- Tech Insights
As CEO of Newark's Boys & Girls Club (BGCN), Ameer Washington will celebrate 32 years of engagement in the Boys & Girls Club Movement this September. His ability to steer the organization to unprecedented success in less than two years comes from his hands-on approach to leadership. Ameer empowers his directors to manage their departments as business owners while working collectively toward common goals. Each member of his entire staff has unfettered access to him through an open-door policy and weekly sessions where they can voice their concerns called “Tea with Wash.” This approach has allowed him and his team to identify challenges and opportunities and respond to them quickly.
Most essential to his success is his experience as a Club Member, front-line staff member, site director, and development professional. Ameer is also a native of Newark. This allows him to tap into a network of residents, stakeholders, and professionals who have known him for decades. His deep roots within the community and organization give him a perspective that is very difficult to replicate.
Ameer is bold, confident, and passionate and desires to change how people think about nonprofit organizations fundamentally. He’s committed to the idea that his organization is not a charity but a business with a charitable purpose for the benefit of the youth and families BGCN serves. He emphasizes that the tax-exempt status of the organization exhibits that its purpose is not to generate profits. Yet, he reminds his team daily that it will take a considerable investment of time, dollars, and talent from staff, partners, and other community stakeholders to overcome the challenges facing their constituents.
"Ameer is bold, confident, and passionate and desires to change how people think about nonprofit organizations fundamentally. He’s committed to the idea that his organization is not a charity but a business with a charitable purpose for the benefit of the youth and families BGCN serves."
Most of all, Ameer is humble, transparent, desirous of feedback, and enjoys a challenge. He constantly strives to push the boundaries of what’s possible for Newark and its youth. Boys & Girls Club of Newark has a long history in Newark. He wants his legacy as the CEO to be defined by how many young people’s lives are made better by the impact of BGCN.
BGCN’s healthcare initiatives are worth a mention, which includes free vision care and eyeglasses through a mobile care provider, The Children’s Dental Center founded by Dr. Michael Gruber, now in partnership with The KinderSmile Foundation along with The READY Family Wellness Center (RFWC). The READY Family Wellness Center provides mental and behavioral health support under the direction of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. “Many of our young people present with anxiety, ADHD, depression, and other traumas they experience in their lives. Being able to have a place where they and their families can receive supportive counseling and referrals is essential to their growth and development. Having parents be a part of that process is so impactful to helping them provide support to their children,” says Ameer.
While BGCN has always taken safety, training, and development seriously, having a clinical professional on staff has helped them raise the bar for ensuring kids succeed. They implement trauma-informed care training through an ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) lens that ensures staff can spot the signs of trauma. “Together with our wellness professionals, behavioral plans and crisis intervention plans can be put into place for youth who need additional support,” adds Ameer. “Adding these components to our offerings strengthened our classic youth development services by addressing our members’ and their families’ basic needs.”
On September 19, 2021, BGCN will host its 5K to Wellness and Day for Kids event at Branch Brook Park, the nation’s first county park. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness about the importance of mental and behavioral health, particularly on children. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on youth's emotional and mental well-being, and many experts have remarked on the expected long-term effects. BGCN wants to be at the forefront of the fight to ensure the mental wellness of the community. “The 5K to Wellness event will allow us to expand staffing and grow the READY Family Wellness Center into a full-service mental health clinic for both youth and the greater community.” IE
Chief Executive Officer of Boys & Girls Club of Newark
The mission of the Boys & Girls Club of Newark (BGCN) is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring responsible adults. Our vision is to provide a world-class Club Experience that assures success is within reach of every young person who enters our doors, with all members on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, demonstrating good character and citizenship, and living a healthy lifestyle.