WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (May 23-29, 2011)

YOUTH SERVING ORGANIZATIONS

The Boys & Girls Club and High Tech? They Mix.” By Elizabeth Olson. New York Times. May 23, 2011. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which traces its history back 150 years to civic-minded Connecticut women who wanted to help get impoverished boys off the streets, is turning to 21st-century social media, including Twitter, to garner support for its mission. The organization wants to shed its “swim and gym” image and focus on its state-of-the-art technology offerings for students. Its principal supporters are mothers and other women, so it plans to appeal to them by holding its first Twitter party on Tuesday to spread word of its Club Tech centers, which provide computers, software and technology instruction. “We’re trying to get a broader awareness of our commitment to digital literacy. People know our name but they don’t necessarily know what we do,” said Cyndi Court, who leads the group’s marketing team. “These are critical vehicles for our audience,” she said of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, “because our messages get out in a real, timely and relevant way.” The Boys & Girls Club of America, which is a federation of nearly 4,000 local clubs, is reaching out to influential “mom” bloggers and other social media users. Its Facebook page (facesofthefuture.org) was upgraded last month and is now more interactive. The page includes information about children taking part in the club’s programs and links to a newly redesigned Web site (www.bgca.org) where people can learn more about its centers, which are mostly located in urban areas and serve many minority families. The Boys & Girls Club of America is based in Atlanta and has some federal funding. But, along with other youth organizations, it competes for contributions from the public and has been trying to sharpen its image and audience.

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