Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale names eight Youth of the Year finalists at annual celebration

Eight BGCS 2018-19 BGCS Youth of the Year finalists, pictured from left to right: (back row) Tisha B., Caleb J., Michael B. and Jake M., (front row) Elyssa V., Alexandra G., Jessica V. and Tara M.

On Wednesday evening, the eight teen finalists who will compete to be named 2019 Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale Youth of the Year were announced. The finalists were selected from a field of 26 BGCS teens, representing eight local Clubs.

The finalists are: Tisha B., Virginia G. Piper Branch; Michael B., Vestar Branch; Alexandra G., Scottsdale Charros Branch; Caleb J., Red Mountain Branch (SRPMIC); Tara M., Thunderbirds Branch; Jake M., Mary Ellen & Robert McKee Branch; Elyssa V., Lehi Branch (SRPMIC); Jessica V., Hartley & Ruth Barker Branch.

“Our Youth of the Year candidates showcase the best parts of our Clubs at work,” said Robyn Julien, BGCS President & CEO. “Hats off to all 26 candidates, their Club advisors and families. We are so proud of them all. I can’t wait to watch our finalists — Tisha, Michael, Alexandra, Caleb, Tara, Jake, Elyssa and Jessica —  grow and progress as we approach our gala in March.”

The 2019 BGCS Youth of the Year will be named at the Celebrate Youth at Blue Door Ball, presented by Tiffany & Bosco, P.A. and Great American Title, Inc. held on March 1, 2019, at the J.W. Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. This annual gala and fundraiser raises critical dollars for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. At this event, all eight finalists will deliver their inspiring stories to an audience of 700+ community leaders and philanthropists.

Leading up to the March 1 gala, the eight finalists will meet weekly to
strengthen and hone their speaking, writing and interview skills in preparation for the final round of judging in February. The judging process for each round of competition assesses three essays, one 3-minute speech along with one-on-one and panel interviews with a group of community judges. All 26 candidates completed the first round of the competition and judging in early November.

Youth of the Year is a program run at Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. It highlights academic excellence, community service and Club leadership. Beginning at the local Club level, the program culminates with Boys & Girls Clubs of America naming a national Youth of the Year.

For more information about the work that BGCS is doing in your community, visit

Dedication of Ellie & Michael Ziegler Teen Center held for local philanthropists’ million-dollar gift to Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale (BGCS) formally dedicated the newly refreshed Ellie and Michael Ziegler Teen Center at its Vestar Branch in Desert Ridge on Monday, October 22, 2018. The renovations included new paint, flooring, a wall mural, new furniture, technology and safety updates, and the addition of a half gym to the existing Vestar facility built in 2007. 

The dedication ceremony marks the culmination of the 2017-18 One in a Million community matching challenge to fund new construction and revitalize the teen centers at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s Thunderbirds and Vestar Branches. Community leaders Ellie and Michael Ziegler provided the matching funds igniting community support and donations for the teen projects in the Grayhawk and Desert Ridge communities. 

“For more than a decade, this center has provided a safe place for teens after school and during the summer,” said Ellie Ziegler, speaking to more than 60 dedication ceremony attendees at the Vestar Branch. “Michael and I want to thank this community for the passionate, unrivaled support in recognizing this need and for continuing to believe in our kids” 

Nearly 100 teens attend the center at Vestar every day. One of BGCS’s busiest Clubs, Vestar has more than 2,500 registered members, 600 of whom are teens. 

“Ellie and Michael have invested in local youth and our community with a commitment to creating higher education opportunities and providing positive role models for youth and teens,” said Robyn Julien, BGCS President and CEO. “Upon hearing of the need at our Vestar Branch for safety updates, technical upgrades and a refresh of the facility including the half gym addition, Ellie and Michael led the cause. We are so proud to have their name on this facility.”  

