Escalating violence, youth gangs, drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, school drop-outs, parental neglect, limited job opportunities, poverty, hunger, delinquency, child abuse; these are just a glimpse of a long list of problems that can effect any community and it members. Unfortunately, every child is exposed to these perils. However, in an age when family values and the traditional role of the family in a child’s development is changing, increasing importance is being placed on maintaining and providing stable environments for our developing youth to prevent continued exposure to these problems.
While some parents seek out school programming or a form of daycare to help occupy their children, there are still children in every community that are left to find their own recreation and companionship in the streets. Even more disturbing is the increasing number of children who are left at home with no adult care or supervision. The underlying concern generated from these community misfortunes is that young people need to know that someone cares about them, and that they are able to experience a sense of belonging and fulfillment while developing and contributing to their community. With this in mind, there is increasing emphasis being placed on the importance of maintaining and developing community based organizations and programs to aid in providing for the development of our youth.
Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGC) offer that and much more. The club provides programs and services to promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence. The club does more than just provide a child with a place to go after school or during the summer break. Great pride is taken in the structure of the programming at the facility, including concentration on character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, arts, sports, fitness and recreation.
Along with its wide variety of programming, BGC is a safe yet fun place to learn and grow while gaining positive insight into the character of the community. The programming and activities offered also allow for individuals to explore their own interests and develop different talents they may otherwise not have been able to manifest. BGC has adopted the mission, “To inspire and enable all young people especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens”, in an attempt to stay true to the purposes of the organization, while providing the most needed services to the community and its members.
BGC further aims to maintain four main critical defining characteristics in order to maintain its positive impact on a community, 1) dedicated youth facility in an actual neighborhood-based building designed solely for the youth programs and facilities, 2) hours of operation, BGC are open daily after school and on weekend so children can utilize its services when needed, 3) professional staff who are trained youth development professional providing positive role models and mentors, and 4) affordable services so kids can access the club who may not have the funds to join other community programs.
Local Level Utilization
To help the Wichita community battle and try to prevent problems associated with the perceptions of youth within the community, the first BGC in the Sedgwick County opened in 1990. The opening of the first BGC was a result of a partnership between the founding board, United Way, the Derby and Wichita school districts and several local businesses. Wichita has three different BGC locations to meet the programming and development needs of the community. An assessment of the numbers associated with the success ratio of the local BGC shows that the program is working as it should, in an attempt to decrease community problems and increase the successes of its members in the areas of school grades, percentages of individuals who graduate (both at the college and high school levels), income levels and career earnings as well as increased job responsibility in leadership positions, decrease in teen pregnancies, and an overall increase in positive self assessment and esteem.
Surprisingly, even though BGC provides a safe place to learn and grow, ongoing relationships with caring adult professionals, life enhancing programs and character development experiences as well as hope and opportunity for those who utilize it, some negative opinions of the club have begun to surface, and general awareness and understanding of the clubs objectives seems to be decreasing. In order to gain insight into these false appraisals of the organization, program heads and executives are trying to assess where this lack of community participation has stemmed from and what they should do to restore the BGC and its programming in the eyes of the community they are trying to serve. The vehicle of this investigation was to introduce a survey to the members of the local community in order to gain an insight into the perceptions and misconceptions it members in respect to the BGC.
In an attempt to find answers to the apparent negative stigma that is being placed on the BGC in the Wichita area, as well as an understanding of community awareness as to the services and benefits of the program, an exploratory research design was constructed. Exploratory research was deemed the most beneficial design choice as research of this kind had never been completed by the organization in the Wichita area, and because the problem itself not being completely defined. It is the hope that the conclusions from this research can subsequently be used by the board and programming heads to keep the BGC serving the members of the Wichita community in the most beneficial way possible and provide a means and basis for further research in the future.
Data Collection Methods
Primary data was the focus of the data collection methods and was primarily gained through the use of survey methods. Initially it was proposed that two separate surveys would be sent out to assess different perspectives of awareness levels and opinions of the BGC. There was to be a survey sent to donors of the organization assessing their awareness levels the club as well as general users and community members that may or may not have been introduced to the benefits of the club or seen it being active in the community. Due to time constraints and a change in the direction of the research, the two surveys were merged into one and distributed to the general community with a disregard for the original collection design plan.
(Include survey in appendix)
The research objectives were aimed at gaining a better understanding of the attitudes and opinions towards BGC with consideration to those that have first hand knowledge of the organization. To fully understand the perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors that might benefit the exploratory study, the Wichita community was sampled with the specific sampling frame designated to focus on the responses of BGC supporters, donors and volunteers. Respondents were chosen randomly through a mailing method to general members of the Wichita community. Specific survey questions were presented as a mixture of question types including Liekert scale, ranking, and agree/disagree, and were designed with the following six research objectives being considered:
1) Assessing the general awareness of the BGC as to purpose/sponsorship, programs/services available, and eligibility for use, funding sources, location, facilities, and cost of services.
