Saving Lives through Youth Guidance & Development

by Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area
BGCP Club Youth Perform
BGCP Club Youth Perform

At the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland, Arts programs are offered where staff work to inspire youth to explore artistic expression through drawing, painting, music, dance, theater, printmaking, and more.  Specifically in Performing Arts they strive to give wrap around exposure to the performing arts—with programs that focus on theater, music, and dance. Through these programs, youth enhance creative expression and problem solving, confidence building, and collaboration skills.

New this year, The Long-Story-Short Play Festival was created from a collaboration between our Program Development Specialist, Melissa Schenter, and the Northwest Children’s Theater’s Outreach Coordinator, Jessica Zodrow. “We loved the idea of staging original work written by BGC members, focusing less on spectacle and theatricality, and focusing more on featuring their creative voices.”

In January 2016, Jessica trained staff from three different BGCP sites—along with a handful of volunteer theatre educators—to prepare them to run the program in the clubs. Through improvisation, character creation exercises, and writing prompts, our Club kids worked for 9 weeks to write their own plays and monologues.

This program was an opportunity for our members to strengthen their literacy skills in a fun and imaginative way and feel empowered artistically, realizing their value and potential as creative individuals.  The goal; to gain another tool with which they can express themselves and communicate with the world around them.

In March, all the youth who participated in the 9 week program were able to perform their original plays in front of an audience.  “It was amazing. I had a really fun time, and I would do it again. It was surprising how much stuff I could create.” -Nebiyu, age 14, Wattles Club Member.

I give back.
I give back.

One of the five main programs the Boys & Girls Clubs offer to our youth is Character and Leadership Development, teaching them about thinking and doing for others. During Giving Tuesday, BGCP youth dedicated the day to giving back. Seven Portland-area Boys & Girls Club sites organized a day of service to show their appreciation for the year-long support of their local communities.

The Inukai Family Club in Hillsboro delivered 200 stuffed animals to the Hillsboro Fire Department and the Forest Grove Police Department to give to families and youth during times of crisis.

The firefighters asked youth to help decorate a tree to put the stuffed animals under  so that the community could see them as they walked through the station. One of the youth that helped had recently been affected by tragedy and said to Club Director Rachel Parker, “I’m so happy I could help kids like me.”

At the Forest Grove Police Department, Chief Schutz was so excited about the donation. She gave youth a tour of the department and showed the kids all the aspects of being a police officer. She ended the tour by bringing them to her office and gifting each child with service metals that she had collected throughout her career.

“On the drive back the kids said to me, ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever done!,’ and ‘I want to be police officer so that I can always help my community,’ and ‘I want to be an engineer when I grow up.'” said Parker.

“I am so happy that our kids got this opportunity to give back, and for our community to feel cherished by their youth,” she added.

The Wattles Club in SE Lents delivered stuffed animals to a Portland firehouse to give to families and youth during times of crisis and give thank you cards to emergency responders.

Station Captain Jason Kelly says the toys will be placed on Truck 11 and handed out to children as they are needed. Each stuffed animal had a personal note from each club member attached. The youth got to tour the firehouse, check out the firetruck, and ask questions to local firefighters.

Regence Club in New Columbia, Blazers Club in the King neighborhood, Meyer Memorial Club in Sellwood, Margaret Scott Elementary School, Parkrose Schools raked leaves for their neighbors and delivered gifts to friends of the Clubs like PGE and more!

I give back.
I give back.
Youth at Police station.
Youth at Police station.
Youth at Fire station.
Youth at Fire station.
Boys & Girls Club Youth Visit the Oregon Zoo
Boys & Girls Club Youth Visit the Oregon Zoo

At the Boys & Girls Clubs we strive to give our youth experiences they normally wouldn’t get the chance to do.  Recently 42 enthusiastic and inquisitive members had the chance attend ZooSnooze, a special overnighter at the Oregon Zoo. The ZooSnooze is a unique wildlife experience where youth who would not normally have the opportunity to visit the zoo are able to spend the night and experience an exclusive, behind-the-scenes evening around inhabitants of the zoo.

Youth were split into small groups, each led by an Oregon Zoo tour guide, and toured several facilities that are usually restricted to zoo staff.  They visited the reptiles, learning about different reptilian species and had the chance to meet and pet a corn snake and a turtle.

Next they viewed the kitchen area where animal foods are stored and prepared and learned about the varying diets of the zoo inhabitants.

Another behind-the-scenes section they had the chance to explore was the animal hospital.  Members were able to get a glimpse of the medical lab and view any x-rays currently on display. They were shown a few special scientific preservations, including a monkey brain and the eye of a rhinosaurus!