“For me the Ellie & Michael Ziegler Teen Center is where I go after school to have fun with my friends, get my homework done and hang out in the computer room making music,” said Bella, Club teen and Keystone member. “We volunteer at St. Mary’s Food Bank and work on service projects to make our community better for everyone,” she explained about the Keystone academic and community service program. 

 The Ellie & Michael Ziegler Teen Center includes the Rikki & Barry Chasse Games Room; the Cox Innovation Lab; the Terri & John Heitel Homework Room; the Kevin Rowe Teen Lounge; the Michele & Stephen Schwanz Teen Office; and the Liz & Mike Thorell Music & Multimedia Center. Julien recognized all of the investors for their contributions and commitment to youth and teens in Desert Ridge.  

The Vestar Club was named in honor of Vestar Corporation who provided the interior design for the refresh project. “Vestar Corporation continues to put kids and community first by helping with big and little things around the Club to keep it fresh, fun and safe,” said Julien. 

“We know there are many charities all of you can donate to,” Michael, high school junior and Vestar Keystone Club President, told the honorees and donors at the ceremony. “We are here being active, playing volleyball, planning and completing service projects helping others and our community, getting our homework done and hanging out with friends—in person—not on our phones. We are developing skills that help us work with others and doing things we can put on our resumes and college applications…all because of you.”

Power Hour homework help program at Boys & Girls Club makes all the difference in Lehi Branch member’s academic gains

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ (October 9, 2018) – Ava, age 10, used to struggle with math in school. But after school, Ava attends the Lehi Branch of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale (BGCS), located in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, where she takes advantage of the Club’s Power Hour homework help program. Because of her dedication coupled with Power Hour led by Lehi Branch staff, Ava does her homework every day and is now an “A” student.

Power Hour is an interactive, after-school homework assistance program for children aged 6 to 18 years. Unlike assignments done in class, Power Hour work is conducted in a fun after-school environment with Club youth development professionals, adults or older students who supervise homework completion.

“It is important that kids have a dedicated time and place to complete their homework, especially for kids whose parents aren’t able to help at home,” said Curt McReynolds, BGCS Chief Operation Officer. “Our staff utilize a variety of methods and apply real-life skills to the learning process.”

After seeing the results of her hard work, Ava spends her time in the Learning Center with a more positive attitude. She is excited and eager to get her homework finished.

“At the Club, I get my homework done and help when I need it during Power Hour,” said Ava. “The Learning Center is a quiet place where I can focus.”


“Last year transformed Ava’s mindset about homework,” said Samantha Lyons, Learning Center staff member. “Ava was discouraged by her math homework, but we encouraged her to not give up. Ava does her homework every day and continues to be dedicated to improving her grades in math and other subjects. We are so proud of her achievements.”

Power Hour homework help is part of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s Globally Competitive Graduate initiative which is offered at all nine branch locations. On average, 113 kids attend the Lehi Branch after-school program each day. The average daily attendance for after-school programming at all nine Greater Scottsdale Clubs is 1,329.

To find a Branch near you or learn more about our programming, visit

Nintendo and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale host free STEM workshops using Nintendo Labo program

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ (August 31, 2018) – Nintendo and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale (BGCS) have teamed up to offer free STEM Nintendo Labo programming. Workshops will be held at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale branches throughout September and early October. Any child age 9 – 12 is welcomed to register. Kids will be assigned a time slot based on their age. Nintendo is hosting these 60-minute workshops across the country.

“We see and value the importance of STEM learning opportunities for our kids,” said Curt McReynolds, BGCS Chief Operating Officer. “Nintendo is a master of technology and our kids will surely benefit from being exposed to their products. We have already held a couple of workshops in our other Clubs and our kids are responding positively.”

Nintendo Labo aligns with both Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s Globally Competitive Graduate and Innovative Dream Maker initiatives, focusing on STEM learning and creative ways to problem solve.

Nintendo Labo uses a DIY cardboard kit and Nintendo Switch to bring projects to life. In the workshop kids will build, customize, and experiment with the Toy-Con RC Car.

