The Boys & Girls Clubs movement began in the 1860’s in Hartford, Connecticut. Like many American cities of the time, Hartford had been transformed by the Industrial Revolution, and in order to make a living, adults often worked 12 hour days and six days a week. This left the children to their own devices, which meant juvenile chaos reigned. A group of local women took it upon themselves to remedy the situation and thus was born the Dashaway Club, a safe place for boys to go after school and on weekends, where they could engage in wholesome pastimes.
As word of the success of this club spread, other cities copied the model; New York was the first to call it a Boys Club, and even though girls had been attending for years, it did not become the Boys & Girls Club until 1990. Today there are more than 4,100 clubs nationally, serving four million kids. Staff and volunteers number in the hundreds of thousands; all are dedicated to shaping these otherwise underprivileged kids into responsible, caring adults. For them it’s not a job, but a calling.
The Club came to Austin in 1967 and over the years it has been guided by some of the most prominent members of our community. Today, we are Austin’s leading youth development agency, serving nearly 12,000 kids at neighborhood clubs, high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. Each day, kids are exposed to dozens of life enhancing programs that enrich them both academically and socially. It’s been proven that kids who are engaged in meaningful, supervised activities while not in school have better school attendance, make better grades, are more likely to attend college, and have successful, productive lives. More than a safe haven for kids at risk, the Clubs are daily examples of how good life can be as they nurture, inspire and celebrate the limitless potential of our young people. Through the Clubs, kids are given the tools and opportunities to create their own destinies.
And it’s being noticed: Newsweek calls the Boys & Girls Clubs the most successful youth development movement in America today.