CLEVELAND, Ohio — Access to after school programs can be limited in low-income communities, but the demand for these activities is high.

To fill in the gaps for those neighborhoods, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio are expanding services so more children have a place to go after school.

  • There are 39 sites throughout Northeast Ohio that serve close to 9,000 families
  • The mission is to provide a safe place for children and keep them off the streets
  • Kids can advance their learning with STEM and career-readiness activities, sports and music production

Last year, clubs in Cleveland, Akron, Lorain and Erie counties merged — the largest ever Boy & Girls Club merger in the U.S. The reason for the merger was to allow more access to the clubs in more places.

There are 39 sites throughout Northeast Ohio which serve close to 9,000 families.

"Often times, schools are reducing their commitment to after school programs, especially in the urban and rural communities. I think it's more needed than it ever has, when we look at the kids we serve, about 70 percent are single-parent families," said Ron Soeder, interim president/CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland.

At the clubs, kids can advance their learning with STEM and career-readiness activities, sports and music production, among other activities.

"In higher-end neighborhoods or communities, kids may have access to the equipment and in underprivileged areas they don't. It gives youth an outlet to express themselves and it's something that keeps them off the street," said Ryan Easter, metro director for Notes for Notes.

The mission of the Boys & Girls Club is to provide a safe place for children who otherwise may not have one.

"I lost my wife, so it's been like my other half to help me, they spend a lot of time here after school, they come home, the homework is done like it's supposed to," said Donzell Rogers, Cleveland father.

The Cleveland Cavaliers recently donated $50,000 to the organization as part of the team's 50th season celebration that includes support for local charities.

"I feel like right now is a great time and probably the most important time to be inside here," said Monica Marshall, outdoor and environmental manager, Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland.

"The club, to me, saved me from being in the streets, saved me from getting into a lot of trouble, the club has always been a big part of my life," said Richard Starr, club athletic director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland.