Boys & Girls Clubs of America has a rich tradition of developing good character in youth through service. Clubs provide opportunities for youth to identify relevant issues and construct meaningful service activities to address them. When young people learn to give back, they develop their capacity for compassion and trust, and increase their feelings of connectedness. They are also empowered by the positive changes they make by serving others.
Clubs use service opportunities to help youth gain a basic understanding of civic responsibility and civility. By learning about citizenship and contributing through service, young people develop pride in their communities, and understand the importance of civic responsibility. By combining civics education and volunteer service, Clubs help young people become productive, caring, responsible citizens.
To inspire service throughout the year, Boys & Girls Clubs of America created the “Year of Service” campaign. This campaign elevates the importance of service, provides fun and engaging volunteer opportunities, and challenges young people to plan and implement service projects to positively change their communities. Right now, Club members are participating in BGCA partner Nickelodeon’s “The Big Help” campaign by planning a variety of projects to improve the environment. Nickelodeon’s on-air talent helps generate excitement and inspires young people to serve. As a result, youth are planting trees and gardens, coordinating recycling and energy conservation projects, and cleaning beaches and green spaces in communities across the country and on military bases overseas.
And because we know how critical positive affirmation is for young people, we recognize their service contributions. For example, Nickelodeon acknowledges the service of Club youth through online and on-air shoutouts. Another critical partner, Points of Light Foundation, provides opportunities for Clubs to formally recognize youth volunteers through the prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award. The award program encourages long-term service, and bestows bronze, silver and gold recognition to young people who complete increasing amounts of volunteer service. Each recipient receives a congratulatory letter signed by the President of the United States.
Romero Brown serves as BGCA's Vice President, Program & Youth Development Services.
This dual approach – inspiring youth to serve and recognizing their contributions – has been remarkably successful. In the past year, some 167,000 Club youth have provided more than 1 million hours of volunteer service. This equates to more than $11 million dollars in economic impact to local communities.
Our Year of Service campaign is helping to start great futures for young people. By engaging thousands of children and teens in service, we are inspiring a generation of civically-engaged youth and making our nation stronger.