2) Identifying the importance attributed to the BGC among other charitable organizations in the Wichita area.
3) Establishing the perceived necessity of services offered by BGC in today’s social environment.
4) Clarifying the perception of BGC as to assess, value, availability, competence, compassion, and overall quality of services.
5) Discovering methods by which people learn about BGC and the services available
6) Profiling respondents in terms of age, gender, income, marital status, education, are of residence, past donation behavior, and past use of BGC services.
The surveys were mailed to respondent on March 18th, 2004 and were given a deadline date of return as March 29th, 2004.
Different statistical computations were utilized to assess the relevance of recorded respondent information collected through the survey techniques and to use as a comparative tool between the respondents answer choices. Significant results were deciphered through matching each question with one of the six originally stated research objectives.
Descriptive statistical regressions as well as frequency tables were analyzed with specific attention given to the frequency of choices of each individual question item across the total respondent base as well as the implications this percentage of responses had on the research objectives and implications for further more clarifying research objectives in the future. Cross tabulation was also used to assess a universal comparison between the stated objectives as the related to the different research objectives across two or more variables. Analysis in general was not at a complex level as the data collected did not allow or seem relevant for more strenuous statistical analysis.
General awareness of Boys and Girls Clubs
BGC Purpose / Sponsorship
When respondents were asked as if they were aware Boys and Girls Clubs are available to children in South Central Kansas, the majority said they were, 140 of 170 total responses. Figure 1 below illustrates the breakdown among respondents.
Of all respondents, 37.6% indicated they agree to some extent that BGC is primarily a place for at risk children to be helped. In the same manner, of those respondents who indicated they were aware of BGC, 45.7% indicated that they agree to some degree that BGC is primarily a place for at risk children to be helped. Of the 31 respondents who indicated they had a family member who had joined BGC were of similar opinion as well, 48.4% agreed to some degree that BGC is primarily a place for at risk children to be helped.
Based on the information gathered from the survey respondents, there is overall at least some awareness of Boys and Girls Clubs in South Central Kansas. However, the majority of respondents believe the primary purpose of BGC is as a place for at risk children.
BGC Programs / Services Available
Based on response from those surveyed, the most perceived services provided by BGC are after school programs indicated by 65.9% of respondents, sports and recreation indicated by 65.3% of respondents and a safe place to grow and learn indicated by 57.6% of respondents. Figure 2 below gives a break down of the perceived services provided by BGC among all respondents, those respondents with a family member who had been involved in BGC, and all respondents who had indicated they were aware of BGC.
Furthermore, the responses on perceived services offered by BGC from those surveyed who indicated they were aware of BGC followed closely with those of all respondents indicated above in figure 2. Of those 140 who indicated they were aware of BGC, 74.3% indicated sports and recreation as a provided service, 72.1% indicated after school programs as a provided service and 64.3% indicated BGC as a safe place to learn and grow. However, in the same manner, only 15.7% indicated music instruction as a service provided by BGC. For respondents who indicated they had a family member who had joined BGC, the top three selections for services provided by were again sports and recreation, after school programs and a safe place to grow and learn each option was selected by 90.3% of these respondents.
An interesting observation illustrated by figure 2 is despite the fact that music instruction is indeed a service provided by BGC, only 14.7% of all respondents and 15.7% of those who indicated they were aware of BGC recognized this fact. However, for those who indicated they had a family member who had been involved in BGC 32.3% recognized music instruction as a service provided. This shows those who have less direct involvement with BGC do not necessarily recognize all the offered services.
BGC Eligibility for Use
The most common perception among all respondents was that primarily children from low-income families join BGC, selected by 63.5% of all respondents, followed by any child in south central Kansas selected by 53.5%, and children within a certain distance of the facilities selected by 43.5%. Figure 3 below illustrates the percentage of all respondents who perceived those listed to join BGC.
Furthermore, among the 140 respondents who indicated they were aware of BGC, 67.1% indicated that the primary members of BGC are children from low-income families, 55.7% indicated any child in south central Kansas may join, and 48.6% indicated children within a certain distance of BGC facilities would join. Of those individuals who indicated they had a family member who had joined BGC, 74.2% also thought children from low income families were who joins BGC, followed by 71.0% who any child in south central Kansas may join, and 67.7% who perceived children with working parents to be who joins.