Register for a workshop at your local branch today at

Dates and times for your local Boys & Girls Clubs are listed below. All sessions will be held at 4:00 p.m., 5:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. EXCEPT at our Vestar Branch


Virginia G. Piper Branch

10515 E. Lakeview Dr.

Scottsdale, AZ 85258

Dates: Tuesday, September 25


Vestar Branch

3975 E. Lockwood

Phoenix, AZ 85050

Dates: Thursday, September 20


Red Mountain Branch

11725 E. Indian School Road

Scottsdale, AZ 85256

Dates: Wednesday, September 26 and Wednesday, October 3


Lehi Branch

1231 East Oak

Mesa, AZ 85203

Dates: Wednesday, September 19 and Monday, October 1


Hartley & Ruth Barker Branch

2311 N. Miller Rd.

Scottsdale, AZ 85257

Dates: Tuesday, October 2 and Thursday, October 4


Scottsdale Charros Branch

6535 E. Osborn Rd.

Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Dates: Thursday, September 27


Mary Ellen & Robert McKee Branch

14605 North Del Cambre

Fountain Hills, AZ 85268

Dates: Monday, September 24 and Friday, 28


Thunderbirds Branch

20199 N. 78th Place

Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Dates: Monday, September 10


Proposed Federal Tax Regulations Changes

The IRS, on Thursday, August 23, issued proposed regulations that will disallow federal charitable tax deductions for certain state tax credit donations received after this Monday, August 27, 2018.

If you itemize your federal taxes this may impact the deductibility of your tax credit support for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale through the Qualifying Charitable Organization Tax Credit and the Qualifying Foster Care Tax Credit.

This will not affect your Arizona state taxes. Please consult your tax advisor with any questions.

Please click HERE to act NOW for your 2018 Charitable Tax Credit and Qualifying Foster Care Tax Credit.

Thank you for investing your Arizona Tax Credit in helping local youth, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential.

Receive a dollar-for-dollar credit on Arizona state taxes, up to $400 for individuals and $800 for joint filers for the Qualifying Charitable Organizations Tax Credit and up to $500 or $1,000 for the Qualifying Foster Care Organizations Tax Credit. The Credits are independent of one another and the state of Arizona allows you to claim the full amount for both as separate credits. Although these gifts will cost you nothing, for our kids it’s priceless.


Single mom caring for six kids thankful for Ellie & Michael Ziegler’s generosity as her family prepares for the new school year

Ziegler’s Prep Rally Back to School shopping days help 400+ Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale kids get ready for school

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ (July 24, 2018) – On the first day of four back to school shopping days sponsored by community leaders Ellie & Michael Ziegler, 220 Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale (BGCS) kids, selected by need, shopped for new clothes and shoes at the Desert Ridge Kohl’s.

“Because of this generosity, my children will return to school confident and ready for the challenges ahead,” said Angela Chavez, Club parent caring for six children. “It is a powerful movement when someone recognizes and appreciates a single/foster mother who goes beyond her means to try and provide for her family.”

Mom of 10-year-old Taliyah and 9-year-old Amirah, Chavez is also foster mom to four children ranging in age from infancy to teens. Chavez’s children have attended Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s Hartley & Ruth Barker Branch in south Scottsdale since August 2015. Taliyah, Amirah and 11-year-old Alazia shopped at today’s Prep Rally.

Each child is allotted $100 and paired with a community volunteer who serves as a shopping chaperone. Backpacks filled with school supplies provided in partnership with Assistance League of Phoenix and the Legacy Foundation were also distributed to each child.

“In creating a day to fulfill back to school needs, Michael and I are the beneficiaries of thousands of smiles and indescribable joy,” said Ellie Ziegler. “Our dream is to make the next generation’s lives a little bit easier. We value and celebrate these kid’s resilience, courage, ideals and hard work in school, their homes and their communities.”

An additional 250 youth and teens from BGCS will shop later this week, including members from the Peach Springs Branch who will go to the Kohl’s Flagstaff location.

