Category Membership

Upon entering any of the Grand Rapids Clubs at any time, the organization’s mission to enable youth to “reach their full potential… through education” will be distinctly evident. With full expectation that each one will raise their hand, Paul I. Phillips Club director, Coach O., calls out to the students circled on the gym floor in front of him, “Who here is a genius?” A mural in Paul I.’s Learning Center features the words, “What’s Your Gift?” with a picture of brain beneath. A “Word of the Week” poster adorns the office wall at Seidman. At Steil, Club members join the dinner line after answering Mr. Chris’ trivia questions.

Each of our Clubs partners with its nearby schools. This partnership takes different forms, such as transportation. Steil does school pick-ups from Sibley Elementary – actually walking with the students due to its close proximity – and driving students from Harrison and Stocking. Seidman picks up students from Hope Academy, and Paul I. currently picks up students from Gerald R. Ford Academy. Another area in which BGC partners with schools is through its engagement with Kent School Services Network (KSSN). As part of this network, BGC attends monthly meetings of the Community School Leadership Team, where upcoming events are shared, as well as needs within the schools and/or within BGC or other organizations. Such awareness allows those within the network (including our Clubs) to strive to meet those needs!

Each Club holds a daily Power Hour. This time is designated for students to work on their homework, with the warm, willing assistance of staff members. Kids who don’t have homework can choose between reading a book or completing a grade-level-appropriate worksheet. At Seidman, Ms. Julie offers tutoring for those who need a little extra boost. With over forty years of experience as an educator, she is a priceless asset to our students! And she doesn’t stop at “just” tutoring… she pitches in to facilitate other programs as well. One example is teaching rhythm, pitch, and tone to a group of kids. The music they collaborated to make was such a joy to hear!

When Power Hour is over, the learning doesn’t stop! Staff often facilitate educational activities for the youth after they are split into their age groups – Cadets, ages 6-8; Intermediates, ages 9-12; and Teens, 13-18. Ashlyn, an 11-year-old at Paul I., shared that she comes to BGC every day. “My favorite thing here is playing math games,” she mused, “I’m really good at math.” Two 7-year-old girls at Paul I. sat together on a stool in the Cadet Room, writing math equations on a marker board. “Oops! You forgot a 4! And your 5 is backward!” one told the other. They giggled together and fixed the numbers, going on to do another equation. At Seidman, Mr. Nick handed out word searches and mazes. When students were finished, he checked their work carefully to make sure it was completed with best efforts, then rewarded those efforts with a small trinket or sheet of stickers. At Steil, one 9-year-old boy asked if he could help the younger kids with their homework, commenting later that “it was hard to tell them how to do it without telling them the answers, but I figured it out! Maybe I could be a teacher someday!” Maybe, indeed, young sir. Keep striving to reach your full potential!

This blog post was written by our Communications Intern – MaryAnne Flier! We asked MaryAnne to share a little about herself:

Hello! My name is MaryAnne, and I’m a senior at Aquinas College (though a small club member recently pointed out that I’m a lot older than most college students). I have two kids, Jackson (almost 10) and Maya (7), and when Jackson started school in 2016, I started classes part-time at GRCC. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I just took a variety of classes that interested me, working toward a general Associate of Arts degree. In 2018, I fell into the field of geography when my professor taught a required geography course through the lens of social justice (something about which I’m super passionate). I finished my A.A there in 2020, then transferred to Aquinas, where I’m double-majoring in Geography and Community Leadership and plan to graduate this coming spring!

For my Community Leadership major, I’m doing an internship with Boys and Girls Club this semester, capturing stories of the day-to-day in each of the clubs and sharing them to social media and the BGC blog. I’ve also been able to attend a couple of community partnership meetings. It’s early in the semester, but it has already been such a privilege to be involved with such a wonderful organization. My kids attend the clubs with me and absolutely love their time at each one; I feel like their involvement gives me a little extra insight into the positive impact that BGC has on its members! 

When I’m not at school or doing homework (or at Boys and Girls Club), I love to get out and hike with my dog and also enjoy reading and cooking/baking! 

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Larissa Clay

  • Sophomore at Union High School
  • Steil Club
  • Member for 5 years
  • Interested in a career as a pediatrician

“To me, the Boys & Girls Club means support. I am supported by the staff and my friends when I’m at the Club. After coming to Steil for so long I feel more comfortable and I am able to be more involved. The Steil Club has become my home away from home. There are chances for homework help, plenty of new opportunities, and a place for relationships to grow.”

