This article (featuring Boys & Girls Clubs of Weber-Davis) is part of an ongoing series showcasing the diversity of businesses and local nonprofit organizations in Ogden funded by the Ogden CARES Grant Program. Ogden CARES was funded by the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). CRF could only fund, “necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19).” Ogden City used CRF from both Weber County and the State of Utah to fund the Ogden CARES program. Ogden City received three tapered rounds of CRF between Jun. through Nov. 2020 and, consequently, administered three rounds of Ogden CARES. This series highlights four Ogden CARES grantees adversely impacted by COVID-19 and how they received support from Ogden CARES. With help from Ogden CARES funds, Boys & Girls Clubs of Weber-Davis was able to open a drop-in center for teens who would otherwise have nowhere else to go after school or while schools were shut down due to the pandemic.
Read more about the Ogden CARES program in the first article in the series, the "Final Report."
Read about the first nonprofit featured in the series, "United Way of Northern Utah."
Read about the first for-profit business featured in the series, "Transcend Innovations."
Boys & Girls Clubs of Weber-Davis (BGCWD) provides services to youth after school—from youth in kindergarten to seniors in high school. Every day after school, club members can access general academic assistance, leadership modeling, subject-specific tutoring, and arts and STEM programming in preparation for a demanding and ever-changing workforce.
James Ebert, the executive director and CEO of BGCWD, said his organization ensures even youth who have challenges accessing these types of services—be it transportation, a financial situation, or other preventative factors—are given the opportunity to participate in afterschool programming.
“I really look at it as a youth development program,” he said, “and the organization provides different resources to help youth of all ages to develop academically, social-emotionally, and any other ways that they need.”
BGCWD operates in close cooperation with and follows the recommendations of the school district; as schools were shut down due to COVID, so too were the Clubs. When BGCWD was able to reopen, its ability to provide services to the population was diminished and average daily attendance was lower—unfortunate, Ebert said, because youth particularly needed somewhere to go during a time of personal, social, and academic turbulence. According to Ebert, the most significant impact of COVID was to students who couldn’t access BGCWD services.
On the business side, BGCWD suffered a loss in the development dollars typically used to help provide its services, including decreases in grants from both the state and federal government and in donations from both private and public foundations. Additionally, BGCWD was unable to hold its annual fundraising events, like its golf tournament or its annual gala called The Scarecrow Extravaganza.
However, according to Ebert, lower overall access to funding isn’t even the biggest hurdle for his organization.
“The primary pain we’ve had, and continue to have, is its extremely difficult in this environment to hire staff, and retain staff,” he said. “COVID really exacerbated that; there were individuals who didn’t feel like they wanted or were able to work. There was also a feeling that being around people, especially in a classroom setting, was something people didn’t want to be involved in; people who usually would have applied didn’t because they were concerned about staying home.”
Ebert usually employs a team of between 40-45, but he said the number of staff members lost in the last six to eight months has been dramatic.
BGCWD also realized teens largely had nowhere to go as schools shut down, and, at the time, BGCWD wasn’t offering any teen-specific sites in Ogden. After relocating to a new building, BGCWD opened up a drop-in center, and it was able to coordinate with school administrators to let the teens know they had somewhere to go for the aforementioned programming or if they just needed a place for even a modicum of social interaction outside the home.
Among the youth at BGCWD, Ebert said COVID’s biggest influence is a sense of isolation—especially for students in junior high and high school.
“These kids are super social. Many of them learn through social interaction; they gain self-esteem and value through social interaction, and we’ve seen a huge challenge with youth, especially teens, in dealing with the isolation,” Ebert said. “In our organization, at a staffing level, we hire people as Youth Development Professionals, who are usually 18 to 22. Even they have experienced some of this stress of social isolation, and the Clubs have been really good for them to come to work, have class, and interact.”
This teen drop-in program was funded in part by the money BGCWD received through Ogden CARES. Ebert said his organization is appreciative of Ogden City and Weber County coming together to streamline the Ogden Cares Grant approval process for nonprofits so BGCWD could focus on identifying areas of need instead of “chasing money.” As Ebert put it, “what areas had specifically been affected by COVID, and how much funding would be required to cover those gaps?”