SIU teams up with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Illinois to provide educational opportunities

Opening up more opportunities for young people. That's the goal of a new partnership between SIU and the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Illinois
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 3:18 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2022 at 4:20 PM CDT
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CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - An agreement between Southern Illinois University and the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Illinois will create new mentoring and educational opportunities for members in the region.

This collaboration between the university and the nonprofit organization can benefit between 700 to 1,800 students annually.

The agreement was signed on October 4 during an event at BGCSI’s administrative offices in Carbondale. It was signed by SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane and BGCSI chief executive officer Tina Carpenter.

According to a release from SIU, the agreement will create volunteer and internship opportunities, Saluki Commitment scholarships for BGCSI employees and scholarship opportunity for BGCSI’s Youth of the Year.

SIU and BGCSI have worked on many partnership since the nonprofit organization’s inception in 2004 through internships, volunteers and employment opportunities for students. According to Carpenter, making a formal partnership “means a commitment to the youth of Southern Illinois and our commitment to the university.”

“It’s a win for SIU, it’s a win for the Boys and Girls Club and it’s a win for the community of Carbondale,” said Tina Carpenter, CEO of the Boys and girls Clubs of Southern Illinois.

She said this partnership allows opportunities for members of the club to experience SIU in a variety of ways.

“And access to summer camps that they might not be able to afford otherwise. I mean, we do a lot in the summer but to be able to do something that’s focused on engineering or the Lego camps or even going out to touch of nature and getting involved with environmental type camps. That opens up the world for the kids,” Carpenter explained.

And leaders at SIU want to show the kids what the university has to offer.

“We want to make sure that everyone in southern Illinois and the region understands that SIU is obtainable. We want them to work hard while they’re in school, so that as they’re preparing to go to college that SIU is their first choice destination,” said Jeffery Burgin, vice chancellor for Student Affairs at SIU.

Burgin said they are working to best assist the youth however they can.

“We have an institutional of higher education that wants to pour into this community and always enhance the relationship of not just Carbondale but the greater Carbondale area and the region,” said Burgin.

Carpenter also said this partnership will show kids future career opportunities.

“This partnership is going to help them be able to understand do I want to go to college or do I want to do technical school. So even if they decide I’m not going to go to SIU at least they’ve been given an opportunity to see what that could be like based on what it is they are interested in doing with the rest of their lives,” said Carpenter.

Dr. Burgin shares with me that their goal is to have at least 500 to 600 student volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club this year.

This is SIU’s eighth agreement since 2021 with a school district or youth organization. Other recent partners include Carbondale Elementary School District No. 95, Girls Inc. of St. Louis, and Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois.