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Powering Tomorrow’s Leaders

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is connecting local clubs with technology—and building on its 160-year history in the process.

I n 1906, 53 youth clubs banded together to form the Boys Clubs Federation, the organization that would evolve into the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). Only one of those clubs served Black youth—the Wissahickon Boys & Girls Club in Philadelphia, PA.

Its director was William T. Coleman, a Black educator. His success eventually took him across the country as a field secretary for the national organization, bringing in at least a dozen more clubs serving Black youth. These contributions paved the way for generations of Black leaders and made an incalculable impact on communities nationwide.

“He was the epitome of what a Boys & Girls Club leader is and does,” explains COO Lorraine Orr. “Making sure that any young person that needs the Boys & Girls Club has access to it.” By continuing to create more opportunities for more children, BGCA leaders like Orr are building on Coleman’s legacy.

Serving over 4.2 million young people nationwide, BGCA has turned to Nonprofit Cloud to help the organization standardize technology across its more than 4,700 locations. The technology will streamline Club management and allow the organization to collect and leverage data from local Clubs. All of this, Orr explains, ultimately empowers Clubs to augment their impact and better serve youth. “Technology, and access to technology, is the great equalizer.”

This film is part of Our Own Hands, a partnership between and The Atlantic’s in-house creative studio, Atlantic Re:think, illuminating stories of Black individuals, organizations, and communities committed to solving systemic problems, one win at a time.