Our mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
Founded in 1999, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee currently serves more than 1,200 youth per year through three Clubhouse sites (Wayne Street, Pulaski, and the Columbia Teen Center) and eleven school-based sites. On August 1, 2016, the Club became the before/after school care provider for Maury County Public Schools – resulting in the opening of school-based sites in the communities of Mt. Pleasant, Spring Hill, Culleoka, Santa Fe, Hampshire, and Columbia.
With this expansion into the school system, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee tripled in size virtually overnight. In a matter of months, the Club went from 200 members enrolled and two sites operating, to more than 600 members enrolled and fourteen sites operating every day. This expansion has allowed the Club to reach new members in new communities within Maury County.
THE NEED IN MAURY COUNTY
Growing up in today’s world is not easy for anyone, but for many kids in our communities, it is tougher than ever before:
- The violent crime rate in Columbia is nearly twice the national average
- 40% of kids in our community are overweight or obese
- 16% of children under 18 in Maury County live in poverty
- 18% of Maury County youth live in households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
- The graduation rate for Maury County Schools has been declining steadily since 2017. It increased slightly to 89.2% in 2021, but dropped to 86.5% in 2022.
- 20.5% of low-income Maury County youth and 14% of African-American youth did not graduate high school on time last year
- There were 903 juvenile court referrals in Maury County in 2019
- Over 17% of Maury County youth are chronically absent from school, and this rate increases to 29.5% for low-income students
- The teen STD rate for Maury County is 16.6%, the same as the statewide average
- Tennessee is in the top 10 states for illegal drug use among persons age 12 and older
THE NEED IN GILES COUNTY
- 19% percent of children under age 18 in Giles County now live in poverty
- 26% percent live in households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
- 56% percent participate in the free/reduced school lunch program
- The cohort high school dropout rate is 6.1%
- The graduation rate for Giles County youth dropped to 85.7% in 2022
- The teen STD rate in Giles County is now 19.1, an increase over the previous year’s rate of 13.3
- Almost 41% percent of Giles County youth are obese or overweight, a continuation of the upward trend since 2016 (2016 rate = 32%)
- Finally, there were 388 juvenile court referrals in Giles County in 2019—a rate of 6.3% vs. 4.9% in 2016
The life prospects for these youth without a targeted, comprehensive intervention are very clear. Children who grow up with only one biological parent are approximately twice as likely to drop out of high school as those children who grow up with both parents. Only 63% of teenagers who give birth before the age of 18 graduate from high school or receive their GED. A high school dropout earns roughly $8,000 less each year than a high school graduate and is eight times more likely to be incarcerated. Our Club typically serves some of the MOST at-risk youth in the county. Many of our Club members face the combined challenges of poverty, growing up without one or both of their parents, and living in neighborhoods plagued by drugs and gang violence.
RESPONDING TO THE NEED
The Club addresses these needs by providing youth with quality programming facilitated by trained, caring staff members targeted to three priority outcome areas: Academic Success, Healthy Lifestyles, and Good Character & Citizenship. All of our programs are designed to accomplish three key goals for our youth:
1) Academic Success: For all youth members to graduate from high school ready for college, trade school, military, or employment;
2) Healthy Lifestyles: For all youth members to adopt a healthy diet, practice healthy lifestyle choices, and make a lifelong commitment to fitness, and
3) Good Character & Citizenship: For all youth members to become engaged citizens involved in their communities, register to vote, and model strong character.