ATLANTA, May 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For the first time in America's history, today's teens are estimated to be worse off than their parents. Factors including academic performance, drug use, health and wellness, and youth-related violence require action for teens and the future of our country. To help reverse these and other negative trends affecting teens, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and Taco Bell Foundation convened the first-ever Teen Advocacy Day during BGCA's 109th National Conference in Chicago.
"Today's world demands more of our youth but it also makes it easier for them to lose their way," said Jim Clark, President and CEO for BGCA. "Boys & Girls Clubs are uniquely positioned to lead the way toward a solution. As the largest facilities-based youth-serving organization with a 150-year history serving young people, we have the scale, reach and depth of knowledge to make an impact. As youth development leaders, we have a responsibility to raise the dialogue around teens and bring together other thought leaders in the philanthropic, corporate, government & academic sectors to galvanize the nation toward engaging teens and propelling this next generation forward to the great future they deserve."
The facts are daunting: One in five students, and a third of minority students, will not graduate from high school, representing a projected cost of $159 billion during their lifetimes; and more than 1.4 million juveniles are arrested annually at a projected cost of about $2.5 billion a year to our nation's economy. To tackle these issues, more than 2,500 community leaders, America's teens, thought leaders and key stakeholders joined together during the Teen Advocacy Day and committed to improving the future for teens.
"There's a lot that goes into helping teens succeed, but there is no issue more important to our brand than supporting America's teens and we're committed to doing something meaningful," said Brian Niccol, CEO for Taco Bell Corp. "We want this generation to be able to follow their passion, and that starts with high school graduation and seeking opportunities to learn and educate themselves so they can achieve their dreams and success. It's what we at Taco Bell are working to do with terrific partners like the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. We're excited to put our energy and commitment behind the great ideas shared during Teen Advocacy Day."
Teen Advocacy Day included the "Teen Great Think," BGCA's signature thought leadership forum presented by Taco Bell Foundation, which convened teens and experts from across philanthropic, corporate, government and academic sectors in an authentic dialogue about empowering teens to achieve the futures they deserve. Discussions emphasized the importance of providing resources and support in the areas of passion-point programming, college access, 21st century leadership skills and workforce development. During the session, roundtable dialogues among representatives from all sectors sought to generate ideas and approaches to tackle these topics and drive meaningful change. The dialogue produced the following key insights, which will be further elaborated upon in the release of the Teen Great think white paper this fall:
- Engaging teens and giving them a voice in developing programs and resources to ensure they are relevant and reflective of their perspective and their needs.
- Expanding Clubs' footprint in the digital space to meet teens where they are and enable unlimited access to cutting edge resources and programs.
- Developing a clear pathway to empower and inspire teens toward igniting their passions, increasing access to higher education and developing workforce skills by leveraging community and corporate partnerships.
Historic Partnership for Teens
For two decades, BGCA has partnered with Taco Bell Foundation to make teen empowerment a national priority. As a leader in youth development during out-of-school time, BGCA is "redefining the opportunity equation" by leveraging the power of after-school and summer programs, and its partnership with Taco Bell Foundation to inspire and empower more youth toward success.
Taco Bell Foundation, the largest corporate 501(c)3 focused on inspiring teens to achieve their full potential and a subsidiary of one of the nation's largest teen employers, joined forces with BGCA to focus on helping teens during the hours after school and during summer – the most critical and overlooked time when teens are most in need. Taco Bell Foundation expanded the partnership in 2014 to a historical $30 million commitment to BGCA to empower teens on their journey to graduation. The flagship partnership is a significant force toward BGCA achieving its outcome goal to help 1.4 million Club teens stay on track to graduate by 2018, which represents an estimated $8 billion in economic impact.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,100 Clubs serve nearly 4 million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at http://www.bgca.org/facebook and http://bgca.org/twitter.
About Taco Bell Foundation
Taco Bell Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation committed to inspiring and enabling America's teens to achieve más through its programs, partnerships, and direct financial assistance. Every year, the Foundation serves more than 1 million teens in more than 180 communities across the country and awards more than 300 grants and scholarships focused on education and career preparedness. Since 1992, the Foundation has awarded more than $75 million in support of more than 1,000 teen-serving organizations in the U.S. through customer, franchisee, employee and vendor-partner donations. For more information visit tacobellforteens.org, and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TacoBell4Teens.
SOURCE Boys & Girls Clubs of America