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Character & Leadership Development

Youth of the Year
Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier youth recognition program for Club members. All members can benefit from participation in this program, which promotes and celebrates service to Club, community and family; academic performance; moral character; life goals; and poise and public speaking ability. The Youth of the Year program is most effective when used as a year-round tool for fostering young people’s character, personal growth and leadership qualities. Our local Clubs recognize members ages 14-18 who were Youths of the Month and select a Youth of the Year, who then participates in state competition. State winners participate in regional competition. Five regional winners advance to compete on a national level. The National Youth of the Year receives an additional $10,000 scholarship and is installed by the President of the United States.

Torch Club
Torch Clubs are chartered small-group leadership and service clubs for boys and girls ages 11-13. A Torch Club is a powerful vehicle through which Club staff can help meet the special character development needs of younger adolescents at a critical stage in their development. Torch Club members learn to elect officers and work together to implement activities in four areas: service to Club and community, education, health and fitness and social recreation. The Staples National Torch Club Awards are presented annually to Torch Clubs with outstanding programs and activities in the four areas. Each year, Torch Club members from all over the country take part in a service-learning experience through the National Torch Club Project. Staples Foundation for Learning, Inc. and Staples, Inc. sponsor the Torch Club program.

Teen Supreme Keystone Club
Keystone Club is the Boys & Girls Club Movement’s most dynamic teen program. Keystone Clubs are chartered leadership and service clubs for boys and girls ages 14-18. Keystoners elect officers and implement activities in six areas: service to Club and community, character and leadership development, education and career exploration, unity, free enterprise and social recreation. Keystone Club members and their advisors can be nominated to steering committees that organize regional and national TEEN Supreme Keystone Conferences attended by thousands of Keystoners each year. TEEN Supreme Keystone Club Awards are bestowed annually on Keystone Clubs that implement programs and activities that best promote the Keystoning principles. Each year, Keystoners develop a National TEEN Supreme Keystone Project. The combined action of hundreds of local Keystone Clubs results in a service project with a national scope. Taco Bell Foundation sponsors the national Keystone Club program as part of the multi-year TEEN Supreme initiative, a strategic partnership between the foundation and BGCA that equips Clubs with the tools and resources to create a positive place for teens as well as for kids. TEEN Supreme is a registered trademark of the Taco Bell Foundation.

Goals for Growth
Goals for Growth teaches Club members ages 8-12 skills for setting and achieving goals, helps them identify their own strengths and enhances their self-esteem by reinforcing their progress and recognizing their success in realizing their goals. Members set goals in six areas: Club involvement; discovery of new knowledge, skills or pastimes; service to others; school improvement; personal improvement and career awareness.

Moral Compass
Character development has been identified as a major area of emphasis in our Movement’s strategic plan for the next five years. To support this, BGCA provided Clubs with a beautiful poster celebrating and promoting character development. Entitled “Blueprint for a Moral Compass,” the poster describes what a Club looks like when it makes character development a cornerstone of its philosophy and programs. BGCA encourages all Clubs to continue using the poster to reinforce the importance of character development with members, their families, staff and volunteers.

Education & Career Development

Project Learn
Project Learn reinforces and enhances the skills and knowledge young people learn at school during the hours they spend at the Club. This comprehensive strategy is based on Dr. Reginald Clark’s research showing that students do much better in school when they spend their non-school hours engaged in fun, educational activities. Through Project Learn, Club staff use all the areas and programs in the Club to create opportunities for these high-yield learning activities, which include leisure reading, writing activities, discussions with knowledgeable adults, helping others, homework help and tutoring, games like Scrabble that develop young people’s cognitive skills, and incentives to reward Club members for positive academic participation. Project Learn also emphasizes parent involvement and collaboration between Club and school professionals as critical factors in creating the best after-school learning environment for Club members ages 6-18. Extensively field-tested and formally evaluated by Columbia University with funding from Carnegie Corporation of New York, Project Learn has been proven to boost the academic performance of Club members. The JCPenney After School Fund underwrote the initial implementation of this educational enhancement approach in Clubs across the nation.


