Boys and Girls Club of America History

The Boys and Girls Club (BGCA) was established in 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut. The establishment was formed after three local women suggested a positive alternative for young boys roaming around the neighborhood streets, seemingly without a purpose. Elizabeth Hammersley, Mary Goodwin, and Alice Goodwin are credited a century ago for giving cause to the foundation of today’s BGCA organization. The initial club grew to 53 individual Boys’ Clubs merging together in the city of Boston in 1906 to officially establish the Federated Boys’ Clubs; thus marking a nationwide movement.

The non-profit youth organization or the Federated Boys' Club was renamed in 1931 to the Boys’ Clubs of America. BGCA celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1956, receiving a Congressional Charter. The national organization underwent another name change in 1990 to introduce the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of America. Congress amended and renewed the organization’s charter to reflect the acceptance of female members to participate in the club. BGCA marked another accomplishment by celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2006.

Although the three women gave cause to the initial establishment of BGCA in Boston, over the years there have been numerous other influential individuals carrying on the mission of the organization. The most notable founding fathers include: Herbert Hoover, Willam E. Hall, Stanley Resor, J. Edgar Hoover, and George A. Scott. Another more recent advocate for promoting the mission of BGCA is actor Denzel Washington, a previous club member and spokesperson for the club since 1993. The club is also sponsored as the official charity in the sport’s world of major league baseball.

Although the organization has numerous accolades for being fiscally responsible in managing the club’s finances, in March of 2010, Roxanne Spillett, CEO of the organization, was questioned by several United States’ Senators in regard to previous compensation and travel expenses incurred during 2008. The organization rebounded from the accusations and continues to provide outreach and life-altering opportunities to children and adolescences despite the questionable spending habits.


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