December 5, 2019

BGCSM Celebrates 61st Great Futures Awards & Announces $2M Grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

BGCSM to Honor Tony Saunders, COO of Rock Ventures with the 2019 Youth Champion Award and Honor Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation with an Early Adopter Award

DETROIT – December 5, 2019 – The 2019 Great Future Awards, presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan’s premiere event and end of year celebration. The event will take place Thursday, December 12, 2019 with doors opening at 6:00 p.m. at the Garden Theater, 3929 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201.

This year, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will receive the first-ever early adopter award and announce a $2 million matching grant to BGCSM. Jim Boyle, vice president of programs and communications, will accept the award on behalf of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

“The Early Adopter Award was created in 2019 to recognize partners who are willing to invest in new, innovative and bold ideas early in the process,” said Shawn H. Wilson, BGCSM President & CEO. “They are more than funders; they are thought partners and champions who recognize the need to evolve in order to consistently meet community needs. We are excited to recognize the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.”

Over the next three years, BGCSM plans to raise $15 million to reimagine the Club experience for youth and their families. To date, BGCSM has raised over $5 million toward that goal. The grant from Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will match $1 for every $2 raised.

“Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan has truly taken a bold step in reimagining what recreation and afterschool programming could look like to better serve today’s youth,” said Jim Boyle, vice president of programs and communications at the Wilson Foundation. “Their innovative and multi-generational approach has great potential to be a driver of economic mobility not only for youth, but also their families and surrounding community. We’re proud to help provide this lift to their campaign and get them closer to their funding goal.”

Tony Saunders, Club Alumnus & Chief Operations Officer at Rock Ventures, will receive the Youth Champion Award. This award honors an outstanding advocate that provides opportunities for youth to reach their full potential. From his work as the former emergency manager for the city of Benton Harbor, Michigan to launching a $25,000 scholarship and internship program for graduating seniors at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Saunders’ commitment to youth spans throughout the state of Michigan. He takes his Club experiences and passes it along to the youth of today.

“I am humbled to receive the Youth Champion Award this year and I don’t take this recognition lightly,” said Tony Saunders, COO at Rock Ventures. “It is important for leaders to take the time to pour into the communities we live and work in, especially into those organizations that helped us become the individuals we are today. I am proud to receive this award and will continue my commitment to empower youth across southeastern Michigan.”

“As a former Club kid, I am always excited to see other alumni give back to the Boys & Girls Clubs and the communities where they were raised,” says Hiram Jackson, BGCSM Board Chair. “Tony is a very successful professional in the Detroit business community, but more importantly, he is using his platform to help youth achieve their own dreams. He has never forgotten the lessons he learned in the Holden Building on the east side of Detroit and is a perfect example of why it is important for our Club kids to see how our alumni become successful adults and major contributors to the community.”

For more information on 2019 Great Future Awards including tickets and sponsorship opportunities, see more here.

During this season of giving, your generous support of BGCSM will create opportunities to help more kids and teens achieve great futures. To contribute to the Reimagine campaign or to learn more about other ways to give, contact Arda Kafafian at akafafian@bgcsm.org or visit www.bgcsm.org/donate.

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