As the back to school season and election dominate nearly every conversation, I’ve been thinking a lot about the American Dream — the promise that no matter what you look like or where you come from, you can achieve all you set your mind to with hard work and determination.
Yet today, more than half of kids don’t believe the American Dream is still possible. COVID-19 has changed so much so quickly that it’s easy to feel like that dream was one of its many casualties, too. Critical lifelines that kids and families depend on to live and learn effectively, like schools and community support systems, seemed to disappear overnight.
But I would argue that the American Dream is still very much alive. I see it play out in big and small ways every day at Boys & Girls Clubs.
Danielle, a single mother of two kids ages 13 and 7 who attend one of our Clubs, was facing an urgent dilemma. Like 40% of families here in Baltimore who don’t have the basic needs to get online, she and her family only had one device for their entire household to share. Without another computer or tablet, one of her children would be unable to start school or participate in the required virtual classes and assignments.
“If it wasn’t for the Boys & Girls Club providing a tablet for my son Karter, I don’t know how he would have passed to the next grade.”
- Danielle, Parent of two Club kids
The American Dream is only possible when kids like Karter have access to its promises. Thanks to dedicated Club staff and community partners, Danielle was one of the families we’ve been going door-to-door to visit in our area, checking on their well-being, asking what they need to get by and helping them through this extraordinary time of need. That includes delivering 50 tablets to families across our area to keep kids on track with school and mitigate deepening learning losses
This year is testing us in so many ways, and yet it’s also forcing us to ask tough questions. Every day we wake up and ask ourselves how we can continue helping kids who need us, no matter what the world throws at them or at Clubs.
The answer is clear: Keep the dream within their reach. Adapt our services. Adjust our model. Do whatever it takes
, literally, to make connections, access resources, go beyond what we already do well and do even more.
There’s no better illustration of the American Dream than the Boys & Girls Club. Seeing the resilience of Club kids and the resolve of Club staff remind me that it’s as alive and well today as it has ever been.
Keep Dreams Alive for More Kids
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will support programs that level the playing field so every kid has access to the mentors, experiences and opportunities they need to dream big and have a great future.