There's no secret handshake -- or specific gender -- required to get into this club, only the desire to have fun. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) runs after-school programs nationwide to give children and teenagers a safe and supervised environment. Operating through local affiliates, BGCA boasts some 4,000 locations that serve more than 4 million youth. Members engage in sports, recreation, and fitness activities, as well as in programs centered on character development, leadership, and life skills. BGCA alumni include Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Martin Sheen, Michael Jordan, and Queen Latifah. Founded in 1906, the organization traces its roots to 1860.
From its headquarters in Atlanta, BGCA supports children and teens nationwide through clubs located in cities, towns, public housing, and on Native American lands. It serves military families worldwide, as well, in BGCA-affiliated US youth centers.
As part of its operations, BGCA operates 3,985 chartered clubs. They include 1,314 in-school clubs, 392 BGCA-affiliated youth centers located on US military installations worldwide, 360 clubs in public housing, and 199 clubs situated on Native American lands.
Some of the services provided by the organization include education and career programs, character and leadership programs, health and life skills, arts programs, and sports, fitness, and recreation.
BGCA focuses on at-risk children to help them learn and grow so that they can change their lives and their surroundings. Aiming to make its programs affordable to all youth, BGCA maintains low dues rates that average $5 to $10 per year. BGCA serves some 140,000 Native American youth through more than 200 clubs.
Through the assistance of big-name companies, BGCA has the funds to support its clubs and communities. Typical partners include Coca-Cola, Comcast, Amway, Microsoft, and Taco Bell. In 2013 BGCA inked a three-year partnership with Fluor Corporation. One of the world's largest engineering, construction, and maintenance services companies, Fluor will assist in serving the nation's military youth and professionals on US military installations.