When analyzed with respect to respondent area of residence, of the 60 who live in the 67219 zip code which is to the __________ side of Wichita ______ miles from the ______ BGC facility, 70.8% perceive children from low income families to be those who join BGC, followed by 68.8% indicating any child in south central Kansas, and 62.5% indicating children within a certain distance to the BGC facilities being those who join. In the 67235 zip code area to the _____ side of Wichita, ____ miles from the _______BGC location, 61.9% of the 42 respondents perceive children from low income families to be those who join BGC, 31.0% indicated any child in south central Kansas and 28.6% thought children within a certain distance of the BGC facilities were those who join.
Furthermore, of the 42 respondents in the 67230 zip code 52.4% perceived those who join to again be children from low income families, 50.0% selected any child in south central Kansas and 35.7% indicated children within a certain distance of the BGC facilities. In the area of the 67214 zip code, which is to the _____ side of Wichita, ___ miles from the _____ BGC location, 29 people responded with 69.0% indicating those who join BGC are from low income families, followed by 58.6% who thought any child in south central Kansas and then 48.3% who choose children within a certain distance of the club facilities.
The common perception among those who do not live near BGC facilities again leans toward the idea that those who join BGC are from low income families. We did not receive enough responses from those in residential areas near the BGC facilities to be able to analyze the perception of those individuals. Therefore, the most common perception among respondents is that those individuals who join BGC are primarily children from low-income families.
Respondents correctly recognized that the majority of funding for BGC does come from private donations. However, respondents also indicated they perceived BGC funding to also come from state funds and federal grants. Figure 4 below illustrates the break down of percentage of all respondents who perceive funding to come from the listed categories.
As expected the results from those respondents who indicated they were aware of BGC is quite similar. Of the 140 aware of BGC, 70.7% indicated funding comes from private donations, 48.6% indicated funding comes from corporate donations, 42.9% indicated funding comes from federal grants, and 24.3% indicated funding comes from state funds. For those respondents who indicated they had a family member who had joined BGC, 61.3% recognized that BGC funding comes from private donations, however, still 45.2% indicated that funding is received from federal grants and 32.3% selected state funds are funding received by BGC. Again, this illustrates a common misperception by survey respondents that BGC does receive funding support from government sources.
Another primary source for BGC funding is the United Way, figure 5 below illustrates to what level respondents agree that the United Way primarily funds BGC.
From figure 5, it is apparent that most respondents agree that the United Way is a primary source of funding for BGC. However, only 64 respondents choose to answer the survey with any option other than no opinion, 55.9% of respondents choose no opinion, indicating they did not agree nor disagree to any level as to BGC funding support by the United Way.
BGC Locations, Facilities and Cost of Services
As shown previously in figure 3, 43.5% of all respondents perceived membership with BGC to be related to living within a certain distance of the facilities. As well, figure 4 illustrated lesser percentage, 15.9%, perceive BGC funding of daily costs to actually come from membership fees. This may indicate that respondents recognize the small amount of funding provided by fees charged to members.
Moreover, respondents who answered the survey questions regarding BGC facilities generally disagreed that the facilities were inadequate. In the following figure 6, the response percentages are broken down by level of disagreement/agreement that BGC facilities are inadequate.
As noted in previous areas of survey analysis, from this figure it is again apparent that the majority of respondents, 62.4%, chose no opinion when questioned about the adequacy of BGC facilities.
The majority of respondents indicated that they were aware of BGC in south central Kansas. However, the common misconception was that the primary focus of BGC was for at risk children, and those eligible to join were most likely from low-income families. The most common services respondents perceived to be offered by BGC align well with the services actually offered by BGC with after school programs, sports and recreation, and a safe place to grow and learn rounding out the top three selections. On the other hand, some services offered by BGC, such as music instruction, were not recognized by a those respondents who did not have any direct experience with BGC as a service offered.
Private donations were most predominately perceived by respondents as the primary source of funding for BGC. Although, a significant percentage of respondents inaccurately perceived funding to also be supplied through state funds and federal grants. Additionally respondents generally agreed that United Way was a primary source of funding for BGC. However, many respondents neither agreed nor disagreed but indicated they had no opinion when questioned about United Way supplied funding. In the same manner, respondents generally felt disagreed that BGC facilities were inadequate. However, again many had no opinion on the adequacy of the facilities. Overall, the significant percentage of no opinion responses may suggest lack of respondent familiarity with these issues.
Importance of BGC among other charitable organizations
Respondents were asked to divide a $100 donation amount among the listed charitable organizations. When grouped as a mentor program along with Big Brother and Big Sisters, BGC is rated as the third highest recipient of a portion of the $100 donation. The percentage distribution of donations is outlined in figure 7 below.
Overall these response highlight that the community is willing to give to a program like BGC. Furthermore, when directly compared to other youth organizations in the Wichita area, such as Big Brothers & Big Sisters and Boy Scouts / Girl Scouts, respondents generally ranked BGC the same as to services provided to children and families. Although, again there was a significant number of respondents who chose that they had no opinion of how BGC services compared to the other organizations.
