The Good Character & Citizenship initiative develops strong, smart leaders to be engaged citizens involved in the community, register to vote and model strong character.
Studies show that out-of-school time is a dangerous time for unsupervised children and teens. They are more likely to use alcohol, drugs, and tobacco; engage in criminal and other high-risk behaviors; receive poor grades; and drop out of school than those who have the opportunity to benefit from constructive activities. BGCMC recognizes that simply offering youth programs during out-of-school time is not enough. Youth also need to be surrounded by caring and responsible adults. Therefore, providing the youth that need us most with caring youth development professionals, is an essential part of how we help our youth succeed. BGCMC works to foster young people’s good character, their ability to make positive life choices and their willingness to serve others. Teens who volunteer are less likely to become pregnant or use drugs, and are more likely to have positive academic, psychological and occupational well-being.
According to the “Lost Youth Study” by the Violence Policy Center, Monterey County for the third time in four years has the highest youth homicide rate in California; nearly three times higher than the state average. Deemed a High Intensity Gang Area by the State, the Monterey County’s Gang Violence Prevention Strategic Plan (2013) estimates the County is home to 5,000 active gang members. Youth homicides are 88% gang-related (Violence Policy Center, 2014). In addition, 62% of homicides occurred on a street, sidewalk, or in a parking lot and 100% of the victims were Hispanic (Violence Policy Center, 2014).
Keystoning is the Boys & Girls Club Movement’s most dynamic teen program. It affords teens an opportunity to gain valuable leadership and service experience. They conduct activities in three areas: academic success, career exploration and community service.
Torch Clubs are small-group leadership and service clubs for boys and girls ages 11-13. A Torch Club is a powerful vehicle through which Club staff can help meet the special character development needs of younger adolescents at a critical stage in their development. Torch Club members learn to elect officers and work together to implement activities in four areas: service to Club and community, education, health and fitness and social recreation.
Million Members, Million Hours of Service encourages good character and appreciation for citizenship and provides every Club member with opportunities to serve in year-round Club and community based volunteer service experiences. BGCMC encourages members and provides resources for them to engage in community service projects and volunteerism. This is part of the National program from Boys & Girls Clubs of America based on the idea that If one million Club members gave one hour per year, it would add up to one million hours spent by young people making meaningful change in their communities. Throughout the year, there are eight Signature Service Opportunities-times when the entire Boys & Girls Club Movement comes together around important, nationwide service projects for greater impact.
Youth for Unity is the hallmark program of BGCA’s diversity initiative. Youth for Unity provides youth and parents with the groundwork that will help them better understand diversity and combat prejudice, bigotry and discrimination. As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, young people need the knowledge and skills to thrive in a globally connected society and world. Youth for Unity consists of a comprehensive, broad-based set of programmatic interventions that build the capacity of our Clubs to help members appreciate themselves as unique and special individuals; understand our society’s diversity; recognize bias and unfairness; and ttake personal leadership in confronting bias.
Since 1947, Youth of the Year has been Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program, celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Club members. Each year, one exceptional young person from a Boys & Girls Club rises to the role of National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year serves as both an exemplary ambassador for Boys & Girls Club youth and as a strong voice for all of our nation’s young people. Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County awards one teen as Youth of the Year. This young person then progresses to state, regional and national levels.
Monterey County youth and families attend a summit in which 8 panelists discuss their experiences with gangs. These panelist were raised in situations where gang violence was a way of life, drugs readily available, and crime a common occurrence. Some panelists speak about how they navigated successfully through these challenges without engaging in gangs. Other panelists talk about how and why they became part of a gang, their challenges, and how they ultimately overcame them. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County Gang Prevention Summit focuses on the CROSSROADS that many of our youth face – the place in their lives where they are forced to choose a path that will greatly affect their future.