A Focus on Character & Leadership

Since the beginning, Character and Leadership programs have encouraged members to take personal responsibility for their actions and take on leadership roles within their Club. They are also introduced to community service – a critical element of this programming.

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Since the very beginning, Character and Leadership programming has been a primary focus. Through these programs, members are encouraged to take personal responsibility for their actions and are given leadership roles within their Club. They are also introduced to community service – a critical element of this programming.

Character and Leadership programs are available to members of all ages and take a variety of forms from gender-specific programming to interest-based clubs located within each clubhouse.

“I gained a lot of confidence at the Club. The Clubs encouraged me to speak up and realize that I have ideas and that what I say is of value.”

Adella Deacon, LaVarnway Boys & Girls Clubs alumni

Sista Pride and Señoritas en Acción teach middle and high school-aged girls to be strong, confident and independent.

Sista Pride allows participants to develop their voices as young women living in Milwaukee. Girls create their own community service projects and attend leadership conferences where professional Milwaukee women provide valuable feedback

Señoritas en Acción was developed in 2011 in response to Latina Club members’ desire to minimize language and cultural barriers, and reflect on their unique experiences as Latina women living in Milwaukee. Mirroring Sista Pride programs, Señoritas en Acción encourages leadership, self-advocacy and community service among participants.

More than 600 girls across 18 Boys & Girls Clubs locations improve their social, interpersonal and decision making skills through the two programs’ many events, including the 2014 Year of the GIRL Celebration. In 2015, Celebrating G.I.R.L.S will be held in November. The event will once again highlight the Clubs girl-centered programming and offer extended educational, career and recreational opportunities to the thousands of young women we serve every day.

Major program funders include We Energies, Potawatomi Bingo and Casino and the Brico Fund. Their continued commitment and support allows us to continue to provide quality programming, staff training and ongoing assessments.


Keystone & Torch Clubs

In these programs, participants build character and leadership through a focus on community service and academic success. Both Keystone and Torch Clubs are free to join.

Keystone Club

This unique leadership development program provides opportunities for youth ages 14-18 to participate in activities in three focus areas: academic success, career preparation and community service. Under the guidance of an adult advisor, this program aims to have a positive impact on members, the Clubs and the community. Keystone Club activities include at least five community service projects annually, staffing a snack stand at the Clubs each week and participating in college visits and tours.

Annually, Boys & Girls Clubs of America hosts the National Keystone Conference, an event that brings together members from across the globe. During the conference, participants engage and socialize with peers, explore important social issues and develop skills to support and enhance efforts in their local Boys & Girls Clubs and communities.

During the 2013-2014 school year, Keystone Club programming had 955 participants and operated at four Boys & Girls Clubs: LaVarnway, Davis, Mary Ryan and Daniels-Mardak.

Torch Club

This program helps meet the character development needs of adolescents ages 9-13. Torch Club members elect officers and work together to implement activities in four areas: service to the Club and community; education; health and fitness; and social recreation. Projects may include neighborhood cleanups, raising money and organizing food drives.

National Torch Club Awards are presented annually to Clubs with outstanding programs and activities. Each year, participants from across the country take part in a service learning experience through the National Torch Club Project. Cash awards ranging from $500 to $2,500 are presented to the top entries.

During the 2013-2014 school year, Torch Club programming had 985 participants and was operated at Clubs serving kids of the appropriate ages.

The Youth of the Year program dates back to 1947 and celebrates youth who have overcome enormous odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments. Those selected are recognized for service to their Club and community, academic performance and contributions to their families.

Participants are chosen on both local and state levels. From those participants, five regional winners are selected to meet every September in Washington, D.C. to compete for the National Youth of the Year title. Five judges interview each candidate and select the winner based on scholastic achievement, community service, leadership ability, and consideration of any physical, social or emotional obstacles that were overcome.

All five regional winners are honored at a Congressional Breakfast on Capitol Hill and have an opportunity to meet the President of the United States in the White House. In addition, each regional winner receives a $10,000 scholarship and the National Youth of the Year receives an additional college scholarship totaling up to $50,000. Each state winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship. Scholarships are made possible by Tupperware Brands Corporation and The Rick and Susan Goings Foundation.

FOX Sports Wisconsin is a long-standing local funder of the Youth of the Year program.

Stay tuned as we tell you more about our 2018 Youth of the Year in the coming weeks!

2018 Youth of the Year Ambassadors

Daijahnay Canady – St. Joan Antida High School

Giovanni Perez – Bradley Tech High School

Charlysse Baker – Brookfield Academy

Taviah Holmes – Milwaukee Collegiate Academy

Ee Thao – Bay View High School

Lowrese Riggins – Rufus King High School

Montrell Watson – Washington High School

“Boys & Girls Clubs taught me the importance of being prepared for the real world. Within the Clubs, I participated in Stein Scholars, Keystone, Camp Whitcomb/Mason and Career Launch, which prepped me for my first job at Boston Store.”

Alethia Tilford, 2015 Youth of the Year