Dymond Cummings

  • Freshman at Kellogsville High School
  • Seidman Club
  • Member for 8 years
  • Interested in a career as a dance choreographer

“It’s been eight years since I first stepped foot in a Boys & Girls Club. Since I’ve been attending the Boys & Girls Club, I have built relationships with the staff. I have participated in various club activities and I have even and I have even had several leadership roles. I will be telling you about my experience within the club and how those experiences have shaped me into the person I am.”

Myaja Dunning

  • Freshman at Kent Innovation High School
  • Paul I. Phillips Club
  • Member for 7 years
  • Interested in a career as a OBGYN sonographer

“The Boys & Girls Club is very important to me because this is a safe place for all kids in Grand Rapids, Michigan to come to get out of dangerous neighborhoods. When I say dangerous neighborhoods, I mean bad friend groups, gangs, drug abuse, and homelessness. The Boys & Girls Clubs have changed me because if I did not have the support system that I have with my Mother and the Boys & Girls, I don’t know where I would be at the age of 14 years old.”

Marvin Johnson

  • Freshman at Union High School
  • Steil Club
  • Member for 8 years
  • Interested in a career as a business owner

“Spending eight years of my life attending the Club has changed me in many ways. Because of the Club, I have grown from a mischievous eight-year-old to an entrepreneurial leader and an advocate against bullying, and I have a place to do all of that, safely, with my friends.” 

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Lauren is 7 years old and it’s her first day at the Paul I. Phillips Club.  She doesn’t know anyone, and isn’t sure what to do.  Staff members show her around the club and introduce her to many club members.  She is so shy that she can barely say “hello”.  Lauren tries the Games Room, the Gym, and the Learning Center.  None of the program areas were interesting to her.  Finally, we take her to the Art Room, where we think she might find something she likes to do.  Instead, Lauren puts her coat on because she’s shivering, and puts her head down at the table and begins to sleep.  Unsure how to help, we call her mother, and her mother picks her up.  

The next day, we focus on her and make sure she is exposed to plenty of fun.  How can we help her come out of her shell?  Staff introduce her to several volunteers.  Our volunteers show her a few team building games.  Lauren enjoys herself, but she is still quiet and has not smiled yet.  The next time we see her at the Club, she gets her picture put up on the wall of the Cadet Game Room for winning the Twister tournament of the day.  Her entire disposition has done a 180.  She greets staff members by name with a huge smile lit up on her face.  She participates in every activity with her age group.  What has changed?  Club member Araya approaches her and gives her a hug.  “That’s my best friend!” she says about Lauren.  Araya and her sister A’micka have begun to include Lauren in all of the things that they do.  They even added her in their Winter Concert dance performance!  

It is easy to see that Lauren feels like she belongs here with new friends, a team of staff members, as well as volunteers who care about her.  At the Boys & Girls Club, it’s our duty to make sure a child in the community never falls through the cracks.  At the clubs, it’s possible for each club member to find a friend or a staff member who can scoop them up and lift them higher than where they thought they could go.  What kids might not be getting at home or school, whether it’s a positive adult or a caring friend, or even someone to notice them, they have a chance to get that here.  

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I remember the first time I met Mattea at the Seidman Club back in 2016. She was a very reserved young lady who seemed to have a chip on her shoulder about life. We introduced ourselves and slowly started to get to know each other better as people.

Shortly thereafter, I asked Mattea if she would she allow me to mentor her through our mentoring program. In completing her profile document, I asked her about her background including her personal interests, hobbies, and clubs she belonged to at school.  Those questions allowed me to dialogue with Mattea and get a look inside her personal life. Most importantly, it built our relationship and we began to trust each other.  Mattea really started to open up and took on more of a leadership role in and around the Club.

In 2017, I approached Mattea about applying for our annual Youth of the Year contest.  Mattea accepted the opportunity and ended up as the Seidman Club Representative.  She had the opportunity to share her personal life story and challenges, and did a wonderful job on her essay and speech.

Shortly after that, Mattea moved from Grand Rapids to east Michigan.  I had not heard from her until I visited Seidman recently and saw a picture of a beautiful young lady – and it was Mattea!

I asked Seidman Club Director Phylicia Wilson to have Mattea contact me, which she did. Mattea came by the Paul I. Phillips Club and visited me and we had the opportunity to catch up on her life.  Mattea was back working in Grand Rapids, while completing her high school diploma and planning to attend Jackson State College in Mississippi. 

One of my favorite things about my job is reconnecting with young people who have been to the Club. Mattea is a success story because at an adverse time in her life, she kept on going and trying her best. I am grateful that the Boys & Girls Club was her safe haven for her and her sisters. I am so proud of Mattea, and am looking forward to what is next for her.

