Dear Champions for Change,
When we first arrived in Philadelphia, many deemed us as outsiders and newcomers as a way to dismiss our vision for change. We were told countless times that we didn’t understand how Philadelphia operated, and we just needed to accept the status quo for our Clubs and our kids. This mantra of “that’s just the way it is” did not align with our understanding of Philadelphia’s legacy as the heart of a revolution more than 225 years ago. A legacy, that we soon learned, was deeply connected to our family roots; family roots that came to Philadelphia in 1680.
Rather than being newcomers in the city, our journey to Philadelphia reflected a return home. Soon after taking leadership of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia in 2012, we learned that our ancestors first immigrated to this great city on the eve of the beginning of the revolution, seeking freedom and change. They saw Philadelphia as a place of opportunity, where they could become contributing members of society without fear of oppression or judgement. Today, more than 225 years later, this is the legacy we that we work to carry out every day at our Boys & Girls Clubs.
2020 has been a year of turbulence and hope. The last 16 months have left our youth academically abandon due to a lack of in-person instruction, and socially isolated as schools and community resources closed their doors, resulting in the over-all neglect of their development and nourishment. COVID-19’s devastating health, social, and economic impacts have created irreversible damage to children already living in Philadelphia’s most economically distressed communities. Not only did our communities experience high rates of COVID-19 transmission, but they suffered disproportionality from the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. Academic turbulence negatively impacted our children’s educational advancement, with just 55% of Philadelphia’s youth meeting school attendance goals. COVID-19 safety guidelines such as social distancing and mask use resulted in a year of social isolation for already vulnerable youth. As the unemployment rate in Philadelphia more than doubled from 2019 to 2020, our families faced increased food-insecurity, increased domestic violence, and skyrocketing rates of gun violence, leading Philadelphia’s children to experience a loss of hope and opportunity for a brighter future.
During this bleak period, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia actively ensured that Philadelphia’s youth were NOT forgotten. We worked diligently over the past 16 months to meet the growing needs of Philadelphia’s youth, while ensuring our dedicated and talented employees retained their jobs. Since March 2020 Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia:
- Served over 250,453 meals to youth and their families.
- Continued operating in-person programing, including the Literacy Initiative, in 15 Club locations.
- Established the D.E.F.Y. virtual learning platform, with over 3,000 hours logged.
- Supported over 1000 youth in 15 organizations nationwide with BGCP’s virtual resources.
- Served over 550 kids through our virtual educational, arts, S.T.E.M and fitness platforms.
- Hosted 15 Access Centers, providing children connectivity to school on a daily basis.
Our staff, donors and Board of Governors were true Champions for Change during a time they were needed most. They stepped up without question, led when leadership was needed, and embraced change with courage, boldness, and compassion for all. Yes, 2020 was a year of turbulence, but it also was a year of hope for a brighter future, as our Champions of Change showed our kids there were people who cared, people who had the valor to stand for what’s right, help where needed, and be brave in the face of fear. Our Champions depicted the core of human dignity, respect, and a love for all. We look to the future with much optimism and will continue the momentum to GO BOLD for the kids who need us most.
Collectively, as we embrace our community, everyone’s support will make a difference.
Join us as we continue to GO BOLD for our kids.
In the best interest of the kids,
Lisabeth & Joseph Marziello
President-Chief Executive Officers