A hundred million here, $77 million there-and that's just the new money flowing toward the Atlanta-based Boys & Girls Clubs of America thanks to Microsoft and the U.S. Congress. The Microsoft $100 million is for the B&GCA's Club Tech program that Microsoft began in 1999 with 15 technology centers. With the new gift of $12.3 million in cash and $88 million in software, some 100 clubs annually will gain state-of-the-art computer centers. The eventual goal is to have a Club Tech center in each of B&GCA's 2,800 clubs.
Microsoft chief Bill Gates announced the venture at the Harlem Boys & Girls Club in New York. B&GCA president Roxanne Spillett told USA Today that the largess from the software giant was a "most wonderful gift."
But when President Clinton signed into law H.R. 5656, the final appropriations bill for FY'01, the ever-enterprising B&GCA and its affiliates picked up about $77 million in congressional earmarks, including $60 million from the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs (OJP), up from $50 million last year. How much federal money is that? Consider that the entire FY '00 grant-making budget for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services' Family and Youth Services Bureau was $69.9 million. That was enough to make over 605 competitive grant awards to more than 500 different youth-serving agencies.
But what left national observers of the annual Capitol Hill appropriations greased pork chase in awe was the continued ingenuity of B&GCA's Washington vice president, Robbie Callaway. The astute career youth worker won a $9 million last-minute add-on to OJP's budget that will train B&GCA's staff of 10,000 full-time and 19,000 part-time youth workers. The $9 million, says Congress, is "an award to the Alliance of Boys and Girls of South Carolina for the establishment of the Strom Thurmond Boys and Girls Club National Training Center." The National Training Center will be located at Clemson University, also the home of the National Dropout Prevention Center.
Over at the once essentially earmark-free Corporation for National Service, B&GCA scored another $2.5 million. In addition, at least 15 local affiliates received direct grants from Congress totaling more than $4.8 million (see page 55).
For B&GCA, the best may be yet to come. Its new chairman is Arnold Burns, a New York lawyer and deputy attorney general under Ed Meese during the Reagan administration, when B&GCA first became a line item in the OJP budget. Among Burns' recruits to the B&GCA 42-member board of governors: Colin Powell. Among the alumni of the Boys Club of Springfield, Mo.: John Ashcroft. Contact: (404) 815-5700, www.bgca.org.