Major Donor Supports Kids & Teens in Rural America
Each year, Boys & Girls Clubs serve over 335,000 young people in rural America, where childhood is often shaped by a culture of self-sufficiency and large expanses of land to explore and cultivate. Yet rural communities face unique challenges, from the need to travel long distances for schools, jobs and healthcare to limited access to broadband. And for every child enrolled in an afterschool program, there are three others on a waiting list.
Increasing access to Clubs for more young people in rural America – and increasing the capacity of Clubs to serve more youth – is exactly what prompted Dale Larson, president of the Larson Family Foundation and former CEO of Larson Manufacturing, to make a $30 million contribution to Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The gift includes dedicated funding for several rural Clubs, who already know it will transform their ability to serve their communities.
“This gift from the Larson Family Foundation will allow us to continue to safely and effectively serve families with basic needs support, academic enrichment and mental health resources in a way that will change the trajectory of kids’ lives,” said Daphne Barlow Stigliano, CEO & President of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County, Texas. While COVID-19 has significantly impacted the community, where many families and young people experience food insecurity and homelessness, Club youth have access to the support and resources to thrive. In 2020, the Club served over 190,000 meals and pivoted to provide all-day learning centers to support virtual schooling. With additional funding, the Club will continue these services, grow their footprint in rural Texas, invest in renovations and repairs at existing Clubhouses and bolster their sustainability to better serve more youth.
Further north, Boys & Girls Club of Janesville is one of the only affordable afterschool programs in Janesville, Wisconsin, where economic and racial disparities persist. The Club focuses on STEM education and literacy, and their partnership with the local school district helps create an ecosystem of support for the more than 500 young people they serve each year. Funding from the Larson gift will help the Club build a brand-new Clubhouse, recruit and retain trained staff, expand their new Literacy Initiative and intentionally implement workforce readiness programming for teens. These improvements will allow the Club to better serve even more young people every day.
For Boys & Girls Clubs of the Piedmont, in Statesville, North Carolina, this additional funding will be no less than transformational. “This generous gift will allow us to continue to shape and strengthen the lives of our children and their families during these distressful times,” said Clarissa Flowers Young, Executive Director. This tiny community of about six square miles has a per capita income of only $23,000 and experiences high crime and high unemployment rates that have been exacerbated by COVID-19. But the over 700 young people the Club serves annually prove they have what it takes to thrive: 84% of Club members report As and Bs in school, 97% expect to complete high school and 100% of Club teens abstain from smoking. The Club even provides programs for parents, from credit counseling to trauma and stress workshops. With the additional funding, the Club will deepen their community impact by improving program quality, increasing teen engagement, and continuing to respond to the needs of their community.
Dred Scott, President & CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, where several of their rural Clubs north of the Missouri River received additional funding, put it best: “Dale Larson’s remarkable philanthropy is a testament to the good will our country is built upon. We take care of those in need. We invest in the next generation, so they are able to achieve greater heights than our own. We plant trees under whose shade we do not expect to sit.”
Dale Larson is committing this gift with the goal to have his investment matched by other donors, investors and partners to ensure that Boys& Girls Clubs have the resources they need to continue building great futures in small towns. For more information on Dale Larson’s contribution, view the press release here.