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Youth Success and Out-of-School Time Programming

by | Education, Youth Success

United Way believes that equal opportunity to succeed should extend beyond the academic year for every member of our Greater Chattanooga youth community. Supplemental out-of-school time programming is crucial for equipping our community’s youth for their futures. Through our community investment process, we partner with a number of local nonprofits and organizations that run these kinds of after-school and summer programs. Here’s a quick look at the impact we’ve made together in the past year.

A total of 12,882 members of the youth community participated in out-of-school time programs. 

The Boys and Girls Club of Chattanooga (B&GCCha) provides out-of-school time programming. 

Since 1955, the Boys and Girls Club of Chattanooga has been working to support at-risk children in our community and to prepare them for the future – even during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been working towards launching and running programs in Afterschool and Summer Enrichment for Children, Youth and Families. Effective out-of-school programs like this one boost academic performance, reduce risky behaviors while building character, promote health and provide a safe environment for children whose parents are not home after school or during the summer months. Methods of mentorship and continued learning have become more critical in the wake of COVID-19 crisis and school closures than ever before. We sat down with Boys and Girls Club staff to learn more about their vision for out-of-school time programming. 

What do you hope this programming does for the community? What is your goal?

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Chattanooga (B&GCCha) serve youth ages 6-18 in out-of-school and summer programs. Our mission is to enable all youth, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. Our hope is that our programs will create bright futures for our young people by giving at-risk inner-city youth access to activities that build character, leadership skills and a desire for educational engagement.

What does this programming mean for our community in terms of our current COVID-19 circumstances?

Our out-of-school and summer programs have a wide reach and great impact. Although we faced challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, we did not let that deter us from serving. We supported our community by providing almost 2,000 meals per day to over 900 local students. The Club kept in contact with its members enrolled in out-of-school programming by being actively engaged and connected via virtual programming. We also mentored 30 high school seniors, enabling them to complete their college enrollment. Through our partnership with United Way of Greater Chattanooga, the Club also administered 262 Restore Hope Fund grants for financial hardship due to COVID-19, totaling $178,535 of assistance. We also distributed over 3,000 masks and over 1,000 bottles of hand sanitizing solutions. We’re grateful that the connections forged with our club members during out-of-school programming allowed us to continue to support them and their families during the pandemic. 

What do you think are some of the biggest drivers of the issues that out-of-school time programs address? How do out-of-school time programs contribute to the solution?

B&GCCha takes pride in serving a diverse and underserved population in Chattanooga. We envision our out-of-school programming being beneficial to youth from the neighborhoods of Highland Park, East Chattanooga, East Lake and Alton Park. We offer both after-school and summer programming that is centered around B&GCCha’s three focus areas: Academic Success, Character and Leadership Development and Healthy Lifestyles. The families of our members struggle with significant economic hardships, educational attainment and generational poverty – this poverty cycle makes breaking out of poverty and attaining a good job much more challenging than it is for a middle or upper-class family. Through youth development programs, the B&GCCha has the potential to change the lives of teens and young adults. By improving the educational achievement for Chattanoogans residing in our most impoverished areas, we will combat the cycle of poverty and enhance job attainment for our fellow citizens living in underserved neighborhoods.

Out-of-school time programming contributes to long-term youth success. 
By bolstering in-school education and offering educational programming in whole-life areas, organizations like The Boys and Girls Club Chattanooga are equipping our youth for much more than a degree. Out-of-school programming is preparing youth for the job market, bolstering their leadership skills and personal confidence, teaching the importance of a healthy lifestyle and more. All of these factors work together to combat poverty and further the vision of both B&GCCha and United Way of Greater Chattanooga. Out-of-school programming helps to equip our youth community for success, regardless of their background or zip code. It gives them access to opportunities to thrive. You can learn more about the Boys and Girls Club of Chattanooga at https://www.bgccha.org/.