Partnership leads to new shared facility

Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Clarita Valley, Santa Clarita, CA

A popular program joins forces with the school and community to meet demand.

The Challenge
For the Boys & Girls Club of the Santa Clarita Valley, the popularity of the Sierra Vista Clubhouse was something of a mixed blessing. The clubhouse was operating out of a small building on a corner of Sierra Vista Middle School's campus. The program's popularity had the clubhouse operating at its capacity, serving between 40 to 45 youth each day, with 250 members each year. But because of a steady growth in population among school-age youth and a lack of alternative programs in the surrounding neighborhood, the clubhouse could not meet the community's needs. Plus, despite the clubhouse's popularity with elementary school students, it had a difficult time drawing in older youth, who especially needed alternatives to steer them away from the neighborhood's increasing gang activity.

The Partnership Solution
The director and board members of the Santa Clarita Valley Boys & Girls Club decided they needed a larger facility to meet the growing demand. The board formed a committee to find another site for a larger clubhouse, but they soon realized the middle school location was the most accessible to the youth and parents. The committee approached the district superintendent and school principal about expanding the existing facility. Unfortunately, though the school found the club an invaluable resource, it was also stretched to its physical capacity.

In talking with the superintendent and the principal, Boys & Girls Club leaders realized that the club and the school had some needs in common. The school needed four to five classrooms with state-of-the-art science labs and a larger gymnasium. The club needed classrooms to expand programming and access to a gymnasium. From their work with other stakeholders in the community, they learned that there were additional unmet needs. For example, the community needed alternatives to gang activity, parents needed a safe place for their children to go after school, the city needed use of the school's recreation field for baseball leagues, the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) chapter needed a base for their headquarters and use of the school's recreation field, and the local scouting troop needed a regular meeting place. The district, school and Boys & Girls Club decided to work together and pool their resources to build a large, shared-use facility on the middle school campus that would serve all of the stakeholders' needs.

The design phase was an eight-month process involving the Boys & Girls Club leadership, district superintendent, school principal, clubhouse activity leaders and line staff, and teachers and instructional aides at the school. Together, these stakeholders agreed on a number of decisions, such as the physical layout of the classrooms and how to create separate entrances for the club and the school. The design took into consideration the needs governing shared space and separate space. For instance, locked cabinets were installed in the shared classrooms so the teachers and club staff would have secure places to store their separate materials. The collaboration even extended to technology resources. The school and the club each purchased 16 new computers to provide the computer center with 32 new computers for the students.

Funding the project was also a collaborative endeavor. The school secured federal funding that supports public-private partnerships and emergency funding for school construction. The club obtained private foundation funding for which the school, as a government agency, was ineligible, and also raised funds within the community. The school, district and Boys & Girls Club also solicited financial support from their stakeholders, including the city, AYSO chapter and scouting troop.

Coming to an agreement among the various stakeholders as to how the new facility and classrooms would be used was a final, but critical, step in this process. The school, district and club leaders hammered out a Memorandum of Understanding outlining their agreement about the shared use of the facilities, such as the timing of the transition from school use to club use, who would be responsible for the maintenance, and how the cost for utilities could be divided.

By combining their resources and gaining financial support from their community stakeholders, the Boys & Girls Club of the Santa Clarita Valley and Sierra Vista Middle school were able to construct a facility worth $6.2 million that features an art center, computer lab, learning center, science lab, activity center and gymnasium. Membership in the club has expanded to more than 2,000, with 250 to 300 youth visiting the clubhouse each day, and the club has been able to fulfill its mission of attracting older youth. Currently, 40 percent of the club members are teenagers.

Applying the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley's Success at Your Program

  1. Find out who the key stakeholders are and identify common needs.
  2. Ask all of the stakeholders who would benefit from the collaboration to pitch in and share their resources.
  3. Keep the focus of the partnership on the group of stakeholders who will truly benefit from the collaboration for the children. Said Boys & Girls Club director Jim Ventress, "The first thing that we agreed on is that these are not just the junior high school's kids or the Boys & Girls Club's kids; these are our kids. That really set the tone [for the partnership] and kept the focus on the youth of our community."

About the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley
The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley is a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a nonprofit, non-sectarian organization. The Boys & Girls Club Santa Clarita Valley serves more than 3,500 young people between the ages of 7 and 17 each year.

For more ideas about where you can find resources to improve the facilities at your program, check out The Finance Project's strategy brief "Financing Facility Improvements for Out-of-School Time." (PDF)