Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s inception is traced to Hartford, Conn., with the formation of the Dashaway Club in 1860 by several women to serve needy boys in the community. The idea spread to other areas of the country, and the first Club to use “Boys Club” in its official title was Boys Club of New York in 1876. At this time, the Clubs served only boys. In 1906, the existing 50 Clubs joined together to form a national organization known as Boys Clubs of America. The Federated Boys Clubs in Boston was also formed with 53 member organizations. In 1956, Boys Clubs of America celebrated its 50th anniversary, and President Dwight Eisenhower gave the national organization a Congressional Charter—a rare honor bestowed on only a few non-profit organizations in our country’s history. In response to a growing need, the Boys Clubs began to serve girls. In 1990, the national organization officially changed its name to Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Like Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County has a long and proud history. In 1926, Fort Worth Rotary Club launched Panther Boys Club to serve young men in the community. Originally located at Third and Commerce Streets, the Club was moved to the present site of Panther Branch on Lipscomb Street in 1948. Meanwhile, in 1935 a group of Fort Worth women met in an effort to address a delinquency problem in the north side of Fort Worth. With support from North Fort Worth Kiwanis Club, Fort Worth Boys Club opened in the Boulevard Methodist Church. Two years later, it moved to Ellis Avenue, the current location of our North Fort Worth Branch. Eastside Branch then opened to meet a need in the Polytechnic Heights neighborhood.
Historical pillars of our organization, Panther Boys Club, Fort Worth Boys Club, and Eastside Branch merged on January 1, 1990, to become Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth. With support from Boys & Girls Clubs of America, it was also in 1990 that doors were opened to serve girls. Over the next several decades, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth continued to expand to seven traditional branches, three schools-based branches, and programs in over 40 schools to bring pivotal life-changing programs to youth. Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth was one of the largest of 1,100 Boys & Girls Clubs of America affiliates and the largest by budget size in the state.
Not long after Boys & Girls Clubs of America celebrated its 50th Anniversary, Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington came on the scene. In 1959, Arlington Boys Club was started by the “100 Club,” a group of supporters who each pledged $100 and began operating out of a rented house on Abram Street.
In the next several years, participation at Arlington Boys Club grew exponentially. In 1968, the Boys Club erected a new building on a park site at 608 North Elm Street and served 1,000 youth. Arlington Boys Club continued to add locations throughout the years: Southeast Branch, East Branch, and a site in Wood Elementary School. In 1990, the Club started the Project Bright Star tutoring program and also came alongside Boys & Girls Clubs of America to become Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington, just as Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth did. Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington continued to grow to meet the needs of at-risk youth in Arlington through four branches and 14 school sites.
In 2018, following months of careful consideration, the board leadership of the two organizations agreed that in order to best serve the increasing demands of kids and teens in the Greater Tarrant County area, consolidating the remarkably similar organizations made sense for the mission. The boards of directors of the respective organizations officially voted to consolidate into one organization. On October 1, 2018, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth and Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington joined forces to form Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County, combining their collective resources to make a more powerful and positive impact on more youth across the area with programs of increasing diversity and quality. The two organizations share a rich history and the leadership of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County is now carrying out the unique opportunity to bring visionary leadership toward the future, much like the founders and board members of the past.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County is expanding its reach each year, impacting youth in the area through after-school programs in 11 branches and 15 school sites and providing innovative and progressive programming in dozens of partner schools across the county.