An Innovative Operating Model in Rural America
Advance Mississippi was born of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s (BGCA) realization that rural Clubs were struggling to keep their doors open and provide quality service in some of our nation’s neediest communities. In 2014, a team of BGCA Operations Development staff proposed to BGCA’s Board of Governors that they create a focused initiative to address rural America’s Clubs. The Board of Governors approved $750,000 in funding to be spread over three years of the initiative and identified that the seven organizations in the northern half of Mississippi would be the target market for the pilot. In December of 2015, the Advance Mississippi initiative began to take shape with the hiring of the first dedicated staff.
The initiative will be successful when the goals of increasing sustainable local and regional funding and increasing the number of youth served in local communities have been reached via definining sustainable, innovative operating models for the local organizations.
In 2016 Advance Mississippi focused on understanding the issues that Mississippi’s rural Clubs experience and assessing the Clubs’ needs. In March of 2016, Clubs came together for their first collaborative learning session in conjunction with the Southeast Leadership Conference. The focus of that first meeting was the potential for shared services as identified by the Clubs through a survey. The areas identified to explore were: Collaborative RD Services, Financial Management Services, IT Support Services, and Marketing Services.
Since that first collaborative session, Advance Mississippi has worked closely with the Clubs to implement or prepare to implement the following: