The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County (BGCDC) plans to spend $572,500 this summer to support Dane County’s youth through extensive and focused programming in both of its clubs and throughout the community, BGCDC Michael Johnson announced at a press conference today.
Concerns for youth and teen engagement and safety have become more critical in recent months as Dane County, particularly the City of Madison, has seen a sharp rise in gun violence. Johnson announced the plans and commitment to invest over half a million dollars in employment, internships, summer camps, healthy meals, weekly field trips, the Gilbert Brown Foundation’s summer football camp, Badges for Baseball, a reading challenge, music, swim lessons and more (listed below).
“We are also going to host the largest back to school event in the history of this city,” Johnson told the crowd of the party that is beeing planned for late August in Elver Park on Madison’s west side. “Last year, we gave away more than 2,500 backpacks. This year, it will be somewhere around 3,000 and we are also going to organize a 3-on-3 citywide basketball tournament.”
Kevin Metcalfe, co-owner of Metcalfe’s Market, discussed Metcalfe’s involvement with BGCDC over the years and presented an enlarged check to the club to support the back to school event.
“We’re proud to present a check to the Boys and Girls Club for $4,500,” he said. “As Michael mentioned, this has become the largest back to school event in the city’s history and we’re proud to ensure that local students receive books and school supplies before school starts.”
Craig Parsons, president of Palmer Johnson Power Systems, discussed PJ Power’s commitment and investment to support the Boys and Girls Club and presented a $20,000 oversized check to Johnson to support the summer programming.
Members of the Madison365 Academy Summer Program, a partnership between Madison365 and the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County to recruit and train the next generation of journalists of color, were in attendance at the event.
“We are thankful for our business community, our parents and our partners through Madison365,” Johnson told the crowd. “The young people you see today in these Madison365 t-shirts are really reflective of what our newsrooms should look like and we want to give them an opportunity to learn about journalism and we want their voices to be heard.”
Madison365 CEO Henry Sanders said that Madison365 is an outlet that focuses on communities of color and writing stories from the perspective of people of color. “Another part of our mission is creating journalists of color. When we first started, everybody was telling us that it couldn’t happen and we can’t make it because we can’t find people of color who are interested in it,” Sanders said. “We did not accept that. Right away, we said, ‘Let’s create our own academy. Let’s create something that actually builds a platform.’”
The mission of the BGCDC is to be a leader in youth development programs by developing partnerships to produce positive outcomes for young people, families, and communities. Parents and grandparents of Boys and Girls Club kids took turns talking about the importance of summer programming for the kids and why they liked the Boys and Girls Club.
“The Boys and Girls Club has been so amazing to me,” said Sadie Pearson, longtime beloved Madison south side resident and community activist. “When the Boys and Girls Club first started, my grandchildren were involved in it and my kids. I’m just so excited that now that I am still here and I volunteer and I always come and check on things … but the most important thing is that I have great grandchildren who come here. I just want you all to keep on continuing to support the Boys and Girls Club because it is really needed.”