Power Hour
Sharpen your pencils and get ready for the revamped Power Hour: Making Minutes Count. The program provides Club professionals with strategies, activities, resources and information to create an engaging homework help and tutoring program that encourages Club members ages 6-12 and 13-18 to become self-directed learners. The JCPenney After School Fund sponsors Power Hour: Making Minutes Count.


Money Matters: Make It Count
Money Matters promotes financial responsibility and independence among Club members ages 13-18 by building their basic money management skills. Participants learn how to manage a checking account, budget, save and invest. They also learn about starting small businesses and paying for college. Money Matters features three components. The Teen Personal Finance Guide is a fun, attractive booklet containing practical tips and activities to help teens learn the important skills of balancing a checkbook, creating a budget and saving and investing for college and retirement. The Facilitator’s Guide provides Club staff and volunteers with basic financial information and instructions for easy-to-implement small-group activities. The Money Matters Web site, http://moneymatters.bgca.net, offers teens an engaging online tool for building their money management knowledge and skills through interactive activities, games and tools like a savings and financial aid calculator to plan for college. The Charles Schwab Foundation sponsors Money Matters: Make It Count.

Career Launch
Career launch encourages Club members ages 13-18 to assess their skills and interests, explore careers, make sound educational decisions and prepare to join our nation’s ever-changing work force. Club staff or volunteers can use the Career Exploration Quick Reference Guide to work with teens individually or in small groups to build their job-search skills and job readiness. Career Launch Teen Tips is an easy-to-read, pocket-sized booklet for teens full of practical job-hunting advice that comes with an attractive portfolio for storing resumes, job applications and other job-hunting documents. The dynamic Career Launch Web site, provides Club teens, staff and volunteers with online career exploration and college and job search information and interactive activities. Mentoring and job shadowing opportunities for Club teens and training for Club staff round out the program. The Gap Foundation sponsors Career Launch.

JOB READY! prepares Club members ages 16-18 with specific skills to secure employment and be successful in the world of work. Using the comprehensive program materials and assessment tools that JOB READY! provides, Club staff can tailor the program to meet their members particular needs. Teens learn how to identify job opportunities, write effective resumes, perform well in interviews, dress appropriately, develop good work habits and get along well with others in the workplace. The Taco Bell Foundation provided funding for the development of the program.

Junior Staff Career Development
Junior Staff Career Development is a comprehensive small-group program designed to guide youth toward careers in youth development or human services by nurturing their leadership skills and providing guided, practical experiences. While a career in human service may not be appropriate for all Boys & Girls Club members, staff will at a minimum guide the development of interested and concerned youth toward volunteer involvement in community service activities. The manual also includes information on the CLUB Service and Leaders in Training programs, bringing all Club-based volunteerism programs together in one cohesive resource.   

Health & Life Skills

This nationally acclaimed comprehensive prevention program helps young people resist alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, as well as premature sexual activity. The program features engaging, interactive small group activities designed to increase participants’ peer support, enhance their life skills, build their resiliency and strengthen their leadership skills. This year-round program encourages collaborations among Club staff, youth, parents and representatives from other community organizations. The program’s components include: SMART Kids, for children ages 6-9, Start SMART, for youth ages 10-12, Stay SMART, for youth ages 13-15 and SMART Parents, for parents of Club members participating in SMART Moves. The recent updating and revision of SMART Moves was made possible through funding from the DeWitt Wallace – Reader’s Digest Fund.



