Serving youth with emphasis on those facing the greatest need and risk has been our focus since 1936!
The Schenectady Boys' Club was founded in 1936, by a volunteer group of local community leaders, in an effort to halt a rapid rise of vandalism and delinquency. Originally, the club was housed in a one room store on Front Street and membership was comprised of seven boys known as the "Wildcat Gang." Our first Executive Director was Rockwood Jenkins. "Rock" served as Executive Director until 1943. In 1937, our club was incorporated and affiliated with Boys' Club of America. We became locally controlled by a legally incorporated body, governed by a duly elected Board of Directors and approved under Section 50l(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. The club membership grew rapidly and the Front Street location had to be abandoned for larger quarters on Green Street. In 1941 we then found our home of 45 years at 411-413 Union Street. From 1943 to 1957 Paul "Chief' S. Young was Executive Director of the Schenectady Boys' Club.
The Rotterdam Club was started in the Fisher Methodist Church in 1949. In 1951 it moved into its own building, which is the present location of the club at 721 Curry Road. The Carman Club began in 1955 and had carried on activities at the Herman L. Bradt School and at Pinewood School until 1990. The Camp Lovejoy property was purchased by our Board of Directors in 1957. It is named after Jesse R. Lovejoy, past Honorary President and loyal supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs.
From 1957 until his retirement in 1986 Vincent "Vince" C. Mastrofrancisoo served as Executive Director. In the spring of 1962, a Capital Funds Campaign to increase and improve club facilities was conducted. More than $375,000 was made available for this purpose, due to the wonderful support of thousands of our citizens. Playing an important part in supporting the club program, is the Auxiliary of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady. Furthermore over l,000 adults contribute directly to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady and/or are members of our affiliated adult groups, working towards increasing opportunities for youth development programs for the children in our community.
In March 1974, after careful study and through a unique proposal of collaboration of several sources of funding, two additional units were organized -- one in Mont Pleasant and the other in Hamilton Hill (today's Mont Pleasant and the former Craig Street clubhouse). During the spring and summer of 1974, the Job Junction, a youth employment service, was organized and implemented.
In the late seventies drug, alcohol and teen pregnancy prevention programs were instituted. Today we serve kids in similar programs known as SMARTmoves. In 1980 Boys & Girls Clubs of America presented this organization with 1st place National Honors in Programming, for our Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program.
In 1986, we celebrated 50 years of service to Schenectady County youths. Also, programming efforts continued its aim to those children who needed the most help and guidance: Targeted Outreach, a program aimed at at-risk youths; and Job Development Programs geared to the 16-21 year old young adults who were under-employed and in need of basic employment skills training were developed.
In September of 1988, after months of study and research, the Board of Directors upon the recommendation of the Operational Planning Committee, sold the Union Street facility, allowing the Boys & Girls Clubs to better serve those children that most needed our services. Administrative offices and Job Junction programs were moved to our Craig Street facility. In 1989, we were again given National Recognition for programming in Cultural Enrichment. We were awarded 1st place honors in Minneapolis for the STAGE program (Schenectady Teen Acting Guild, Etc.) In 1993 we were again rewarded for outstanding Citizenship & Leadership Development programming.
In June of 1990, with funds from the Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority and in collaboration with Project Pride, the Steinmetz and Yates Village clubs were opened followed in 199l by the MacGathan Townhouse Apartment Boys & Girls Club. This was done to meet the needs of children who were increasingly affected by the negative aspects of the Housing Authority communities. In August of 1990, the Board of Directors voted to change the name of the Schenectady Boys' Club to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady. This change was made to truly recognize the work of the organization and recognize the girls who have been as much as 35 to 50% of our membership since 1974.
In 1994 programs were added at Schenectady High. School and in then 1995 programs were added at Mont Pleasant Middle Schools and the City & Schools Academy. These programs were part of a School Safety Program to prevent violence and negative behaviors in our schools. In 1999 through. 2002 we were selected, by Boys & Girls Clubs of America, as a Taco Bell Teen Supreme Center and as a pilot site for the "A World Of Difference"program with the Anti-Defamation League.
In 2000 we were selected as a TEENSsupreme Career Prep Employment Program site by Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Our "A World of Difference Program" led to our nomination and selection as the 2001 Program of the Year by the Schenectady Human Rights Commission. In2006 we were asked to be the sole operators of Quackenbush Park in Schenectady. After examining the community need and our capacity for extending ourselves in this way to the community the board of directors gave the go ahead. Our success during the season was noted by the City Council where we received the Community Pride Award of outstanding programs.
The success of the after school programs has also spread to Schenectady's Central Park and Oneida Schools where we opened two new Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady extensions in early 2006. We also opened Schenectady High. and Central Park Middle Schools as extension sites in 2007. Three elementary programs opened in2008 at Woodlawn, Pleasant Valley and Martin Luther King schools.
In late 2007 a grant was secured in conjunction with the Schenectady City School District that re established mentoring as a priority with a multi-year grant to support PROMISES mentoring. In 2008 we served more than 3,700 members and more than 6000 additional girls and boys from all over Schenectady County and Fulton County with programs in and outside of our Clubhouses. The Clubs serve all youths regardless of income, religion, race, color, creed, sexual orientation. We are the largest agency provider of services to youth from disadvantaged circumstances in Schenectady County during after school hours, evenings and when school is not in session.