs are located all over the country. How has COVID-19 affected your organization and all of the communities you serve?
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us all in unprecedented ways. Boys & Girls Clubs have been there for the people they serve throughout it all, supporting their communities through and beyond the pandemic. This couldn’t be possible without financial support from partners and supporters like Grubhub.
Kids, families and communities have had to adapt to new and changing circumstances — sometimes daily. Boys & Girls Clubs are providing a continuum of care that keeps kids and teens connected to their support systems and gives parents and caregivers the resources they need to navigate this crisis. On the ground, Clubs have been distributing meals to fight food insecurity, providing safe spaces for the kids of essential workers, and keeping youth engaged and learning through virtual programming.
How has the support from the Grubhub Community Relief Fund helped your organization and those you serve during this time?
Thanks to the generous support from the Grubhub Community Relief Fund, we were able to help 45 Clubs open their doors as safely and quickly as possible to serve the kids of essential workers at the height of the pandemic. Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago was one of those Club locations, giving youth a safe, supportive place during a period of rising violence. Halfway across the country, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles used the funds to implement responsive programming that helped keep kids physically and mentally healthy. Your support and the Grubhub Community Relief Fund made all this resilience and adaptation possible for Clubs that together, serve thousands of kids and teens.
Is there anything you would like to share with our diners who have supported the GCRF by donating their change?
First, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Grubhub for their partnership and dedication to our mission. Because of partners like you, we can continue providing much needed services to kids, families and communities counting on us. I also want to give a BIG thank you to the diners and their donations. Please know, every dollar counts! Your support, no matter the amount, enables kids and teens to reach their full potential as the leaders, innovators and problem-solvers who will shape our world.
Is there anything we didn’t ask that you would like to share?
What struck me, time and time again, were the stories of kids/teen members of Boys & Girls Clubs along with their families that had nowhere to turn for help during the COVID-19 crisis. In many communities, normal lifelines and resources weren’t available—but the Boys & Girls Club was, and it was the beacon in neighborhoods that proved essential. Signs appeared with messages of hope, and doors opened for meals and to pick up food. Clubs became the lifeline that was missing in so many places. There’s no way to fully express the gratitude for what Grubhub did….I’ll start with thank you, but, seeing the happiness in the eyes of the kids probably does a better job than words.
Just one little note – as you are setting your 2021 resolutions or intentions, I ask that you keep Boys & Girls Clubs in mind. As job and school disruptions continue, our young people need the support of their local Club now more than ever. Please visit www.bgca.org to learn more about how you can support great futures. Thank you!