Who can you serve?
There’s an important role for Clubs to play in ensuring that the families and children who are most vulnerable are receiving Club support to make it through a season that will be difficult for all. After you identify who you will serve, it’s essential to further explore how you can best serve them — particularly because this is a time of significant inequity.
This mean that you will need to identify and work with those who have been the least connected. Note that connectivity may not be the only barrier: language, food and housing insecurity and other barriers may stand in the way of you serving your entire membership population at this time.
So, given who you would like to serve, how can you best serve them? Most likely it will be a combination of approaches. Reference your community needs assessment data and identify:
- For what activities and Programs does live engagement make the most sense? What are some common days and time(s) when members might be most available to participate virtually? How can all those who can’t participate at that specific day/time still be engaged?
- When do non-live engagement opportunities make the most sense? How can you continue to help build community and support members and their families through these opportunities?
Which channels best support members and their families? Some examples:
- Social media channels can be successful ways to reach out and share activities:
- Facebook can be best at reaching parents and caregivers, as generally “older people use facebook.” If you will be using this platform to engage members, a best practice is to create a separate group for members to access to keep it feeling youthful & to separate the parent and funder-facing content.
- Instagram, TikTok and other social platforms can be successful ways to engage kids “where they are.”
- Many Clubs are also striving to promote equity and opportunity by distributing activity kits directly to parents and caregivers. Activity kits can be distributed with meal distributions and/or other parental touch points.
Virtual club and virtual programming operations require many of the same skills club staff already use in the Club – but they may require some new skills, too.
You may want to create new or revise existing internal job descriptions to better align and support your Virtual Club Experience. Here are examples courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Muskegon Lakeshore:
Host: Leads live sessions and/or produces content. | Download
Co-Host: Co-leads live sessions and/or produces content. | Download
Moderator: Supports live sessions and content production. | Download
Some Clubs have also identified volunteers to assist in creating content, tutoring and/or support other virtual opportunities. The requirements for virtual volunteering remain the same as in-club volunteering.
All volunteers must be vetted according to your standard Organization policies and practices, including background checks. If volunteers participate in any interactive experiences with members, they must be accompanied by at least one Club staff to comply with a prohibition on 1:1 contact and supervision requirements.
School Partnership Approach
Based upon what you’ve learned through your conversations with local District and School leaders, define your school partnership approach.
Documentation found in the School Partnership Guide can be particularly helpful. The guide contains:
- BGCA’s guidance for education partnerships with schools
- A Club Education Partner Template letter to school Districts
- A Local Education Agency (LEA) Existing Partner Letter Template for the summer and fall
- A sample LEA engagement plan
Define your Business Model
An evolution in the services your Organization and Club provides also may require an evolution in your business model. Doug Wells, National Director, Strategy Innovation & Alignment, has been working with Organizations and Clubs to explore for ‘what works,’ as experiences evolve from in-Clubhouse membership into the virtual.
Communication with parents, caregivers and members has become much more challenging during these challenging times – but there are some best practices that can be applied to help maintain your connections and maximize your outreach:
First, be sure parent and caregiver contact information is up-to-date and accurate.
Next, make sure you have the right communications channels set up to communicate with parents, caregivers and members.
Finally, ensure you have a regular communication schedule with all your Club’s parents and caregivers. Some promising practices include:
- Utilize MyFuture’s new Club Homepage feature to create and share your schedule online. The new Club Homepage allows you and your staff to easily create a landing space for all your virtual activities.
- Communicate with parents and caregivers at least weekly, and possibly even daily. For example, Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey creates and shares a thorough weekly schedule with parents and caregivers by e-mail. Then, on a daily basis they create and share a very short summary of the activities that will be happening that day via Remind, a parental texting and communication App.
- Create separate social channels for parents and caregivers, and for members. For instance, parents and caregivers most frequently utilize Facebook; teens are more likely to engage on Instagram or Tiktok. Please see our section about Safety for more information about using these channels safely.