An outgrowth of the popular SMART Moves program, SMART Girls is a health, fitness, prevention/education and self-esteem enhancement program for girls ages 8-17. The program focuses on issues specific to female Club members and is designed to encourage healthy attitudes and lifestyles that will enable those members to develop to their full potential. From interactive role playing to more tailored mentoring, girls are given the opportunity to explore personal and societal values as they build skills for eating right, staying fit, getting good health care and developing positive relationships. The current version of SMART Girls was funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Passport to Manhood
This program promotes and teaches responsibility and reinforces positive behavior in male Club members ages 11-14. Passport to Manhood consists of 14 small-group sessions, each of which concentrates on a specific aspect of manhood through highly interactive activities. Each participant is issued his own “Passport” to underscore the notion that he is on a personal journey of maturation and personal growth. The curriculum is an excellent complement to SMART Girls.

Street SMART
Street SMART counteracts the negative lures of gangs, violence and “street” influences on young adolescents ages 11-13. While building awareness and resistance skills, participants develop the confidence and knowledge to make intelligent choices. Street SMART’s three modules teach young people how gangs work and how to resist being recruited, how to recognize and resolve conflicts peacefully and how to become positive peer helpers. Participants reinforce what they have learned and share it with others by organizing community events that promote the positive messages of Street SMART. The Street SMART program is sponsored by THE ALLSTATE FOUNDATION.

Triple Play Plus
This program challenges members to become healthy and active by learning new ways to eat nutritionally, manage stress, and maintain physical fitness. TPP takes the holistic route to touch our members Mind, Body, and Soul. It is intended to increase the number of hours per day that Club members participate in physical activities; and strengthen their ability to interact positively with others and engage in healthy realtionships.

The Arts

Fine Arts Exhibit Program 

This year-round program encourages artistic expression among Club members aged 6-18 through drawing, painting, print making, collage, mixed media and sculpture displayed at local and regional exhibits. A panel of distinguished judges selects works for inclusion in the National Fine Arts Exhibit, which debuts at Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Conference and is displayed throughout the ensuing year.     

Lyricism 101   

 Recognizing the power of the literary arts, Lyricism 101 positions Club members as torchbearers and experts in the ancient oral poetic traditions that continue to thrive around the world. The program gives teens an opportunity to tell their stories, build community and express their artistic visions through the music of hip-hop culture and the culture of the cipher.     




Technology-Club Tech

Skill Tech II 
Skill Tech II focuses on developing specific, age-appropriate technology skills, with an emphasis on computer hardware, networking and the Internet. It is designed to teach advanced, yet practical technology skills to Club members aged 6 to 18, and features three eight-session programs, one for each age group: 6-9, 10-13 and 14-18. 

Core Tech
Core Tech is a collection of five guides filled with technology-related activities that Club staff from each Core Program Area can use with members. Each guide contains activities for incorporating technology into one Core Program Area, along with reference guides for the software applications needed to complete them.  

T3-Teen Tech Teams
T3, pronounced “T-cubed” and short for “Teen Tech Teams,” is a small-group club program for teens interested in technology, career exploration and community service. T3 members assist staff and other Club members in the technology center, run Club help desks, learn about high-tech careers and implement annual projects that use technology to better the Club or community; all while developing their own advanced computing skills. Teen Tech Teams are open to all Boys & Girls Club members ages 12-18. 

Youth Net
Youth Net is a secure intranet for Boys & Girls Club members dedicated to promoting youth development outcomes; fostering inter-Club collaboration; expanding Club resources; and empowering youth as content developers and monitors of their online community. 

NetSmartz, a comprehensive program from BGCA and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, teaches members Internet safety skills through engaging multimedia activities and offline interaction with Club professionals, in three age-appropriate modules: Clicky’s Web World for 6- to 7-year-olds, NetSmartz Rules for 8- to 12-year-olds and I-360 for 13- to 18-year-olds. 


Music Tech
Members explore a variety of digital music software applications and basic music theory. They learn to write sheet music, mix musical loops, and compose and record original songs. 

Boys & Girls Club has a partnership with Williford Elementary School who provided a location for a fully-functional MakerSpace lab called The FRAME Shop. Teens learn technology and design skills through the use of computers, 3-D printers, AxiDraw, and Cricut. They are learning creative problem-solving skills as they make things together. The FRAME Shop stands for “Fun Realistic Artistic Maker Environment.”