Children in Fort Worth and Arlington, especially those in lower income neighborhoods, will have greater opportunities in a combined Boys & Girls Club, CEO Daphne Barlow Stigliano said Thursday as she unveiled the new Boys & Girls Club of Greater Tarrant County.
For about a year the clubs in Arlington and Fort Worth explored merging with the effort finalized formally this week. Stigliano said the combined club will be able to leverage greater fundraising, deploy resources better and create more opportunity for children in both cities. She announced the merger at the Eastside Branch, 4651 Ramey Ave., in Fort Worth.
“It’s clear we can do more,” she said. “Not just in Fort Worth and Arlington but in all of Tarrant County.”
The organization has a deeper capacity with a combined staff, Stigliano said. A larger organization can also build more partnerships and branch into communities that may not have a club. She pointed to Hurst, Euless and Bedford as possible areas the larger club could benefit in the future.
The new organization will serve roughly 22,000 children this year with a budget of about $10.6 million, making it the largest club in Texas, according to the organization.
Stigliano said many club programs, like the Educational Talent Search, which helps first-generation students get into college, will also expand.
Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams celebrated the merger as a partnership between his city and Fort Worth.
“We have a long history of Arlington and Fort Worth working together,” he said, adding that growth in the region would fuel Boys & Girls Club success. “When you think of how much Tarrant County is growing, there are new businesses that can help us and new people that can volunteer.”
U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, whose grandmother and aunt lived in the neighborhood around the Eastide Branch, told the crowd the club would play a major role in uniting the community.
“We have a large number of people who need to be reached, a much more diverse group of young people who need to reached,” he said.
Also on hand Thursday, Chris Gardner, author of “The Pursuit of Happyness” said the Boys & Girls Club in Milwaukee, where he grew up, gave him a foundation as young man.
Gardner spoke briefly before leaving for an event in Dallas
“Any time I walk through the doors of Boys & Girls Club any place in the country I feel at home because I know how important the club was to me and my friends and our community,” he said. “When you went to the Boys & Girls Clubs, there were people who told you what you can do.”