Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia 



Organizational mission statement (50 words or less): 

Brief description of organization (include key programs and recent achievements, 100 words or less):


Population served (25 words or less):


Geographic area(s) served: 

In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is your organization’s work primarily? 


Does the organization already receive support from or otherwise engage life science companies? If so, how? 

Please outline existing volunteer opportunities or programs & initiatives that harness human capital including any current virtual volunteer events:


Please outline proposed or potential future volunteer opportunities or programs & initiatives that harness human capital including any planned virtual volunteer events:  



Please signify the type of support you are requesting from Life Science Cares: 

Programming (existing)

Project Title: 

STEM Learning Labs

Total Project Budget (if applicable): 


Requested Amount [note that first year partners will generally be awarded $10k]: 


In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is the requested project’s work? 


Description of Need (What is the issue you plan to address? What are the demographics and number of people you plan to serve, if applicable?): 

Philadelphia is the poorest of the nation’s large cities, putting youth at risk for academic, social, and health issues.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia understand that later success in life is intrinsically linked to the development of academic, social, health, and life skills. To achieve our mission of enabling all young people, especially those who need us the most, to meet their full potential as productive, caring responsible citizens, it is essential that we provide them with the tools and resources they need to develop into well-educated, active members of their community. Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia creates a safe, friendly, and academic environment for Philadelphia’s most disadvantaged children to reach their full potential. Over 9,600 children benefit each year from Boys & Girls Clubs services. In 2014, recognizing the need for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs in our communities, we introduced our STEM Learning Labs. Our STEM programs bridge the gap between the lack of school resources and the growing science and mathematics job industry. STEM-related fields are among the fastest growing industries, with an expected growth of 10.6 percent from 2016 to 2026; likewise, 95 percent of STEM workers have postsecondary education and training, larger than any other field of work.

However, within the entire U.S. STEM workforce, minorities account for only about 20 percent of employees, primarily due to the lack of resources and preparation within schools. In Philadelphia, this despair is broadened by a lack of higher education among the city’s poorest residents. City-wide, just 69 percent of youth in Philadelphia graduate high school, however, in the communities we serve, the on-time graduation rates plummet below 50 percent. For our youth to step forward as future leaders in the STEM workforce, we must ensure that youth build a healthy foundation today. Despite these bleak statistics, our youth still have hope for a brighter future.


According to the National Youth Outcomes Survey, 91 percent of teens attending our Clubs plan to enroll in college; however, in our communities just 13 percent of elementary school students were proficient in math and 26 percent were proficient in science. For high school youth, the science proficiency rate dropped drastically to just 10 percent. Additionally, across Philadelphia only 26 percent of public-school students enroll in college, and of those only 10 percent earn a degree. Unfortunately, this results in many of Philadelphia’s young people being locked out of STEM fields from an early age.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing educational inequities, putting Philadelphia’s youth at greater risk than ever for becoming disengaged from school. On March 16th, 2020, the School District of Philadelphia shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Youth attending the city’s schools did not have access to virtual learning resources until May 4th. In response to the growing and changing needs of our kids and communities, Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia immediately adapted our programs and services. We launched our Virtual Digital Experiences for Youth (DEFY) Club in April, engaging over 550 youth in STEM, Literacy and Social Recreation programming during the state-mandated shutdown period. At the same time, we began providing emergency meals to ensure that youth and families did not go hungry, as many lost income and access to meals typically served by schools. Since March 23rd, 2020, we have provided over 159,000 emergency meals at 15 locations throughout the city. While working to meet the immediate needs of our communities, we also prepared our Clubs to reopen, following all local and CDC safety regulations. On July 6th, we reopened for in-person programming, serving 384 youth through summer camps at 9 locations. With the School District of Philadelphia offering no i- person instruction until further notice, we have adapted our operating model and are currently providing full-day programming to over 560 youth at 15 locations throughout Philadelphia. Through our full-day “Access Center” programming, we ensure that youth have access to reliable internet to participate in virtual learning, support youth as they participate in the virtual school day, and provide hands-on enrichment activities to help youth stay engaged and curious. At a time when Philadelphia’s youth face a cascade of economic, social, and emotional challenges, our Clubs provide the academic and social-emotional support that young people need to thrive.

