Excelsior Clubhouse is a tight-knit community with strong local roots and a deep commitment to neighborhood outreach. Many members have been Club kids for years and consider the space their second home. Clubhouse Director, Jennifer Snyder, has been in her current role for a decade; she not only knows every member who walks through the door, but oftentimes also knows their entire family by name.
“At Excelsior, staff ensure that every member feels valued, heard and understood. Our kids have a strong sense that their contributions matter here. This fosters a sense of ownership and pride that helps build confidence and ensures that all youth know that there is a place where they belong,”
Like all Clubs, Excelsior Clubhouse offers a holistic approach to youth development. In expanding members’ world through inspiration, skill building, positive adult and peer relationships and a strong focus on planning for the future. The organization-wide approach focuses on academic success, healthy lifestyles, good character, community engagement, and job readiness with earning potential.
Academic success, job readiness with earning potential, and college prep is the programmatic backbone of the thriving teen community at Excelsior. Here, teens know they are supported and are confident in advocating in their own voice. This support starts in Middle School with specific emphasis placed on sustaining youth through difficult transitional times - such as making the adjustment from Middle to High school.
Last month, Excelsior teens produced a mental health and wellness event, Health Is Wealth. Working in collaboration with staff from BGCSF’s Behavioral Health Services team, they researched and developed content, shared interactive activities, and provided access to resources that highlight the importance of prioritizing socioemotional health among members of the teen community. Check out their Health is Wealth presentation here.
With the goal of making this valuable information available to teens who live and go to school in the Excelsior neighborhood and beyond, the event was promoted throughout the BGCSF community and attended by members across the City.
This commitment to community outreach extends across every level of the Club. Over the summer, Elementary School members in the Flame Club leadership group created an inaugural Annual Book Fair, inviting the entire neighborhood to participate in a book donation event. Youth took ownership of the entire event, from creating the promotional materials and canvassing the neighborhood, to selecting the Clubhouse books to donate and setting up the event itself.
Neighborhood themes are also woven throughout the Club’s physical space. In the newly redesigned learning Center, a floor to ceiling mural depicts a vibrant STEM-inspired landscape. Look closely and you will see the neighborhood water tower landmark makes an appearance and the numbers on the calculator reflect the local zip code.
Excelsior Club kids also enjoy access to additional onsite creative resources. BGCSF’s partnership with Notes for Notes provides a high-quality recording studio onsite. Club members have the chance to learn a new instrument, write songs, and record music.
Through partnerships such as this and award-winning youth development programming, Excelsior staff build positive and close relationships and close with members. The Club is closely aligned with schools and highly values education, but the connection is more familiar and deeply reliant on forming strong relationships with the youth, and often with their families. From celebrating holidays, to displaying pictures, artwork and awards, the Clubhouse is indeed a second home for youth. Members regard the Club as “their” place because the programs and activities happen in a safe and familiar place that values and celebrates them and their contribution to the community.
BGCSF is currently offering free support and training to Black-serving and Black-led individuals and organizations participating in The Dream Keeper Initiative, a citywide effort launched in 2021 to reinvest $120 million over two years into San Francisco’s diverse Black communities.
April is Arab American Heritage Month and I am excited to both reflect on what this month means to me personally and share how BGCSF and Camp Mendocino engage Arab youth and their families.
We are pleased to highlight a member of our Senior Leadership Team, Erin Gutierrez. Erin has served the BGCSF community for 15 years. Her experience spans multiple roles across the organization and provides a powerful and unique perspective on the holistic impact of BGCSF.