- Remember, not all parents, caregivers and/or members are able to receive digital communications. Take advantage of food distributions, activity kit distributions and other in-person points of contact to send hard-copy flyers home.
Safety and Policy
Clubs implementing interactive virtual experiences must adhere to all standard BGCA and local Organization safety policies, including a prohibition on 1:1 contact.
Staff should not communicate directly with individual youth through digital means. More than one staff must be on all outgoing and/or incoming communications and it must target or include a group, or ideally all, youth members. This ensures compliance with the prohibition with the 1:1 contact policy.
Additionally, direct parental consent must be obtained for any interactive virtual experience in which your members may participate. Interactive experiences are those which:
- Allow members and staff to communicate directly
- Allow members to communicate with other members
- Allow members to share files, media, video or other media formats with one another
Some examples of live interactive experiences:
- Members participating in live Zoom sessions
- Members participating in Esports online
In these examples, it’s essential Club staff gain positive parental consent (that is, documented, non-verbal consent). Parental consent can be received through paper means (signing a printout) or received digitally (e.g., via an online survey or other tool that allows parents and caregivers to read, affirmatively agree to stipulations and sign).
For more information about safety in virtual settings, please consult these resources:
- Virtual Club Experience Safety Checklist: Document
- Safety in Virtual Programming: Pre-recorded training
- Safety Considerations for Virtual Learning in the Club: Document
- Additional Pre-recorded Safety training library: BGCA.Net
- Creating a Safe, Live Virtual Club: Document
- Delivering a Safe Social Media Experience: Document
- Sample Virtual Parental Consent Form: Document
Virtual programming is the core your Virtual Club Experience. Fortunately there are a wealth of BGCA-developed resources to support your virtual programming needs!
These resources can be found on MyFuture, BGCA’s youth engagement platform. The BGCA team has been releasing new features and content weekly to ensure Clubs can provide the best program experience, and MyFuture has been updated to support Clubs in delivering virtual and in-person program experiences for youth. Clubs don’t have to do it all themselves – MyFuture easily integrates the best BGCA and Club-developed content into a Club’s Virtual Experience.
Training: Sign up here
A total of seven full weeks of comprehensive Virtual Programming schedules for ages 10 and up facilitator-led live programming is also available. Sessions can be run in any order and will provide far more than seven weeks for a program experience if not run daily.
In addition, BGCA has created sample at-home Club sessions for ages 6 and up.
Finally, BGCA has created a set of tips to promote physical activity for virtual experiences.
MyFuture & Virtual Club Technologies
As you consider which technologies will support your virtual club operation and your delivery of virtual programming, be sure to keep in mind:
- Safety: Which technologies will promote the safety environment?
- Accessibility: Which technologies will be easiest for parents, caregivers and members to access?
- Ease and cost: Which technologies can you tap and roll out quickly and inexpensively, and evolve rapidly as needed?
Knowing Clubs’ needs, BGCA has provided the foundation for any Club’s Virtual Club Experience. The MyFuture platform provides you with a wonderful way to:
- Create and update a Virtual Club homepage / landing page to share your schedule, activities and more.
- Access hundreds of high-quality, vetted programs and activities.
- Track members’ participation in virtual activities.
Additionally, you may be considering running live sessions with your members. BGCA has created a comparison chart of the various live hosting options.
Finally, BGCA has secured partnerships with Microsoft and others to help you access needed technology resources. Please see https://bgca.net/Technology for the latest information.
BGCA maintains a robust training calendar to ensure you and your staff have access to exactly what you need, when you need it. Please see our Master Training Calendar on BGCA.Net for a list of all upcoming trainings.
At the minimum, you will want to be sure your program staff:
- Have taken the Delivering Safe, Live Virtual Club training or watched the recording.
- Understand how to Deliver a Safe, Social Experience by reaching our documentation.
- Understand the technologies and tools they’re about to utilize.
We’re all in this together! Connect with youth development professionals in Clubs across the country, get answers to your questions, and share the ways your Club is responding.