MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – What once made Memphis a pioneer for the Boys & Girls Club of America could be the inspiration that helps kids become career-ready across the country.
The Boys & Girls Club of America recently announced its new youth agenda which acknowledges its shift in building a strong workforce.
Memphis was a leader in that when 14 years ago it opened the Juice Plus+ Technical Training Center. In the facility, students learn skills in career-tracks such as logistics, automotive, culinary, welding, and IT. At the time, it was the first-of-its-kind in the country for the Boys & Girls Club.
Keith Blanchard, the Greater Memphis President & CEO, said they’ve seen the center pay off. In the last eight years, Blanchard said their high school seniors have had a 100% graduation rate.
“Which is really impressive, and in this particular facility we average about 400 kids a year, 450 kids a year, and 100% of them have either gone on to college, entered the workforce, or gone into the military, or some sort of combination. So we’ve been able to prove overtime that it works,” he said.
The hope is to open more centers around the country. Blanchard said they’ve spoken and taken many trips to Washington D.C. to show the national organization how they’ve operated. He’s been thrilled with the shift in focus by the organization.
“It really showed that we were on the right track and we’ve been on the right track for a long time. That’s why we’ve been a critical part in helping form the national agenda as far as workforce goes. We’ve had clubs from all over the United States come here to tour our facility, see what we’re doing,” he said.
The Boys & Girls Club serves on President Trump’s recently created American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. It’s the only youth-serving non-profit organization of the 24 members. The board was developed to expand access to workforce and education programs.
“To solve the challenges we face as a nation, to effectively prepare and equip a skilled workforce, we must start by investing in young people early. Recognizing the time kids spend after school and during the summer as critical for ensuring prosperity and equity for all young people, is just the first step in bringing solutions for our youth,” President & CEO of Boys & Girls Club of America said in a statement.