Our Programs

Academic Success Programs

Power Hour - Power Hour is Boys & Girls of America’s homework help and tutoring program targeting members aged six to 18 years. The goal of Power Hour is to increase academic success to better prepare Club members to enter the workforce and high-education institutions with the skills needed to compete globally. Until recently the program’s focus was homework completion and assistance; however, as the learning landscape and needs of young people have changed, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) employed a team of education professionals to “recharge” the Power Hour curriculum. The goal of this new program is to develop young people at Boys & Girls Clubs all across America as 21st Century Learners, cultivate skills necessary to succeed post-school and become competitive in today’s global marketplace.

Science Club - In partnership with Northwestern University’s Science and Society Department and Dr. Michael Kennedy, True Value and Pedersen-McCormick Clubs offer twice-weekly Science Club (Middle and High school) and Junior Science Club (Elementary) programming. This program is the only one of its kind in the country and is nationally recognized. The success of the program can be attributed to the outstanding science curriculum, mentorship model, and frequency and consistency of implementation. Northwestern graduate students volunteer with the program for at least one year committing to weekly sessions with two youth each. This low mentor-mentee ratio allows for a high caliber of content and in-depth study. Junior Science Club explores all scientific fields, including biology, chemistry, engineering, and physics, and teaches kids the basic skills needed to be an observant and curious scientist. After graduating from Junior Science Club, kids have the opportunity to join the larger Science Club program.

DIY STEM - DIY STEM is an activity-based program for nine - 12-year-olds to help them make connections between scientific principles and real-world applications. The DIY STEM program can be implemented in its entirety or as separate units. The five units of STEM topics are: energy and electricity, engineering design, food chemistry, intro to aeronautics, and the science of sports. Through BGCC’s STEM program, BGCC promotes interest in and awareness of science, technology, engineering and math among traditionally underserved groups. 

STEM-related skills are not just a source of a job, but a source of a job that pays well. Many of those jobs are going unfilled despite the lucrative potential because of the lack of concentration on these subjects in school and loss of interest from youth. The lack of interest in STEM subjects is linked to poorer communities and can start at a very young age; studies show that as early as fourth grade, 33 percent of students already show a negative attitude towards science. Exposure to STEM is critical during the teen years when Club members’ natural curiosity drives interest and builds capacity for success in these disciplines. This is the ideal time to engage Club members who might otherwise not have access to STEM experiences.

My.Future - My.Future is a mobile-friendly social platform with program activities in areas such as STEM, leadership and the arts. With My.Future, kids and teens can learn new skills, connect with their friends, and earn recognition and rewards in a safe and fun online environment. Members complete one or more 45-minute activities to earn digital badges and can share their completed projects with the online My.Future community. Currently, youth can earn badges in Digital Literacy Essentials, Media Making, Computer Science, Leadership, Visual Arts, and Lyricism101.

Summer Camp - BGCC’s annual summer camps is a six to eight-week program that gives more than 1,500 children daily a safe place to go during the summer months. For many families, summer camp can be out of reach due to high costs. BGCC offers an affordable camp option (even making it free to families that can’t afford the reduced cost) that’s not only fun, but offers educational activities and adventures to expand BGCC members’ horizons. Additionally, the kids that seek out the Club programs are those at greatest risk to suffer from summer learning loss. Studies show that most low-income youth lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation and reading skills over the summer months. BGCC’s summer programs combat that learning loss by engaging youth in learning through discovery, creative expression and collaborative group work.

Healthy Lifestyles Programs

Triple Play: A Game Plan for Mind, Body, and Soul - Triple Play strives to improve the overall health of Club members by increasing their daily physical activity, teaching them good nutrition, and helping them develop healthy relationships. The curriculum for Triple Play was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services. The three components of Triple Play are:

  • Mind: The Healthy Habits program is designed to incorporate healthy living and active learning in every part of the Club experience, from the gym to the learning center to the arts and crafts room. The central themes of good nutrition, regular physical activity and improving overall well-being are emphasized.
  • Body: This component boosts Clubs’ physical activities to a higher level by providing sports and fitness programs, activities and sports competitions for all boys and girls, whether they are athletically inclined or not. Club youth of every age have the chance to have fun playing longer and harder at a variety of games. Sports and recreational activities also provide a positive, structured outlet for feelings of aggression, reducing the tendency toward negative behaviors while encouraging constructive peer interactions and conflict resolution techniques.
  • Soul: By participating in a comprehensive social recreation program, Club youth are able to develop and sustain positive relationships with others, acquire a healthy self-concept and a strong belief in their self-worth and cope well with positive and adverse situations

Swimming Lessons - Three of BGCC’s Clubs offer swimming classes and a swim team to all members. The staff teaches classes from basic swimming to water safety and stroke mechanics. BGCC is proud to offer these opportunities to youth so that they may incorporate swimming into their healthful lifestyles and model lifelong safe behaviors in and around bodies of water.

Games Room and Open Gym - The games room is the heart of every Club. This central, welcoming space is a program area where all youth can have fun and play together. Teen Club members host games tournaments practicing good sportsmanship and cooperation, and younger members modify games such as ping pong, billiards, and bumper pool to fit their interests and abilities. Club staff strategically use the game room to help members develop life skills. For example, to foster teambuilding, younger members use billiards to play “Hot Potato.” Open gym is also key to the success of BGCC’s Clubs. When not in use for organized team sports and activities, open gym is a time for youth to be creative and play together no matter their skill level. The gym is especially vital as few Clubs have outdoor recreation space and many schools do not regularly offer gym class or sports opportunities.

Character & Leadership Programs

Keystone/Torch Clubs - In these chartered, small-group leadership and service clubs for boys and girls aged 11 to 18, youth plan and implement their own club and civic service projects. This program has a rich tradition of instilling leadership skills and responsibility among older Club members. Each Keystone/Torch Club has bylaws, officers, elections, and weekly meetings.

Youth of the Year - Youth of the Year is BGCC’s premier annual recognition program that celebrates members’ involvement and contributions to their respective Clubs as well as their academic performance. Each Club annually selects a Youth of the Year (between ages 14-18) and Junior Youth of the Year(between ages 11-13). BGCC’s Youth of the Year Competition & Dinner is now Chicago’s signature Youth Development fundraising event attended by over 1,000 people, receiving broad media coverage. Winners write essays and speak publicly to support their nomination for the Chicago Youth of the Year. The winner then participates in regional and national Youth of the Year competitions to win scholarships.

Passport to Manhood - Passport to Manhood is a program designed to teach adolescent males aged 11 to17 positive health, fitness, and behavioral information they need as they transition into adulthood. Passport to Manhood is a rite of passage program designed to guide boys on their journey to manhood, supporting them as they begin to let go of adolescent ways of thinking and acting, face various challenges that call their strength and resilience and consciously adopt the attitudes and behaviors of adulthood.

SMART Girls - SMART Girls offers young women – ages eight to 17 – guidance toward healthy attitudes and lifestyles, eating right, staying fit, getting good health care, and more. Through dynamic sessions, group activities, field trips and mentoring opportunities, Club girls enjoy the opportunity to build skills for their future and developing positive relationships.

Employment Program - BGCC offers an Employment Program for qualifying teen members. The goal of the program is to provide workforce development services to teens, including job readiness training, career development, internships, drop-out prevention services, and leadership development. Over the past ten years, BGCC has placed more than 700 teen members in employment, post-secondary education, internships, and training opportunities through this program.