Following the Governor’s recent announcement on school reopening metrics, and the reality that most kids in Central Oregon will not be returning to the classroom this fall, Boys & Girls Clubs of Bend (BGCB) is going to take a bold step in a few short weeks.
In the face of Comprehensive Distance Learning, families are struggling to figure out how they will ensure their children are educated, safe, and healthy.
This is hard on every parent, but the effect on low- and moderate-income and BIPOC families, who were already facing disproportionate barriers pre-COVID, is far worse.
Club kids represent a more diverse population compared to Bend as a whole.
They come from various neighborhoods and backgrounds, from nearly every school in the Bend-La Pine School District. 60% of youth attending this summer live in households with an income of $45,000 or less, and nearly half of them attend public schools with a Free and Reduced Lunch rate of over 40%.
“BGCB would help ease the stress of having to choose between my child’s education, or my child having a place to live and food to eat. With BGCB support I can still give her both,” said Jessica Watts, a parent with a daughter entering the fourth grade.
Through a robust partnership with Bend-La Pine Schools, BGCB will increase its hours and services to youth who may otherwise not engage in distance learning, be left in unsafe environments, or whose parents would be unable to provide for their families without care.
BGCB has been serving youth this summer in accordance with OHA guidelines and will continue to train staff on how to mitigate the spread of the virus.
With a dedicated facility and staff, outcome-driven programming, and long-standing community partnerships, BGCB is uniquely positioned to meet the need.
Club+, what BGCB is calling its expanded Club Services program, will fill the gaps created by COVID-19 for the most vulnerable youth in our community by: (1) increasing service hours due to school closures, (2) providing support for comprehensive distance learning, (3) ensuring food security, and (4) building social-emotional skills.
“The expanded program will benefit families with working parents who cannot watch their children while classrooms are shuttered,” said Juliana Williams, executive director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Bend. “In particular, the program is meant to help low-income families, for whom about 75% of the spots are reserved.”
A $300,000 grant from the Tykeson Family Charitable Trust has made it possible for the organization to launch Club+.
Amy Tykeson, a Board Trustee, said the investment was an easy decision.
“Boys & Girls Clubs of Bend serve youth who face the opportunity gap, made worse by COVID,” she said. “The Clubs are meeting the moment by expanding services to help families in two important ways—by offering full day programs and by including academic support through the Bend La Pine School District to help students who otherwise may fall further behind.“
BGCB will provide four full days of care each week, starting on September 14.
This will allow for a smooth transition to serving two separate cohorts of youth if and when schools move to a hybrid model with a combination of in-person and distance learning.
Their capacity at the Downtown Club will initially be 95 youth in grades K-5 and up to 36 youth in 6-12. The East Bend Club will serve 30-40 youth in elementary and middle school.
The Club held registration last week and will be notifying families this week if they have secured a spot. Families are encouraged to contact the Club to be placed on a waitlist. Funds are still needed to ensure youth who need the Club most can access the program through scholarships.