Nonprofit Spotlight – Boys and Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania

by | March 23, 2022 | News | 0 comments

“As we recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, BGCWPA’s Bold Plays Strategic Plan charges us with reaffirming our commitment to uplifting the voices of the children, teenagers, and young adults who participate in our programs and services, telling the story of our transformation, engaging the families of the youth we serve, and expanding our services to more communities in our region. BGCWPA welcomes collaboration and partnerships to maximize our impact.”

– Dr. Lisa Palmieri, PhD, President and CEO

In the wake of COVID-19 closure orders, Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania (BGCWPA) listened to families to determine a course of action to meet the needs of the more than 10,000 youths it serves across its 12 Clubhouses, virtually and in ten other community-based sites in Allegheny and Somerset Counties. Staff heard from parents concerned about their children who were experiencing depression and who could no longer gather and learn with friends, and from families that couldn’t find or afford essential supplies like toilet paper, food staples, or face masks.

In response, BCGWPA created Club on the Go, a mobile service that delivered these items plus portable versions of BGCWPA’s programs and services to more than 5,000 families, thanks to partners like Lowes, rue21, Artsmiths, Sarris Candies, and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. 

BGCWPA’s locations served as Learning Hubs, transforming the Clubhouses into safe in-person learning centers where students could go for online school and be supervised by staff while parents worked. Most of these hubs provide 13 hours of caring daily for students, which enabled their parents – many of whom were front-line workers – to keep their jobs while their children received academic enrichment and support. More than 650 students participated.

BGCWPA co-led the Pittsburgh Learning Collaborative Family Hotline, a partnership with A+ Schools and several other community organizations to ensure access to computers and Internet service as well as tutoring and childcare.  Now, with children back in school, Clubhouses are offering their normal programming, while still providing the extras. Instead of just a club where kids go, it also became the Club Where You Live.

Cases are decreasing and communities are reconnecting, but the pandemic has prompted a transformation for Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania. While still providing the recreational activities that the organization is known for, BGCWPA has worked with the PA Department of Human Services to license 8 of its stand-alone Clubhouses and school-based sites. Their new Bold Plays Strategic Plan sits atop 4 pillars: Equity, Family Engagement, Story/Brand Awareness, and Organizational Stability/Community Expansion with the goal that they build stronger relationships with families and can be a trusted voice to advocate for them. In the last few years, the organization has adapted to meet the needs of the region’s youth:

  • Career Works programming helps prepare the next generation of leaders for careers in emerging fields with family-sustaining wages and offers internships. The organization became one of only ten Boys & Girls Clubs out of more than 1600  nationwide to receive federal funding from the Youth Workforce Readiness Act.
  • Its STEM programming provides youth with early exposure to robotics and artificial intelligence and empower young people to earn certifications in these fields. BGCWPA is serving as the Computer Science for PGH (CsforPgh) co-lead at the Remake Learning Network.
  • BGCWPA opened 3 licensed, quality preschool programs in Lawrenceville, Carnegie, and Somerset for young children ages 3-5. The Great Start Preschool Program and our afterschool programs earned a GOLD Champion Pennsylvania Equity in Early Childhood Education Award from the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL).
  • BGCWPA’s The Club teen programming provides a safe space for teens to learn, thrive, and grow, which has become increasingly critical as teenagers navigate the mental health crisis exacerbated by the pandemic. The organization is a founding member of the Jewish Health Care Foundation’s Teen Mental Health Collaborative.
  • BGCWPA is committed to providing critical literacy programming to youth at all of its Clubhouse locations and utilizes adaptive software to create personalized support for youth. The organization serves as the lead of the Pittsburgh Learning Collaborative’s Literacy Working Group.

Consider the following opportunities with BCGWPA:

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