Free Education, Free Meals
As the world went through, and is now exiting, the worst part of the pandemic, keeping Tucson’s treasured youth educated and fed was a challenge. Many BGCT club members and their families struggle with immensely challenging economic circumstances, and with so many jobs lost or radically changed during the pandemic these issues became more imperative than ever for us. During this time period, success became about supporting people through some of the biggest challenges this country has seen in the past few decades.
One of the greatest aids to us during this time came from the office of Governor Ducey, who created the Arizona OnTrack program, which designated nearly 700 sites throughout the state of Arizona to be educational hubs over the summer of 2022. When BGCT became a part of this, we took the opportunity and ran with it, making our summer program entirely free for any youth who wished to attend. In addition to academic support and educational field trips, our summer program included two meals every day as well as snacks for all members. More than 2,000 youth were served during this time alone.
While the successes of Arizona OnTrack highlight the possibilities available when education is prioritized, it also reveals a window into some of BGCT’s values that will continue long after the pandemic ends. Though we do charge a fee for membership ($20 for the school year and $60 for the summer), we always offer scholarships to any youth whose family cannot afford the ask. Scholarships always include the hot meals and nutritious snacks served throughout the year. In 2022, for example, BGCT served over 55,000 meals, and a fair number of these were for youth on scholarship. It’s a core commitment of ours that no youth will ever be turned away due to financial hardships. Success is both being able to grow in both academic capability and physical wellness, and we prioritize this for all of our valued members.