More than 100 Years

of Building GREAT Futures!

For more than 100 years, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City has been making futures brighter for kids in the urban core. A recent evaluation of our programs showed some noteworthy results:

  • 80% of youth took part in at least one community service activity per month.
  • 91% of youth in our computer classes showed increased knowledge and problem-solving skills; 82% showed an improved attitude toward learning.
  • 90% of parents surveyed reported that the Clubs have helped keep their kids off drugs.
  • 100% of members participating in our Gang Prevention Program are not involved in gang activity.

Our achievements are extensive, but we remain committed to aggressively expanding our services to reach more children. We will not rest until success is within reach for every child.

Our History

Here’s a look at our history … the milestones that brought us to this pivotal point in the Boys & Girls Clubs Movement.

1912 – Judge E.F. Porterfield’s group, Juvenile Improvement Club, raised $60,000 to open the Boys Hotel.

1916 – Young boys are charged $2.50-$3 per week to live in the Boys Hotel.  They can pay $4 for the luxury of a private room.

1921 – The organization joined the Boys Club Federation, the forerunner of today’s Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

1932 – The Boys Hotel closed.

1934 – J.R. Battenfield, Joyce Hall, H. Roe Bartle and others from Rotary Club #13 concluded the Boys Hotel facility should operate as a Boys Club.

1935 – John Thornberry, a 35-year-old attorney in Joplin, Missouri was invited by Joyce Hall to expand the development of the Boys Club of Kansas City, Missouri.

1935 – The Club reopened and within a month, 997 boys between the ages of 7-18 were members.

1968 – The John Thornberry Unit opened at East 43rd Street & Cleveland under Chairman of the Board Gordon T. Beaham, III.

1976 – The Board of Directors voted to admit girls into membership under Board Chairman Colonel Charles McGee.

1984 – The Genesis School, an accredited alternative high school for children unsuccessful in a public school setting, relocated its program to the John Thornberry Unit.

1986 – Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City opened the 23rd Street Unit in the Bob Jones Memorial Building at the Niles Home and served youth until 1994.

1986 – The Marching Cobras merged with the Clubs in a partnership that lasted until 2003.

1987 – Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City was asked by the DeLa Salle School to run a year-round extension program for neighborhood children.

1988 – At the request of the Kansas City, Missouri Housing Authority and funded by ACTION “Start-Up” funds, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City opened a Club inside the Pennway West Plaza Housing Project through 1998.

1994 – David A. Smith was hired as President of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City.

1994 – Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City was awarded a three-year Weed & Seed grant from the Department of Justice.

1994 – Partnership for Children awarded Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City a grant to provide summer activities; the Clubs contract with Don Bosco and Guadeloupe Centers to provide youth services.

1995 – Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City provided services in seven Kansas City, Kansas Housing Authority locations until 1998.

1996 – The Wyandotte County Unit opened in Northwest Middle School and over the next ten years operated out of the Equal Opportunity Foundation, First Baptist Church and J.F. Kennedy Recreation Center.

1996 – Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City entered into agreement with the Kansas City, Missouri School District to operate Clubs in selected school locations.

1996 – RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) became a program of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City.

1997 – Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City was invited by the Unified School District #500 in Kansas City, Kansas to partner in providing before and after-school programming, called Kidzone, at ten elementary schools until 2001.

1998 – Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City subcontracted with the Local Investment Commission to provide before and after-school services at selected Kansas City, Missouri School District locations until 2007.

1998 – The Clymer Unit opened in the T.B. Watkins Housing Development (relocated from the West Bluff Housing Development) and operated until 2004.

1999 – Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City merged the Troost Midtown Community Center into the organization and operated this Club until 2006.

2000 – The John Thornberry Unit was renovated and expanded through a $12 million campaign with Genesis School to become the Thornberry Center for Youth & Families.

2000 – The RBI Advisory Board was established by Don Wagner, former Chairman of the Corporate Board of Directors.

2000 – The Thornberry Unit was licensed by the State of Missouri as a school-age child care site.

2002 – Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City had over 4,000 members and served over 1,200 youth every day. Over 900 youth participated in the RBI program this year.

2004 – United Way selected Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City to receive funding to provide services in the east side Kansas City area served by the former Minute Circle Community Center.

2004 – A merger with Boys & Girls Clubs of Eastern Jackson County added the Independence (formerly Leslie) and Hawthorne Units to the organization.

2004 – The East Side Unit opened at 5101 East 24th Street in a leased facility owned by the Salvation Army.

2005 – The new Cleveland Park RBI Baseball Complex opened across the street from the Thornberry Unit.

2005 – Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City acquired the former Minute Circle Community Center building at 2405 Elmwood in Kansas City, Missouri.

2006 – The new $7.5 million Wyandotte County Unit in the Breidenthal Youth & Families Community Center opened.

2007 – The new Clark Ketterman Park RBI Baseball Complex opened.

2009 – The $5.5 million Dreams to Reality Campaign was lead by Bob Firnhaber and Sally Groves to renovate and expand the former Minute Circle facility into the J&D Wagner Unit in Kansas City, Missouri and complete expenses for the Breidenthal Center in Wyandotte County, Kansas.

2010The Dreams to Reality Campaign completed and the new J&D Wagner Unit opened.

2012Celebrated 100 Years of Building Great Futures for Kansas City’s youth!

2014 – Celebrated the opening of a brand new $1.6 million Teen Center at the Independence Unit.

2014 – Relocated the administration office to – Nancy and Gordon Beaham, LEGACY CENTER, 4001 Blue Parkway, Suite 102, Kansas City, MO  64130. New LEGACY CENTER renamed to honor the longtime service and commitment of Nancy and Gordon Beaham and the enitire Beaham family.

2015 – The Olathe Unit opened at the Center of Grace Mission Campus, 520 S Harrison St, Olathe, KS.

2016 – The Olathe Unit opens a new Teen Center for area youth ages 13 – 18 years old.

The Future

While our achievements are extensive, we are committed to continue aggressively expanding our services to reach more children. We envision a future in which the Boys & Girls Club Movement is a catalyst for an age in which success is within reach of every child, and whole generations of children are inspired to a level of civic engagement not seen since the founding of our nation.