Napa teens find home at Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley

In a significant development for the Napa Valley community, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley (the Club) and the Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD) have forged a groundbreaking partnership for this Fall. On Thursday, June 22, The Napa Valley Unified School District’s Board of Trustees authorized the creation of a major partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley to expand programmatic and enrichment services to Napa area teens. This collaboration aims to extend crucial support and enrichment opportunities to high school students attending all Napa area high schools. The alliance underscores the commitment to empower youth and provide them with a platform for growth, development, and success. With many under the impression that the Clubs only serve little kids, some readers may be surprised by this news. In actuality, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley, which has been operating since the 1950s, has been serving Teens since its inception.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley has long been recognized for their invaluable contributions to the youth of the Napa Valley community. From academic support, workforce development, wellness initiatives to leadership development, the Clubs offer a comprehensive range of activities that cater exclusively to teenagers. Through programs like “Ready. Set. Work.” a workforce development initiative sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, the Club hosts monthly panel discussions through which industry leaders have been able to talk directly with teens about their own professional journeys. “We’ve hosted local professionals like wine makers, plumbers, marketing professionals, auto mechanics, and business owners who have offered employment opportunities and even internships to our teens,” said Joshua Sergeson, the Club’s Director of Teen Services. “but we’ve also had executives and administrators from tech companies, hedge funds, and national brands like Pottery Barn.” Through Programs like “Keystone,” the Club creates opportunities for teens to volunteer in, or work on, service projects that elevate the Napa Valley community. Keystone has done everything from helping to collect coats for the unhoused, creek clean ups, and planting trees for earth day. In fact, the Club’s Keystone program received national recognition from Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2021 for its outreach work. When it comes to teens, though, the Club is best known, for its Youth of the Year program. The program involves weeks of essay writing, interviewing, and public speaking which culminates in an opportunity for teens to tell their stories in a public format. This year’s event, which was sponsored by JAM Cellars, teens spoke in front of an audience of 300 people in a TED talk inspired format at the Uptown Theater. “Each year at the Club’s Youth of the Year event, I have been inspired by the stories shared by high school students about the impact of the Club’s teen programs. The student stories illuminate the life-changing work happening at the Boys and Girls Club. Our teenage students from across the district could benefit from participation,” said Pat Andry Jennings, NVUSD Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services. That sentiment clearly resonates with the Boys & Girls Club who now, in partnership with NVUSD, will offer expanded enrollment and enrichment opportunities to teens from all NVUSD middle school and high school locations at the Napa Clubhouse.

This new partnership with NVUSD, will expand the Club’s focus on teen services by creating a formal funding agreement in the form of $178,000 and establishing a structured and measurable partnership between the two agencies. What does this mean for local teens? More services and more opportunities in a dedicated facility but accessible at no cost to teens or their families.

It is worth noting that this agreement is only part of a growing collaboration between the Club and NVUSD and that the Club’s expansions in the wake of the pandemic are largely the result of this partnership. In 2019, the last normal year on record prior to the pandemic, 2,000 children were served by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley in the cities of Napa and American Canyon. In 2022, the most recent reportable year, that number had jumped to well over 5,000 youth between the ages of 5 and 18. “We’re doing a lot,” said the Club’s Executive Director Greg Bouillerce, “but our expansion and services would not be possible without strong partners like NVUSD.” In May of 2023, the NVUSD School Board of Trustees authorized the continuation of an agreement that will allow the Club to access more than $3,700,000 in state Expanded Learning Opportunities Program funding to offer k-6 services to qualifying students.

The impact of these programs has been immediate and resoundingly positive. A recent parent survey conducted in the winter of 2022 indicated that an overwhelming majority of parents (more than 98%) felt that the Club was safe, important to their family’s stability & success, and a vital resource for their children. With one parent saying “It’s important for me and my child. It’s important to my child for his socialization with others, homework help, and fun activities. For me it’s important because I have a secure place for my child after school which allows me to work knowing he’s ok in a place he loves.”

These services are a critical part of the Club’s strategy, but they are buttressed by a philosophy of equity. Despite the massive expansions both in scope and depth, the Club works to keep its fees low with the maximum after school fee of $200/month- roughly half that of similar programs. Even so, these programs directly target those who need them most with over 70% of children attending at no charge because of this continued access to state funding. The impact of this collaboration is also being reflected in classrooms “You can definitely see a difference between the kids who do and don’t attend Club programs,” said one of the many surveyed teachers who partnered with Clubs to provide wrap around support for students.

“We’re excited to see what the future holds,” the Club’s Executive Director Greg Bouillerce said. “We’re eager to introduce new and innovative approaches that will help promote a more equitable but elevated member experience for every child and teen in our care. We believe firmly that if youth are placed in engaging environments and those places are staffed with incredible mentors, that great futures are the result and we’re blessed to have NVUSD as an avid partner in this pursuit.”

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