Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands (BGCM) received an Honor Award for Program Excellence in Education and Career Development at Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 111th National Conference held recently in Dallas. The organization received a $5,000 award from MetLife Foundation, sponsor of the annual recognition program, which honors local Clubs for innovative, effective programming leading youth to great futures.
The Honor Award for Program Excellence is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s (BGCA) most coveted and prestigious award. It is presented to a club that enables young people to become proficient in basic educational disciplines, set goals, explore careers, prepare for employment, and embrace technology to achieve success in a career. The Westside Boys & Girls Club was highlighted due to having the most participants.
Ivan Gilreath, President and CEO of BGCM had a vision when he joined Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands back in 2012. He wanted to provide an afterschool reading program to give youth the opportunity to be at or above grade level in reading by the end of third grade. Research confirms that being able to read proficiently by the end of third grade is one of the best indicators of on-time high school graduation.
From this vision, Readers to Leaders was created. Julie Frizzell, Reading Program Director, joined BGCM in the spring of 2012. From that time, over 3,000 members have participated in Readers to Leaders. Ms. Frizzell explains, “We are able to offer an instructional, research-based program that adapts to each child’s level for our younger members (6-8) and a research-based supplemental program for our 9-12 year olds. Our goals are very clear. We want youth to develop a love of reading, improve fluency and comprehension, and be held accountable for reaching their goals. We want members to graduate on time with a plan for their future.”
BGCM’s members know that participation in Readers to Leaders and reaching their reading goal equals exciting fieldtrips to places like Fun-Plex, Amazing Pizza Machine or a night in the Safari Grasslands at the zoo.
So many people are involved in making sure Readers to Leaders touches the lives of members. BGCM would not have the outcomes and impact they see without dedicated Youth Development Professionals, volunteers, and support from the community.
“In communities nationwide, Boys & Girls Clubs play a vital role in providing young people with safe places to learn and grow,” said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “We are pleased to recognize Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands for providing exemplary programs and making a positive difference in the lives of local young people.”
Club members who reach their reading goals are awarded with exciting fieldtrips to places such as The Amazing Pizza Machine, Family Fun Center XL, and Fun-Plex.