By Matthew Troy
At the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens, we know being a parent can be tough. But parenting in 2017 presents a unique set of challenges. An increasing dependence on technology and social media can make it difficult to hold a child’s attention.
Media outlets broadcast distressing news and negative influences to our kids nearly 24/7. These distractions can result in behavioral issues and poor school performance. Parents are dealing with these challenges while the cost of living continues to increase, which makes raising children especially difficult for the many single parents in our community.
But despite these challenges, parents in our community have high expectations for their kids and are committed to providing them with the best education possible. They understand the value of the diverse community we live in and the importance of out-of-school-time enrichment and extracurricular activities.
At Variety, we work closely with our parents to help them meet the challenges of raising and educating their children and take advantage of the many resources our city has to offer.
The benefits of parental involvement in education are well-documented. But research also shows that afterschool programs form an important bridge between parents and schools. According to Mark R. Warren, associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, community-based organizations help parents form connections with their children’s schools, even in communities where parental involvement is typically low.
Some of the benefits of parental involvement in education include higher grades and test scores, higher attendance rates, better social skills and adaptability, and higher graduation rates. Community-based organizations help make these gains happen.
This is where businesses come in to the equation. Did you know that in New York State every $1 invested in Boys & Girls Clubs results in $7.94 in economic benefits for our community? That’s $541 million annually!
A 2015 study by the University of Michigan also found that clubs like ours help to increase the earning potential of our families. We accomplish this by preparing today’s youth for tomorrow’s careers through academic tutoring, leadership development, and exciting programs like coding, engineering, and media. Businesses know how important it is for local candidates to have 21st Century, specialized skills.
There are also productivity gains for our parents who benefit from having a safe and affordable option for their kids while at work. Our doors stay open for children until 9 p.m. each day. It’s likely that your employees are able to work the hours they do because of programs like ours.
The largest economic benefits are realized through reduced alcohol consumption and improved grades for our members. Overall, club members will accrue $103.7 million in benefits over their lifetimes and their parents will gain $436.8 million from job retention and increased earnings. As earning potential grows so do families’ ability to buy local goods and services as well as avoid the need for government services, which lessens the need to raise taxes. Everyone benefits.
At the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens, we are committed to giving our families every advantage possible. As Variety looks toward the future, we aim to create even more meaningful opportunities to prepare our youth for future job opportunities and, also, to train their parents to take on new roles in the workforce. Community engagement will be one of our top priorities as our club continues to grow and we look forward to partnering with many of the terrific businesses in the Queens Chamber.
Matthew Troy is executive director of the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens, the largest youth development program in Western Queens, serving over 4000 students ages 6-17 through afterschool, summer programs, swim classes, and weekend workshops. To learn more, visit VBGCQ.org