Arlington, Fort Worth Boys & Girls Clubs unite to serve more Tarrant County youth

Daphne Barlow Stigliano

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County

• 21,688 – Tarrant County Youth served in 2017

• No. 1 – Largest Boys & Girls Clubs organization in Texas

• 25 School-based and free-standing locations across Tarrant County with innovative programs directly offered at dozens of partner schools across the region

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• 2X – High school students enrolled in Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County college readiness programs are twice as likely to enroll in college as their peers who do not participate.

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New organization will be largest in Texas, poised for growth in areas with limited after-school and options

With a robust economy and an unemployment rate under 4 percent, the number of Tarrant County parents who work is near an all-time high. Demand for qualified employees is so strong that some of our region’s leading employers are paying large signing fees to recruit talent.

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Nationally, about two-thirds of adults who are married and have children ages 6 to 17 work outside the home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figure is rising and driving increased demand for high-quality, supportive after-school and summer programs that also provide youth the practical tools and social-emotional support they need to succeed in life.

But such positive economic trends force our communities to grapple with pressing questions: Who will help nourish, support and develop our youth? And how can families who live at or near the poverty line find a safe, affordable and caring place where their children sense that they belong?

Tarrant County has a rich network of nonprofit organizations that are working hard each day to meet the need. The system grows even stronger this month as Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth – two beloved youth development organizations with more than 150 years of community service between them – unite to form Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County.

This year, nearly 22,000 youth will enter our doors or participate in one of our community- or school-based programs.

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Formed in 1959, the Arlington organization has built lasting partnerships centered on relationships with public and charter schools, youth sports and community support, including six decades of fundraising through the Ladies’ Auxiliary and the annual Cinderella Charity Ball.

The Fort Worth organization’s roots date to 1926 when the Fort Worth Rotary Club established the Panther Boys Club and 1935 when a group of dedicated women opened the Fort Worth Boys Club. The organizations merged in 1991 to form Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth.

Over its history, the Club has excelled in programming, college readiness support and intervention partnerships, such as Comin’ Up, a city-supported program that has been credited with contributing to a lasting reduction in gang crime over its 20-year history.

Like business mergers, nonprofit consolidations often are driven by a desire to achieve economies of scale and business efficiencies. With one CEO, one fundraising team, one accounting system among other functions, our organization will no doubt achieve savings within its combined $10.5 million annual budget.

But where a business might pay dividends to investors, our efficiencies will be paid out to Tarrant County families in the form of innovative and expanded services to children and teens. Over the next few years, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County will:

● Add new programs in areas of unmet need;

● Increase our visibility to attract new supporters willing to give their time and money so that a child has a leg up;

● Make proven academic, intervention and prevention programs that help guide youth to success in high school, college and career accessible in other areas of the county

● Develop our 290 employees so that they provide a higher level of service to our youth;

● Create pathways to leadership roles that help us retain talented staff who are committed to serving children and teens.

Research consistently lifts up the unmet need for quality out-of-school time programming across our nation. The 2014 Wallace Foundation study “America After 3 p.m.” estimated that while participation in after-school programming has climbed steadily in recent years, more than half the parents of children living in communities of concentrated poverty would enroll their children if programs were accessible to them.

We see the demand every day as parents and caregivers drive children and teens long distances to participate in existing programs in Arlington and Fort Worth. We are motivated to increase capacity to serve each time we must post a sign on our front doors to let parents know existing slots are filled.

With the strength of united Arlington and Fort Worth teams, we’re committed to implementing and expanding life-changing programs that keep students safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.

We’ll achieve our vision working hand-in-hand with families, businesses, community leaders and the youth we serve.

Daphne Barlow Stigliano is CEO and president of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County. She holds a Master of Public Health Administration degree from UNT Health Science Center and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Executive Education program. Contact her at Visit to learn more.