Specific Activities (Please detail what activities you intend to undertake as a result of the grant. Include information about service delivery and timelines.): 

During the 2020-21 program year, our STEM Learning Labs will support youth during the virtual school day and

engage youth in hands-on STEM activities after school hours. Overall, we expect to serve at least 900 youth through our STEM Learning Labs programs from September 2020 to August 2021. Currently, we have enrolled over 560 youth at 15 full-day Access Centers throughout Philadelphia. These locations include 6 Boys & Girls Club facilities, 8 Philadelphia Housing Authority partnership sites, and one Charter School extension site. At all 15 locations, staff trained in STEM programming are available to support youth during the virtual school day and provide fun STEM-based enrichment during break periods.

While the Housing Authority Partnership sites only provide programming during normal school hours, our Club sites and Charter School extension site continue operating after school, serving youth until 6pm daily. At these sites, all youth participate in daily STEM lessons. This year, rather than youth rotating to the STEM lab at each site, our programs operate in a cohort model, where youth and staff are assigned to groups of 22 youth and three staff. This model helps prevent exposure and minimizes the risk of COVID-19. STEM Staff plan weekly lessons around a central theme and disseminate these lesson plans throughout the organization. All youth participating in the after-school component of our programming engage in 45 minutes of STEM on a daily basis. Lessons incorporate elements of the specific programs detailed below:

  • DIY STEM is a hands-on, activity-focused STEM curriculum which connects youth ages 9-12 to science themes that are both interesting and practical. Special attention is paid to connections of theory and application and the common interactions members have with these scientific principles. DIY STEM includes five modules: Energy and Electricity, Engineering Design, Food Chemistry, and Science of Sports: Football. DIY STEM aligns with the Next Generation Science standards, which are used by school districts nationwide to determine age- appropriate curricula.


  • My.Future: This program provides members with the ability to develop strong, grounded digital literacy competency through project-based learning. Members learn internet essentials, explore digital arts, learn web design, create video games, and learn basic computer coding.


  • STEM Mentoring Program: This nationally recognized program engages youth in science and technology exploration. Youth complete three units throughout the year, including JR FLL Robotics, Bedtime Math STEM curriculum, and the Endangered Species Adventure. We maintain a small group setting, ensuring that participants can benefit from individual attention and instruction.


  • First Lego League and Junior First Lego League: These robotics programs for youth ages 7 to 16 years old are designed to get children excited about science and technology, as well as teach them valuable employment and life skills. Last June, our Jr. FLL teams participated in an exhibition called Boomtown Build where each group imagined and created a safe, healthy, and happy community.


In addition to resuming in-person programming, we continue to offer our DEFY online virtual programming for youth who are not able to participate in-person. Currently 19 youth engage in our DEFY program daily. Youth participating in the DEFY online programming complete the same STEM lessons that are implemented during in-

person sessions, with supplies shipped directly to their homes, and adaptations made as needed.

Evaluation (What are the anticipated results? What methods will you use to measure your progress? What does success look like?): 

We expect participation in our STEM Learning Labs programming to increase participants’ interest in and

knowledge of STEM-related career fields, improve academic performance in math and science, and improve participants’ attitude towards and engagement in learning. Specifically, we expect to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Youth will attend full-day programming at least 80% of available days, indicating at least an 80% participation rate in virtual school

  • At least 70% of youth will improve their math/science grades or maintain a at least a B average

  • At least 75% of youth will respond that they are curious to learn more about science, computers, or technology

  • At least 70% of youth will indicate an interest in taking science-related courses after high school


BGCP uses a variety of tools to measure success and ensure that our programs have a positive impact. To measure improved attitudes towards learning, and increased knowledge of and interest in STEM, we will utilize the National Youth Outcomes Survey (NYOI). This includes questions about school performance, attendance, importance of school, long-term educational aspirations, and interest in STEM fields. The NYOI was developed by BGCA in partnership with SRBI research and is utilized by Boys & Girls Clubs nation-wide to measure program success. Youth attendance will be tracked in our KidTrax database, and we will collect school report cards each marking period to track growth of math and science grades.

Does this project already have support from life science companies? If so, what is the nature of that support? 




Is there any other information not captured elsewhere regarding your organization, project, program or initiatives that you believe will help the Life Science Cares team in evaluating your request? 



How does your organization or program differentiate from other organizations doing similar work? Are you executing or proposing to executive an innovation in program or service? 

While many youth-serving non-profits throughout the Philadelphia region have shut-down or limited their

services in the face of COVID-19, Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia understands that our programs and services are more important than ever before. We are committed to safely serving the kids who need us most now more than ever. By adapting our in-person programming to fill the educational gap left by a virtual school year and creating a robust virtual program option, we can ensure that Philadelphia’s young people have access to high-quality educational resources even while the school district cannot open their doors.