The following figure 8 shows all respondent’s level of agreement that there are several other organizations in the Wichita area that provide the same type of services as BGC.
Furthermore, those respondents who indicated someone in their family had joined BGC, only 12.9% agreed that there are several organizations in the Wichita area that provide the same services as BGC, and 35.5% disagreed. Figure 9 below shows the percentage agreement that there are several organizations in the Wichita area that provide the same services as BGC for respondents who indicated someone in their family had joined BGC.
Figure 9 clearly illustrates that for those respondents whose family members have joined BGC, they tend to disagree that there are several organizations in the Wichita area that provide the same services as BGC. Again however, 38.7% of these respondents chose not to answer the survey questions regarding the adequacy of BGC facilities. Even though, this shows a distinctive separation between those respondents who have never had a family member join BGC and those who have, indicating the difference in perception among the two groups.
When identifying BGC as a mentor program, along with other similar organizations, respondents are willing to consider making donations. Lack of current donor participation may be attributable to other factors such as lack of knowledge of the need for donations to the organization or lack of convenience for donation contribution.
From our overall representative sample, most respondents do think that BGC compares similarly to other area organizations offering similar services. There does appear to be some confusion when identifying the differences between the organizations. Those individuals who have had direct experience with BGC generally disagree that BGC offers the same services as the other area organizations, but those with no direct experience with BGC see the services offered as the same as those offered by other organizations.
Necessity of services in today’s social environment
Among all respondents, 73.5% agreed that having a place where children can be counseled and helped is an important resource for the community. The most common attributes that respondents indicated they were comfortable having children helped with by someone outside the family were: public speaking skills, sportsmanship and competitive challenges, career exploration, usefulness of setting goals and their attainment, and developing a self image.
Moreover, when respondents were surveyed on what aspects of an after-school program were most important the most valued options were cost of program, reputation of program, hours offered to fit my needs, safety of location and impact on child. Of the 65 respondents who currently have children in their households, the after-school programs that were indicated most frequently that they participated in included: church sponsored programs, YMCA/YWCA, and school sponsored programs. Figure 10 details the percentage of all respondents with children under the age of 18 who selected after-school programs utilized.
Additionally, of those respondents who indicated they had a family member who had joined BGC only 5.5% indicated they had children who were currently active in BGC.
Respondents typically agreed it was important to provide services outside the home which counsel and help children. Furthermore, the majority of respondents with school-aged children utilize an after-school program. Although the services provided by BGC appear to be highly valued, it does not necessarily translate into increased membership.
Methods by which people learn about BGC
Survey respondents indicated best they could remember 29.4% had first learned of BGC by reading about it in the newspaper, followed by 21.2% who first heard of BGC from family and friends. However, of those respondents who had indicated they had family members involved with BGC, 48.4% recalled first learning of BGC from family and friends, followed by 29.0% who learned of BGC by using the services. Additionally, 10.6% of all respondents indicated this survey was the first they had heard of BGC. Below figure 11 survey responses are detailed for all respondents and broken out for respondents who indicated they had a family member involved in BGC.
From figure 11 it is apparent those more closely involved with BGC first heard about it differently than those who are not involved.
Of the all respondents, those who chose to respond to the demographics questions, 60.0% were female and 37.6% male. The respondent age classification is illustrated in the following figure 12. For all respondents the average number of people in the home was 2.85, and the average for number of children under 18 was 0.91.
From this data, 65.9% of the survey responses came from respondents between the ages of 35 and 64. In addition, 42.7% of the households with respondent ages between 35 and 64 had at least one child in the home under the age of 18. Of those who had indicated they had a family member who had joined BGC, 34.5% were in the age category 35-44.
Figure 13 illustrates the marital status breakdown of all respondents. The overwhelming majority indicated they were married.
Of those who indicated they were married, 38.7% had a family member who had joined BGC. Additionally, of those respondents in all other marital status categories, 58.2% had a family member who had joined BGC.
The educational demographics of all respondents are displayed in below figure 14. Of those respondents who indicated they had a family member who had joined BGC, 35.5% indicated they had completed some college, followed by 12.9% in each of three categories: some high school, high school graduate, and graduate degree.
Area of residence
The survey distribution was targeted toward those zip codes to the north, south east and west edges of Wichita as well as those areas near the BGC facilities. Our responses received for those who answered the survey questions regarding zip code are illustrated below in figure 15.
Past donation behavior and use of services
As previously illustrated in figure 7, respondents indicated they were willing to donate to mentoring programs such as BGC. However, 70.6% of all respondents have never contributed to BGC. Of those respondents who had a family member join BGC 38.7% have never made any other contribution to BGC. Figure 16 below show the breakdown of percentage of respondent’s donations who also had a family member who had joined BGC.