From improved high school graduation rates to reductions in teen pregnancy, food insecurity and underage drinking, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley is making a positive, measurable impact on youth and the greater community.
These are the findings from a study by the L. William Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. The study draws from primary and secondary survey research and operational data supplied by the Clubs’ Phoenix office from July 2020 through June 2021.
For every dollar invested in operations and capital expenditures during that time, the Clubs conservatively delivered $15.60 in benefits in Maricopa County.
“Giving back to our kids has never been more important, considering the trauma, learning deficits, and mental health challenges they experienced during and coming out of the pandemic,” said Marcia Mintz, president and CEO of BGCAZ. “The ASU Economic Impact report gives context to the larger impact Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley is having on families and ultimately on the community. Working parents rely on Clubs for care, and this in turn has a positive impact on our economy, not just the families who BGCAZ serves. This social return on investment (SROI) report paints a more complete picture of the outcomes and outputs that we have as an agency and an employer.”
As a mid-size employer, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley invested more than $15 million in after-school and summer enrichment programs and operations to serve 13,000+ K-12 youth in 2020-2021. The total value of monetized socio-economic benefits for Club members, their families, and the Maricopa County economy exceeded $236 million.
Among the positive outcomes:
- A $10.3 million economic gain in lifetime earnings over 40 years, thanks to improved graduation rates;
- A nearly $9 million estimated savings in adverse food insecurity outcomes;
- Up to $3.9 million in cost savings due to lower teenage pregnancy and motherhood costs;
- Lifetime non-smoker savings of almost $8 million;
- $13.4 million in lifetime enhanced physical activity benefits; and
- An enhanced opportunity for parents to work, contributing $166.6 million to Arizona’s economy in FY2021 alone.
The study examined the Clubs’ four priority outcomes – healthy lifestyles, academic success, career pathways and workforce readiness, and good character and leadership – that align with key social determinants of health advocated by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2030 initiative.
“Our conservative estimates of social return suggest that Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley is so much more than a cost-effective option for after-school and summer care. Club members benefit emotionally, socially and physically through their attendance at the Clubs, and the educational support offered by staff helps members to fulfil their potential in later life,” said Dr. Anthony Evans, primary researcher on the Economic Impact and Social Return on Investment, 2021 and senior researcher for the L. William Seidman Research Institute at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University (ASU). “Parents of Club members realize significant benefits in their ability to work thanks to the extended hours the Clubs operates, and this creates a major benefit to the larger Arizona economy.”
From July 2020 through June 2021, the Clubs served 298,267 free meals and 219,161 healthy snacks to Club kids, saving approximately $9 million in negative food insecurity outcomes.
The Clubs’ emphasis on physical activity also helped avert obesity for nearly 200 Club kids, resulting in a potential direct medical and productivity lifetime savings of $13.4 million in 2021. Similarly, prevention programs collectively helped hundreds of youth abstain from alcohol ($2.4 million savings per year), tobacco ($8 million lifetime savings) and marijuana use ($3.6 million savings over 10 years).
The high school graduation rate is a key indicator of school performance used by federal and state governments. In 2020, the graduation rate among Club members was 6.4% higher – 95% vs. 88.6% – than the graduation rate in the rest of the population of the 12 districts where the Clubs are located, generating work-life benefits estimated at $10.3 million over 40 years, the study concluded.
For Club members interested in continuing their education, BGCAZ awarded $76,000 in scholarships in 2020-2021, including to first-time college students.
Career pathways and workforce readiness
BGCAZ endeavors to help its members succeed in work and life through programs such as AZYouthforce, which connects teens to training and paid internships. The idea is to create equity for teens from under-resourced communities while building a robust and diverse workforce.
In 2020 and 2021, AZYouthforce participants completed nearly 15,000 hours of training and earned $219,000 in wages as part of 103 internships.
In addition, BGCAZ hosted thousands of youth for its popular summer programs and helped bridge the digital divide at its 21st-Century Community Learning Centers and through innovative esports and other tech-focused programs.
Good character and leadership
From character development to leadership skills programs, BGCAZ equips youth and teens with the tools they need to become responsible, caring adults and active, participating members of the community.
In 2020-2021, such programs helped youth refrain from criminal activity for an estimated single-year cost savings of $671,000. Parents also noted changes in their children’s behavior, with 94% believing their child formed positive relationships with other kids in the Club.
“These findings are significant,” Mintz said, “and they underscore that while our programs are designed to be fun, they also play a critical role in ensuring our kids’ academic, social and emotional success.”
Dr. Evans added, “We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of BGCAZ during the COVID-19 pandemic for frontline and essential workers. At least 1 in every 4 of the 5,800 new members that joined BGCAZ between March 2020 and July 2021 had a parent or caregiver serving as a frontline or essential worker. A comprehensive assessment of the social return on investment for this large subset of parents/caregivers was beyond the scope of our study. Nevertheless, the guaranteed availability of BGCAZ throughout the pandemic clearly helped these people to continue to work, and their children were also guaranteed access to the internet, meals, and a safe place to learn and socialize during a very difficult time for the community as a whole.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley offers affordable after-school and summer programs for more than 20,000 young people in grades K-12. At more than 30 Clubs across the Valley, BGCAZ provides award-winning programs designed to change the lives of young people. For nearly 75 years, BGCAZ has been creating equity and opportunity for youth through academic, social, and workforce opportunities. We help young people make healthy decisions and focus on social and emotional development to build resilient young adults. Most importantly, we work to develop strong character and leadership skills by creating positive connections with caring adults and their communities.