Among 4,600 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, the Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield received a National Honor Award for Best Overall Education Program and a National Merit Award for Program Excellence in the core area of Health and Life Skills at Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Virtual National Conference.
The organization received a $5,000 award and a $2,500 award from MetLife Foundation, sponsor of the annual recognition program, which honors local Clubs for innovative, effective programming leading youth to great futures. Hundreds of entries were submitted in the five core program areas: Leadership & Service; Education; Health & Wellness; the Arts; and Sports & Recreation.
The National Honor Award for Best Overall Education Program recognizes Clubs that develop education programs which complement and reinforce what youth learn during the school day by providing opportunities to practice skills for academic and post-secondary success. These programs allow youth to practice, plan and prepare for their futures. BGCR was specifically recognized for their ongoing efforts to develop and implement education programs that are rooted in social-emotional development practices, enable all youth to be effective, engaged, and adaptive learners who are on track to a great future, and create experiences that invite all youth to fall in love with learning.
“We have worked really hard over the past decade to ensure that our programs are inclusive of all types of learners. We view our programs as an extension of the school day, particularly our after-school program. As an informal learning space, the Club has a unique ability to use a ‘hands-on and minds-on’ approach to learning and enrichment, which provides our Club members with the opportunity to discover and pursue passions that connect to future experiences” explained Kristin Goncalves, Associate Executive Director at the Club. “We truly value ourselves as partners of the Ridgefield Public School System, and work side-by-side with school administration, support professionals, teachers, and parents to help our Club members succeed academically.”
The Merit Award for Program Excellence in Health & Wellness recognizes programs that focus on building the physical, social and emotional wellness of youth. These programs provide opportunities for youth to practice skills for building healthy relationships, regulating emotions, decision-making and solving problems. The Ridgefield Club was recognized for their Positive Sprouts Gardening and SMART Cooking programs, which teach Club members valuable life skills, like sustainability and self-reliance through food preparation and cooking, garden preparation and maintenance, food safety, the importance of feeding your body with nutritious and delicious food.
These programs aid members in discovering their self-worth, being confident in that discovery, and honoring who they are. “In a world of technology, it is so important to connect children and teens to the beauty and benefits of living simply, along with providing them with all of the resources necessary to empower their young minds and allow them to realize their full potential,” explained Jess Podrazky, Senior Program Director at the Club.
The Honor and Merit Awards for Program Excellence are Boys & Girls Clubs of America's (BGCA) most coveted and prestigious program awards. These awards recognize local Clubs from throughout the Movement for their achievements in outstanding local program development. Award-winning programs are fun, demonstrate imagination and are linked to observable youth development outcomes that lead youth to great futures at Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. With the addition of these two awards, the Ridgefield Club has now been recognized a total of seven times in the past six years. Previously, the Club was the recipient of the National Honor Award for Best Overall Program in 2015, the National Merit Award for Character and Leadership Development in 2016, the National Merit Award for The Arts in 2017, The National Merit Award for Health and Life Skills in 2018, and the National Honor Award for Best Character & Leadership Development Program in 2019.
“We are so honored and proud to be recognized by BGCA. Our Club continues to grow and improve year after year, and we have been able to impact more young lives as a result. We are fortunate to have one of the most talented youth development staff in the country, and it is with the help of our donors and supporters that allows us to employ the best of the best. These awards really go to the people of Ridgefield. Their belief and support is what allows us to thrive,” stated Mike Flynn, Chief Executive Officer at the Club.
The Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield’s mission is to inspire and enable all youth to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. The Club builds programing around priority outcome areas: academic success, healthy lifestyles, and good character and leadership, providing program opportunities for 2,300 members and more than 5,100 young people each year. “In communities nationwide, Boys & Girls Clubs play a vital role in providing young people with safe places to learn and grow,” said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “We are pleased to recognize the Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield, CT for providing exemplary programs and making a positive difference in the lives of local young people.”
The Merit Awards for Program Excellence are sponsored by Metlife Foundation, and as an honoree we will also receive a $2,500 award. There are over 4,300 Boys & Girls Club Nationwide and Overseas and we are proud to once again be recognized for our amazing locally developed programs. We couldn't do it without all of our donors, supporters, and amazing staff - thank you for helping us continue to provide our members with award winning programs.
About the Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield
The Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield is a fully dedicated youth development facility. The mission of the Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield is to inspire and enable all young people to reach their full potential as caring, productive, and responsible citizens. The Ridgefield Club has been serving the community since 1936.
Each day at the Club we provide youth development programming in five core areas: Sports, Fitness & Recreation, the Arts, Education & Career Preparation, Health & Life Skills, and Character & Leadership Development. Members of the Club participate in activities in our five core areas that encourage increased learning, improved fitness, positive decision making, creativity, leadership, and community service. As part of the National Boys & Girls Club movement, we are able to utilize high quality programs grounded in years of research. Programming activities are scheduled each day and are free to all Club members.
About MetLife Foundation
MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 to continue MetLife’s longstanding tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Since it was established, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $600 million in grants to nonprofit organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities. For more information visit www.metlife.org.