Boys and Girls Club funding issues explained by Ackerman

In a recent article featured in the Carbon County News, Anne-Marie FoisyGrusonik of the Red Lodge Boys and Girls Club (BGC) discussed the current financial crisis the Club was facing. In what was described as the “perfect storm,” Foisy-Grusonik asked readers to help alleviate the situation in any way possible. To further investigate the circumstances, CCN asked BGC Executive Director, Jody Ackerman the following questions:

Can you explain what Foisy-Grusonik quotes as the “perfect storm” and how the club got to this point, on the verge of closure? Was there a grant that fell through? Too many costs, fewer kids signing up, etc.? The Merriam-Webster definition of a perfect storm is “a critical situation created by a powerful concurrence of factors”. Wikipedia describes it as “an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically”. That is what happened to the Boys & Girls Club. Over the past few years, due to the uncertain economy, the pool of funding sources for operating costs has shrunk. For example, large grants we had identified in our ten year financial plan are no longer available, foundations the Club had partnered with in the past are no longer able to offer the funding amounts they once did, individual donors have had to scale back in their giving, and fundraisers h a v e n ’t b r o u g h t t h e increased income necessary to meet budgetary goals. Although a necessary increase in costs due to the building renovation project had been identified in the ten-year budget projections, the additional income projected has not come through, due to the reasons stated above. It is so sad to see that when we finally have the facility and professional staff necessary to provide an excellent service to area youth, we can’t find the funds to maintain our goals. As far as costs go, the Club has consistently spent less than the approved budget each year for the past five years. Membership fees were never intended to provide major funding to the Club, so the number of enrolled youth is not a financial factor. Until recently, membership fees remained at a minimal $10 per year for all the services offered. We realized that it was important for the people that enjoy and use our services to contribute as they could, so we raised the fees to $100 for summer activities and $50 for school-year programs. Any family that cannot afford these fees can still apply for scholarship assistance. We feel that families who can afford these fees should support the services their children enjoy.

What is the club/staff doing to help raise money and in essence save the organization from closing its doors in Red Lodge and Roberts, assuming that program is also affected? Club staff have consistently participated in all fundraising efforts and 100% of the Staff and Board have donated financially to the Club.

Are there ways to cut costs and budget to be able to remain open ( i.e. fewer days/hours open)? If  funding doesn’t come through, we will naturally have to make some serious cutbacks. We would have to let go of all our part-time staff and the three remaining full time staff would have to absorb all of the duties done by the part time personnel. This would only be sustainable for a short period of time.

It isn’t possible to maintain the excellent programs and opportunities the Club now offers with so few staff who are also responsible for maintaining the organization. The Club would naturally have to cut back on days open and services offered, so remaining staff could complete administrative tasks. The Club would operate Monday, Wednesday and Friday so staff could clean and complete reporting/administrative tasks on Tuesday and Thursday. Of course this would have a snowball effect on the ability to increase funding to bring programs and services back to what they are now. Boys & Girls Clubs of America mandate that to remain affiliated with them, the Club must be open at least 4 hours per day, five days per week for ten months. Naturally, with fewer days open, there would be less time for programs so fewer programs would be offered, further limiting the ability to increase funding for programs.

What would the consequences be if the club had to close its doors, is there an alternative to closing completely? If the Club had to close its doors completely Carbon County would have to find alternative programs for kids to engage in after school and during the summer. The Club is the only existing program that serves area youth five days per week throughout the year. That’s five days per week that working parents, grandparents, etc. will have to make arrangements for their kids to assure that they aren’t going home unsupervised, with no assurance that they are doing their homework, eating nutritious snacks, getting exercise and engaging in safe, enriching activities. Kids left with unsupervised time are susceptible to engaging in risky behaviors.