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Boys & Girls Clubs eye merger with Teen Services

Two organizations that serve and support teenagers in Sonoma Valley this month announced a plan to integrate their services, a process leaders say is still evolving.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley and Teen Services Sonoma will blend their programs in Sonoma Valley, said Cary Snowden, president and CEO of the local Boys & Girls Clubs. The executive committees of each voted this week to explore a merger.

“We’re still defining what it is going to look like,” said Judy Scotchmoor, president of the board of directors for Teen Services Sonoma. “We’re on a journey together. We’re not sure just yet what it’s going to look like. We’re looking at all the options we have.”

The two organizations have long been confused with one another, Scotchmoor said, with people often asking what the difference is between them. There has always been some overlap in services and programming, as well as teens served, she said.

The initial “integration” of the two programs is now a planned “merger,” Snowden said, adding that details are still being worked out.

The staffs of the two organizations have been working together with a cohort to conduct a program analysis and identify each group’s strengths and opportunities. The three-year cohort includes the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, La Luz Center, Art Escape and Sonoma Overnight Support.

The groups realized that Teen Services Sonoma and Boys & Girls Clubs were complementary to one another, Scotchmoor said.

The timing works well for the Boys & Girls Club, which recently announced a decision to not renew the lease, which ends in December 2021, of The Club, its teen-focused site in Maxwell Village Shopping Center. The cost of the facility is unsustainable, Snowden said. Activities conducted at The Club will move to the current site of Teen Services at 17440 Sonoma Highway, in what Scotchmoor described as a sort of “one-stop shop.”

The two groups have collaborated and referred teens to one another’s groups for a while now, she said. And the executive committees of each organization are working together to take a look at what each group is already doing, how they can improve on programs and services, and what they can add for the future.

“As we’ve gotten to know each other better, now we come to this place in our relationship. It’s all about putting teens first,” Scotchmoor said.

Teen Services has an active Ready to Work program that will be updated with distance-learning components, plus videos and elements of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s evidence-based Career Launch and Money Matters programs.

An example of the integration is creating the first cohort of Teen Service’s leadership program “Team Up” that will be a prerequisite for members to hold officer positions in the Boys & Girls Clubs’ leadership program, Keystone.

’It’s all about putting teens first,.’ - Judy Scotchmoor

A teen council will be developed and led by teens to create a safe place for teens to discuss anything and everything – from concerns about the coronavirus, to college, to relationships.

Programs such as Teen Service’s Lovin’ Oven and Operation Bicycle, which offer work experience, will continue.

“Ultimately we will be able to provide breadth and depth in programs and services that really will mean that teens have more than a basic support system in place,” Scotchmoor said.

"Our investment in the Sonoma Valley nonprofit capacity building cohort is an investment in building trust among both individuals and organizations. The integration of Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley and Teen Services Sonoma is an excellent example of what transformative changes can take place when nonprofit leaders put those being served — Sonoma Valley youth — at the center of the circle and reimagine organizational systems and structures around them.” said Elizabeth Brown, President and CEO, Community Foundation Sonoma County. “We are grateful to the staff and boards of both organizations to launch this innovative approach during this time of the coronavirus pandemic, a time that calls for a boldness in both ideas and action. This integration will strengthen the services they offer teens, and benefit the entire community.”

Email Anne at anne.ernst@sonomanews.com.

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