The early years—one man’s vision gets the ball rolling

founders-doris-eifertIn 1949, when local Alameda businessman Leonard E. Lee noticed a group of young boys from a nearby housing project playing in the street, he decided to take action. Lee invited the boys to use his garage as a clubhouse and helped them plan some organized activities. With this initial impulse to help, Lee laid the groundwork for what is today the Alameda Boys and Girls Club.

Within two years, Lee had enlisted other adult volunteers and more youth members. Each housing project in Alameda had a branch of the Boys Club, and community support began to grow. More and more kids showed up.

In December 1949, The Alameda Boys Club was incorporated as a non-profit agency with the help of $937 in start-up capital. The next year, a 57-member Board of Directors was formed, and Leonard Lee became the Club’s first Executive Director.

A permanent clubhouse—and a presidential visithal-eifert-photo-bequest-4-25-2008

Early on, a small building behind Washington Park was leased from the city to house the Club, but within a couple of years, more space was needed to accommodate expanding membership and activities. The Building Site Committee identified what was to become the Club’s long-time site at 2050 Lincoln Avenue and raised $100,000 to fund the project. The original permanent clubhouse was erected in 1957 and dedicated in a citywide ceremony by visiting former President Herbert Hoover.

Girls get in the act

Over the next three decades, the Alameda Boys Club continued to grow and provide thousands of boys with positive, constructive activities and mentoring relationships with caring adult volunteers. During the 1980’s, the success of the Club and its services began to attract young girls and in May 1986 the Board of Directors adopted a policy of gender inclusiveness. In 1991, the Club’s name was changed to The Alameda Boys & Girls Club. We currently maintain a girls’ membership equal to about 40% of our 1,500 members.

The 1990’s yield new collaboration

groundbreaking-1957In the 1990’s, the Club began to partner with other youth-serving organizations to enhance the services it offers to Alameda’s children. Since then, the Club has shared its facility and staff with other Alameda programs such as:

  • Alameda Youth Basketball League
  • Alameda Youth Collaborative
  • HOME project
  • The Learning Center
  • Alameda Parks and Recreation
  • Youth Court
  • Alameda Little League
  • Alameda Babe Ruth

The Club also hosts seminars and workshops on pertinent issues such as college planning, divorced family situations and juvenile justice peer review.

New century brings new strategies

Since 2000, we have added new initiatives and strategies designed to reflect the changing needs of children, including nearly 40 hours of educational programming each week. Programs include the Power Hour after-school homework club, individual tutoring, various on-site clubs that allow kids to explore their interests, and our newest initiative, CyberPlace, a state-of-the-art computer lab built with a grant from the Alameda Rotary Club. We want our kids to succeed in school, and we do whatever we can to enhance the efforts of our local schools.

Club continues growth—building campaign launched

In 2006, a building campaign began to replace the building on Lincoln Avenue, and a lease was signed for 99 years on 1.5 acres of land in West Alameda in partnership with the Alameda School District.

The 24,000 square feet, state-of-the-art Youth Development Center will serve up to 3,000 school age children from all over Alameda each year. Plans include a gymnasium, games room, computer lab, learning center, arts and crafts center, music and dance areas, dental and health clinic, and administrative offices. The school district and other community groups will also have access to the building. Ground-breaking is expected in 2010.