Boys & Girls Club of Fort Atkinson: Brief History
In 2003 when Ted Batterman was in his last year as Director of the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation and serving as President, he proposed a series of Goals / Priorities for the Community Foundation. One of them was to make the Community Foundation a pro-active force in the community, to consider originating projects for which a need existed, and work with community leaders to do feasibility studies and take projects forward. Leona Chadwick, vice-president that year, had spoken frequently and with great enthusiasm about her granddaughter’s experiences and opportunities as a member of the Boys & Girls Club in Madison. The following are highlights of the process that ensued:
4/17/03- President Batterman discussed a Youth Center as a potential initiative, specifically an affiliation with the Boys & Girls Clubs. The Foundation did a feasibility study. Directors were asked to suggest names of those who might serve on a study committee. Philip Jone volunteered to work with this initiative.
7/24/03-Preliminary research has been done by John Wilmet with regard to other Boys & Girls Clubs in Wisconsin communities of similar size to Fort Atkinson. The next step will be to assign a committee to review the research and arrange a presentation by the national Boys & Girls Clubs organization. The goal was to have the committee formed and the presentation by the national organization made prior to the next board meeting so a report on that presentation can be given on October 16, 2003. John Wilmet served on the committee.
10/16/03- It was determined that the Boys & Girls Clubs organization has a new procedure for communities interested in establishing a Club. A survey form must be completed by community leaders. If the results are favorable, a successful Club in a nearby community will be assigned as a mentor to work with the organizational committee. The survey was distributed to nine community members, including all Directors.
1/9/04-The survey form was completed and submitted to Mr. John Alesch, Regional Director, who met with those who completed the survey that day.
10/21/04-Director Chip Day, chair, continued investigation by the Youth Center Initiative group, including tours to Boys & Girls Clubs in Baraboo and Janesville. The long range goal was construction of a Youth Center at the Grove Street property owned by the School District. A pilot program, perhaps as an extension of the Janesville Boys & Girls Club, was to be explored with the School District.
1/19/06- Fort Atkinson Boys & Girls Club started in Sept. 2005 as an extension of the Janesville Club. It was an after-school program housed at Purdy Elementary School and serving students attending Purdy and Luther Elementary Schools. (Of the four public elementary schools in the School District of Fort Atkinson, Purdy and Luther had the highest percentage of children qualifying for free or reduced lunch.) Advisory Council to the Fort Club was formed, meet monthly, and discussed expansion to a second school based site.
1/18/07-Interest and support in the Boys & Girls Club exceeded expectation. A Visioning Discussion with 19 participants was held Jan. 12, 2007 to formulate a three year plan. The Community Foundation pledged financial support of $15,000/year for three years. Fundraising from corporate sponsors was on-going and a number of businesses and corporations made 3 year funding commitments.
8/12/07-First major fundraising event, Jump for Kids, was held at the Fort Atkinson airport.
2/15/08-Second after-school site opened at Luther Elementary School.
9/1/10-Third after-school site opened atRockwell Elementary School.
6/2014- The Club offered its first summer wrap around program at Luther Elementary School. The 10 week program was $100 for each two week session and included a lunch and snack.
9/2014- Barrie Elementary Students joined our BGC Rockwell Club after school. Barrie members were bused to Rockwell to join Club programming.
1/5/2015- Fourth after-school site opened at Barrie Elementary School.
The club continues to grow each and every day. We have come a long way in the following years and look forward to many more years of growth and expansion in the Fort Atkinson community.