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Our programming team is continuously developing new, creative ways to recruit teens from the community. We know that our programs and mentorship provide crucial support, and the more teens we can draw to our clubs, the deeper the impact we can have. So Friday, October 11th, Seidman Center hosted its much anticipated Teen Party event.

In addition to aiding recruitment efforts, regular celebrations for teens support one of our core beliefs – to give youth opportunities to lead, share ideas, and be recognized. For each teen party, we empower our Keystone Clubs, an association of teen members working to develop leadership skills through community service, to plan and organize the event. From the food we provide to the activities we facilitate, the decision making and organization are all done by our teen leaders.

Responding to the requests of our Keystone Club, staff and teens worked together to provide our teen members with activities tailored to kids of diverse interests. Music and dancing, the headline event, drew the largest crowd, but henna and face paint provided by our art team gave our more artistically inclined members time to express themselves and build relationships with each other. Meanwhile, in the gym, Seidman Gym Coordinator Gene McCully facilitated a 3-on-3 basketball tournament that brought in 8 teams. After two hours of intense, hard-nosed play, first, second, and third place teams left the club with sore legs, pride, and bags full of candy. Staff from our Steil and Paul I. Phillips Clubs transported their teen members to the event at Seidman, helping to build ties between teens from different parts of the community.

We were grateful for the support from key community partners. Dre Inspires, a company run by a former staff member at Seidman, deejayed the event, creating a light show and dance floor that kept the kids on their feet for the duration of the party. Officer Mike Harris, whose connections to the community are the stuff of lore, reached deep into his address book to find Ms. Josie, a local caterer who graciously made tacos for over 100 people at a discounted price, to rave reviews.

Altogether, the celebration at Seidman Center brought in over 30 new memberships, a wildly successful turnout. But this is when the real work begins. Fun parties and celebrations bring the community in, but it’s the relationships, the mentorship, and the interest-based programming that help us fulfill our mission.

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The school year is in full swing, and so are our Clubs! Whether your child has been a member for years or this is their first opportunity, we are ready to provide them with a safe, fun and welcoming place to come after school. Our Club isn’t just a location your child spends an hour or two. It’s where they can find their unlimited potential, surrounded by strong mentors who believe in them.

We put together a few FAQ’s with all the info you need to know about your child becoming a Club Member. If we missed anything, please feel to call us at 616.233.9370 or email us at

WHO can become a member? We welcome all children in 1st grade through 12th grade.

HOW MUCH does it cost? Memberships are only $5 per year.

WHERE are you located? We have three club locations in Grand Rapids. Transportation is available from select elementary schools to the Clubs. Contact us to learn more.

  • Steil Club – 235 Straight Ave NW
  • Paul I. Phillips Club – 726 Madison Ave SE
  • Seidman Club – 139 Crofton SE

WHEN are you open? We are open Monday-Friday from 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm (8:00 pm for teens) during the school year. We are closed for school holidays and when GRPS schools close for inclement weather. We are also open in the summer from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. We host monthly Teen Nights and Family Nights. Our calendar is always up to date with our hours and events.

WHAT do kids do while at the Club? Along with providing a FUN and safe environment, we have a variety of programming geared toward enabling all of our members to become the best they can be. We offer activities geared toward our five youth development pillars: Education, the Arts, Character and Leadership, Healthy Lifestyles and Sports and Recreation. We serve snacks and meals each day. In addition, Club Members enjoy opportunities for field trips, unique experiences and college scholarships.

WHY join Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids? Other than having fun and learning new things, below are some of the top ways being a Boys & Girls Club member can benefit your child:

  • Club Kids Have Better Outcomes
    For more than 80 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids have changed and saved young lives during the out-of-school time. We want every child in Grand Rapids to be in a safe, constructive environment when they are not at home or in school. We provide that safe haven for more than 2,500 youth every year.

  • Clubs Help Teens Graduate from High School Prepared for a Great Future
    Each year, 1 out of 6 students fails to graduate from high school on time. Ensuring that every Club member graduates from high school on time with a solid plan for their future is of the highest priority for Boys & Girls Clubs. We offer homework help, tutoring, educational enrichment and college preparation programs designed to support young people’s academic achievement.

  • Clubs Foster Good Character and Citizenship
    Throughout more than a century of existence, Boys & Girls Clubs have worked to foster young people’s integrity and good character, their ability to make positive life choices, their belief that they can bring about positive change in their communities, and their compassion and willingness to serve others.

  • Clubs Help Kids Lead Healthy Lifestyles and Avoid Risky Behaviors
    Clubs play an important role in providing a safe space to exercise, compete in team sports and establish lifelong friendships. Teens who stay involved in a Club are more likely than their peers to have healthy habits, including being physically active and abstaining from risky behaviors.
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