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Since Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee was first founded in 1887, Leadership & Service programming has been a primary focus of the Clubs’ mission. Through these programs, members are encouraged to take personal responsibility for their actions and are given leadership roles within their Club. They are also introduced to community service – a critical element of this programming.

Leadership & Service programs are available to members of all ages and take a variety of forms from gender-specific programming to interest-based clubs located within each clubhouse.

“I gained a lot of confidence at the Club. The Clubs encouraged me to speak up and realize that I have ideas and that what I say is of value.”

Adella Deacon, LaVarnway Boys & Girls Clubs alumni

The G.I.R.L.S Leadership Cohort is an all-girls program with a focus on self-esteem, self-awareness, mental health, career development, leadership, social justice issues and many other topics dedicated to empowering young ladies. The goal is to bring girls together and work to help them realize their full potential as leaders in their home, schools and communities. Girls are encouraged to join this program as a way to connect, build and grow with one another. Girls who participate and complete the program will receive a certificate and the chance to create long lasting friendships and mentorships. This program is for girls ages 9 and up. Our program is now virtual. Click here to register today!

Please contact LaQuita Grinnage at for more information about the G.I.R.L.S Leadership Cohort.

Keystone & Torch Clubs

In these programs, participants build character and leadership through a focus on community service and academic success. Both Keystone and Torch Clubs are free to members.

Keystone Club

This unique leadership development program provides opportunities for youth ages 14-18 to participate in activities in three focus areas: Academic success, career preparation and community service. Under the guidance of an adult advisor, this program aims to have a positive impact on members, the Clubs and the community. Keystone Club activities include at least five community service projects annually, staffing a snack stand at the Clubs each week and participating in college visits and tours.

Annually, Boys & Girls Clubs of America hosts the National Keystone Conference, an event that brings together members from across the globe. During the conference, participants engage and socialize with peers, explore important social issues and develop skills to support and enhance efforts in their local Boys & Girls Clubs and communities.

Torch Club

This program helps meet the character development needs of adolescents ages 9-13. Torch Club members elect officers and work together to implement activities in four areas: Service to the Club and community; education; health and fitness; and social recreation. Projects may include neighborhood cleanups, raising money for field trips and educational opportunities, and organizing food drives.

National Torch Club Awards are presented annually to Clubs with outstanding programs and activities. Each year, participants from across the country take part in a service learning experience through the National Torch Club Project. Cash awards ranging from $500 to $2,500 are presented to the top entries.

The Youth of the Year program dates back to 1947 and celebrates youth who have overcome enormous odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments. Those selected are recognized for service to their Club and community, academic performance and contributions to their families.

Participants are chosen on both local and state levels. From those participants, five regional winners are selected to meet every September in Washington, D.C. to compete for the National Youth of the Year title. Five judges interview each candidate and select the winner based on scholastic achievement, community service, leadership ability, and consideration of any physical, social or emotional obstacles that were overcome.

All five regional winners are honored at a Congressional Breakfast on Capitol Hill and have an opportunity to meet the President of the United States in the White House. In addition, each regional winner receives a $10,000 scholarship and the National Youth of the Year receives an additional college scholarship totaling up to $50,000. Each state winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship. Scholarships are made possible by Tupperware Brands Corporation and The Rick and Susan Goings Foundation.

For further information, contact LaQuita Grinnage:

Bally Sports Wisconsin is a long-standing supporter of the BGCGM Youth of the Year program.

2021 Youth of the Year

Bally Sports Wisconsin

2022 Youth of the Year

Amelia Ramos, 2022 Youth of the Year

Amillia Bell – Rufus King International High School

Amillia Bell’s love of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee is at her core. Amillia attended after-school programing from age 4 to 18. In those years, she says the Clubs helped her grow confidence and curiosity – two traits she hopes to someday use as a lawyer. Her interest in criminal justice and the legal system sparked during her participation in Street Law, which is a partnership program between BGCGM and Foley and Lardner LLP. Following her high school graduation in May 2022, Amillia plans to study political science and psychology before attending law school.