The evening wrapped up by viewing a motion picture of enrichment efforts in the Oregon Zoo, and activities used to stimulate the mind and body of each unique animal. These enrichment activities followed into the next morning, as they woke to witness two slender cheetahs receiving their breakfast through a series of challenges.  After that they made rounds to another medical facility at the zoo, a heated incubation room, where they were able visit newborn turtles barely the size of a pinky finger.

Throughout the event, members absorbed their surroundings and marveled at new information and discoveries. They posed challenging questions about the animals and held meaningful discussions with staff and one another. The ZooSnooze was an exciting time of an enriching scientific experience for members.

Up close and personal with the reptiles!
Up close and personal with the reptiles!
The eye of the tiger... er rhino!
The eye of the tiger... er rhino!
The Cheetah challenge.
The Cheetah challenge.

For the past two years, 24 members of the Inukai Boys & Girls Club in Hillsboro, Ore. have participated in the Sea Research Foundation’s Immersion Mentoring Program.  The Immersion Learning Program, founded in 2002 by Dr. Robert Ballard (discovered the Titanic and Bismarck), is an evidenced-based, small-group mentoring program that actively engages at-risk mentees ages 9 to 13 through weekly hands-on ocean science activities.

Whale watching, Sea Lion shows, and a real boat expedition are just a few of the activities Juan and Thurston from the Inukai Boys & Girls Club experienced at the 2015 Camp Hercules Immersion program in Mystic, Connecticut this July.

Camp Hercules invited Boys & Girls Club members from across the country to participate in a 2 1/2 day science and technology mentoring camp. The camp featured fun team building activities, ocean science education experiences, and sea explorations with Club Staff­ mentors and fellow mentees.

All youth had the opportunity to meet a beluga whale, take a ride on the Save the Bay Marine Science boat, get lost in the Ocean Exploration Center, check out the Mystic Aquarium, interact with real scientists, as well as meet other Boys & Girls Club youth from across the country.

Juan and Thurston were selected to attend Camp Hercules based on enthusiasm and accomplishments in the Sea Immersion program, a year-round, nation-wide science and marine biology program that is offered weekly at our Inukai Club in Hillsboro. The program teaches youth about marine biology and ocean science in a hands-on environment through innovative curriculum and field trips. The program is open to all Inukai Boys & Girls Club members grades 4th grade and up free of charge.

Twins Brian & Brandon receive their first paycheck
Twins Brian & Brandon receive their first paycheck

YouthForce is a career development program dedicated to leveling the professional playing field for underserved youth, empowering them to develop a vision for their future and providing them the experiences to believe they can, and the resources and networks to achieve it. 

YouthForce (YF) programs integrate adult coaching and mentoring; skill building workshops and hands on work experience in paid internships to develop the assets and competencies that low income and minority teens need to achieve their educational and career potential.

Our program officially kicked off in March and is possible thanks the generous support of Key Bank.  Interested Club teens, who are in good academic standing, submitted applications and participated in two interviews.  Originally 16 teens were hired, but that number has grown to 21.  The goal is to hire those who normally wouldn't have access to such opportunities; teens who need this chance the most, teens who might be the first family member planning on attending college.

Once hired, teens must commit to attending monthly classes, held at various Boys & Girls Club locations, through YouthForce University which actively expands educational opportunities and engages teens in planning for their future. The workshops and weekly drop in hours prepare teens to develop and achieve their post-high-school plans. YFU includes Financial Literary components taught by Key Bank volunteers.  

Thanks to a partnership with the Portland Timbers Soccer Team, our teens are part of the Team Work Internship Program.  This program offers teens meaningful entry-level work experiences at Providence Park and is supported by adult mentorship, positive peer and professional networks, and on-the-job training. Teens serve as Guest Service attendants during Portland Timbers FC and Portland Thorns FC home games.  

Starting in the fall, our teens will participate in the Career Internship Program which offers teens paid internship opportunities at local businesses supported by individualized training and coaching from YF staff. Career Internships develop teens’ career confidence, professional networks, and builds the competencies that employers want and that equip teens for career success.

The YouthForce program is opening doors to our underserved teens, giving them the opportunity to rise up and have a chance at a successful future.

Scanning tickets
Scanning tickets
Checking in guests
Checking in guests
Enjoying their job
Enjoying their job

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Organization Information

Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Melissa Froman
Vice President of Special Events & Partnerships
Portland, OR United States
$5,105 raised of $50,500 goal
42 donations
$45,395 to go
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