Club Programs During COVID-19
Boys & Girls Clubs of King County is working to address the needs of those on the front lines so that they can continue meeting the growing needs of our community. The day after schools closed to students, our Clubs opened for all-day programming.
Nineteen Clubs are open and serving kids of first responders, healthcare professionals, grocery store employees, and other members of the essential workforce.
For two months Clubs waived daily program fees, then we transitioned families into our existing scholarship programs, removing financial barriers.
The day the schools closed, our school-based sites also closed and we had to ask most families to keep their kids home so that we could keep serving children of Essential Workers. We have a strong tradition of being there for those who need us most. So for two months, we didn’t charge any Essential Worker for the cost of all-day programming and meals.
Keeping our Clubs open so that children of Essential Workers could have a safe, productive, and affordable place to continue learning and growing was possible because of the organization’s strong financial position going into the crisis, and the overwhelming philanthropic response from our community, who supported our decision to care for Essential Workers.
As we reintroduced daily fees, we transitioned these families into our existing scholarships program, where appropriate.
Rotary Club member playing golf game in the gym.
In partnership with Microsoft, Safeway, T-Mobile, and other organizations, Clubs are offering free meals to local families as part of an effort to fight food insecurity. In April alone, participating Clubs served approximately 8,824 meals and snacks to community members. Our Clubs continue to offer relief to families grappling with the loss of free or reduced-cost meals at school.
To protect the health of kids, staff, and volunteers, Clubs that are open have implemented a number of new safety procedures. These include regular cleanings, taking visitors’ temperatures, and screening for possible contact with the virus before entry.
Ballard Club member enjoys a beading project.
Staff experienced an outpouring of appreciation and support from Club families in response to the expanded programming. “We cannot fully express our gratitude to you for staying open and enabling us to continue serving the community,” said a Ballard Club parent, who made a gift online to cover program costs for a Club member in need.
Since the school closures, community members and foundations have contributed upwards of $1 million to help provide supervision, steady meals, and learning opportunities for Club kids and teens. Many families who are able to stay home right now have donated their Club membership fees to keep services affordable for working families. Thanks to each and every one of you for your generosity!
Beyond offering basic supervision and childcare, youth development professionals at the Clubs are finding creative ways to combat learning loss while schools are closed. Club staff have partnered with local school districts to offer homework packets that align with their curriculum, setting aside dedicated time for academic support. Kids are also able to access computers and Wi-Fi at the Clubs, allowing them to complete homework online and connect virtually with their teachers.
Wallingford Club members engaging in safely-distanced learning.
As soon as schools closed their doors, our youth development professionals moved swiftly to engage Club members with consistent, structured educational activities.
“We knew it was going to be a very different opportunity, with different needs we had to address,” said Ramsey Jester, Club Program Director. Ramsey and other program staff have worked tirelessly to assemble resources and develop an action plan for preventing learning loss. Educational activities primarily focus on math, reading, writing, and social and emotional learning.
“Our families are extremely appreciative,” said Ramsey. “Many have expressed the relief they feel knowing that their children are continuing their education.”
One family, whose three children attend the Sacajawea Elementary Club, had only planned to enroll their kids in the program for a week. Both parents are doctors working daily to manage the current health crisis.
“Following that first week, I asked dad about the plan going forward,” said Ramsey. “He said he wanted the kids to stay registered for five days a week, every week, until the program was no longer running. This same father would continue to recommend our program to his fellow healthcare workers. Since then, our enrollment has tripled.”
According to Ramsey, these relationships with youth and their families have been extremely rewarding. “There are multiple exchanges each day of ‘thank you for what you do’ between youth development professionals and the doctors, nurses, and other essential workers we support.”
In addition to math, reading, and writing, Clubs are exploring fun, innovative ways to teach kids about science, geography, arts and culture, and more. Recently, kids and staff celebrated Earth Day with a week of themed educational activities, including a scavenger hunt and a countywide, virtual game of Earth Day Jeopardy.
In late April, Boys & Girls Clubs of King County published a resource page with tried-and-true activities that could be done at the Club or at home, such as virtual museum tours and kid-friendly cooking videos. The hope is that this “Virtual Club” page will be an outlet for families who are home during normal school hours and looking for supplementary learning tools.