H20 Program: Striving to Quench Social Disparity

Program Director David Curtis passes out snacks during an afternoon program at the Boys and Girls club of the greater D.C. area. Photo by Jon Howell.

Program offers low-income youth opportunities for fun activities 

In spite of financial problems of its own, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington are pressing forward with new efforts to help poor children with the Hope to Opportunity Program (H2O).  

“It helps gives the kids a sense of belonging,” said David Curtis, program director for the clubs. “It shows them that people care about them.”  

During scheduled free time, Rayquon Blakeney lines up to hit the cue ball while playing pool with some friends at the Boys and Girls club. Photo by Jon Howell.

Monica Phillips, Department Regional Director of BGCGW on Benning Road, said H2O helps homeless children integrate into a population of their peers. “Our programs help give the kids a structure so that no one feels alienated,” Phillips said. “Our programs focus on helping the kids build self -confidence and have fun with kids their own age.”  

A busing program helps bring kids from Hyde Park Junior High to the Benning Road location where a learning center with new computers donated by Microsoft is currently under construction.  

In addition to helping children, the H2O initiative also offers help to parents trying to work their way out of homelessness, said Eric Liley, BGCGW’s vice president of marketing and communications.  

“The Boys and Girls Club offers enrichment classes for H20 participants’ parents,” Liley said. “The kids are provided healthy snacks and play activities, freeing up their parents time to look for betterment.”  

According to Liley, most of the programs that the boys and girls participate in run from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. Along with that, BGCGW has a summer sleepover program named Camp Brown, which provides all the same facilities and programs that are a part of BGCGW.  

“The five core values of the Boys and Girls Club are character and leadership, education and career, health and life skills, sport fitness recreation and the arts,” Phillips said. All of the programs in BGCGW help emphasize some area of these core values.  

Image of the Boys and Girls Club Mission Statement Sign.
Photo by Jon Howell.

Last year, BGCGW, which has a long history of helping poor children, was facing the closure and sale of clubhouses and staff layoffs in the face of a $7 million deficit. Under a purchase agreement finalized earlier this year, the District helped keep the endangered youth clubs open and running. These clubs serve over 15,000 young people and adults.  

Inclusion is not spelled out in the five areas of focus that Phillips notes, but it is a part of everyday life for the children that use the facilities of BGCGW on Benning Road. 

Issues |Nonprofits

Region |Washington DC

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