HomeSuccess StoriesRevitalizing Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver’s Student Recruitment and Retention Strategy Charles Schwab

Revitalizing Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver’s Student Recruitment and Retention Strategy

"In the short time we’ve gotten to know you, your passion is clear. The more parents see you, the more they’re going to want their kids to be involved."

Charles Schwab skills-based volunteer

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Day of Service - Full-scale program management of a skills-based day, week, or month of service.

For six decades, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver has excited youth ages 6-18 with a wealth of quality programming in fun areas like athletics & outdoor activities, STEM & robotics, and cooking – all designed to provide them a safe, supportive, and enriching environment that inspires them to achieve their greatest potential. At the start of the 2021-2022 school year, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver’s 21 neighborhood clubs finally resumed their regular in-person operations following a year and a half of virtual, pivoted, and scaled back programming due to COVID-19. Staff expected student registration and attendance would initially be lower than it was before the pandemic, but even months into the school year, the numbers were still below what they had anticipated. They knew they needed fresh ideas to re-engage old club members and get new kids in the door – and the Charles Schwab Pro Bono Challenge with partner Common Impact was the perfect opportunity to tap into outside perspectives for getting past their recruitment plateau.

A team of Charles Schwab skills-based volunteers met with Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver staff to learn about their current recruitment pipeline and tactics as well as individual club nuances, like how some had experienced more significant declines in engagement than others or that sites required different strategies based on whether they served elementary, middle, or high school students. The staff expressed that they were looking for big ideas and out-of-the-box thinking to regain the excitement of the pre-pandemic days, so Schwabbies got to work brainstorming refinements and new approaches.

Just a week later, they came back to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver with a student recruitment and retention strategy focused on three key areas: appealing to youth and teens, connecting with parents, and engaging the community. Each pillar of the plan included a set of ideas the staff could pick and choose from and customize to their available resources, capacity, and priorities. Some of their favorites included a referral program to encourage club members to bring their friends, attendance and milestone rewards to keep them coming back regularly, trainings on how to properly and safely use social media to share their club experiences, and an interclub eSports league to tap into kids’ love of gaming to draw them in and introduce them to other programming. “We like to use what they’re really passionate about and try to incorporate other enrichment opportunities that they’ll enjoy,” a staff member noted.

The Schwabbies shared specific advice for implementing these ideas and assured the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver staff that it doesn’t have to be complex to start; they could begin by enhancing the strategies and platforms they were already using – like using Facebook to reach parents – before moving on to higher investment, higher potential ideas such as developing a mobile app for students to collect digital badges for attendance and completing challenges, organizing a carpool program to help parents overcome transportation barriers, or creating a social media ambassador program. Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, President & Board Chair at the Charles Schwab Foundation and Senior Vice President of Community Services, even suggested they could bring in marketing skills-based volunteers through Charles Schwab or Common Impact to support student social media trainings or further development of the recruitment strategy. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver staff were thrilled to have a wide range of ideas that resonated with each of their individual sites and reported feeling reinvigorated in their recruitment and retention efforts. We can’t wait to see where the new ideas take them!