To add to the excitement of the day, Arizona State University Men’s Basketball Coach Bobby Hurley and his 2018-19 team were on hand at the kickoff event with a message of inspiration.

Prep Rally relies heavily on community and corporate engagement, as each child is paired with their own adult volunteer including representatives of the Arizona Coyotes, Big YAM, Charles Schwab, GoDaddy, Sons of Arizona, Sunland Asphalt, TopGolf and Voya Financial.

“Ellie and Michael’s vision of bringing the community together through this event is what makes it so special,” said Robyn Julien, BGCS President & CEO. “Not only are our kids excited about new clothes and shoes, but volunteers get the chance to meet and spend a couple of hours shopping with them. We appreciate Ellie, Michael and all the volunteers for making this day memorable and fun for our Club kids.”

The Zieglers have invested their time and more than $500,000 over six years to help outfit and prepare thousands of kids for school.

GoDaddy presents sixth annual Live & Local event scheduled for Nov. 11, proceeds benefiting Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale

Event passes are now on sale for the sixth annual Live & Local evening festival celebrating Arizona food, music, beer and spirits. Live & Local is presented by GoDaddy and will take place on Sunday, November 11 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Live & Local will take over The District at Desert Ridge Marketplace for the second year in a row as a benefit for the 20,000 youth served by Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale (BGCS).

Live & Local is hosted by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale Associate Board in partnership with Arizona Restaurant Association and is supported by community corporate sponsors. Live & Local features local restaurants, mixologists and performers. Sponsorship opportunities are available including ticket packages and inclusion on promotional materials.

The early bird discounted price for event passes is $110 each available until September 15. Standard pricing of $150 per pass begins after that. Event passes include drink samples from multiple full cocktail bars, a beer garden, wine stations and dish samples from more than 20 local restaurants including Tryst Café, The Dhaba and Mustache Pretzel Truck. Passes also include access to on-stage entertainment including DJ Miss Mixx and Nate Nathan & The MacDaddy-Os.

“We are proud to continue our support of local businesses and musicians, while giving back to our community and the youth served by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale,” said Stacy Cline, Director of Social Impact at GoDaddy.

Proceeds benefit BGCS youth development initiatives such as Innovative Dream-Makers and Healthy Game-Changers. Innovative Dream-Makers programming teaches and encourages kids to explore their artistic and entrepreneurial potential through a variety of programs. Healthy Game-Changers teaches kids fitness, nutrition and life skills that promote teamwork, healthy choices and emotional intelligence.

“We are grateful to GoDaddy, Vestar and all of our sponsors and partners who support our youth and their Great Futures by making Live & Local possible,” Robyn Julien, BGCS President & CEO. “It is always amazing to watch our community come together for our kids at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. The funds and awareness raised at this event truly make a difference in the lives of our youth and the communities we serve.”

Find tickets, event information and sponsorship opportunities at Attendees must be 21 years or older with a valid photo ID.

Marena Sever, State Youth of the Year heads to Regional competition in southern California

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ (July 9, 2018) – Marena Sever, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale Hilton Family Teen Center member will be representing BGCS and the state of Arizona at the Regional Youth of the Year competition this week in southern California. Marena has been a Thunderbirds Branch member for 10 years.

“It was at the Thunderbirds Branch that I grew from a shy, insecure 8-year-old to a strong, spirited advocate for today’s youth,” says Marena.

“I have had the privilege of knowing Marena for her entire Club journey,” said Liz Byrne, Branch Director Thunderbirds Branch. “She has become such an impressive young woman, and she never ceases to amaze me with her empathy, leadership skills, and dedication to excellence in all things that she does. I know that she will do great in this process, and I am so excited to have the honor of experiencing it with her.”

Marena is the first BGCS member to be named Arizona State Youth of the Year and compete at the Regional level since 2011.

“My process of preparing for the regional competition can best be characterized as nervous excitement,” said Marena. “It brings me such joy to be representing not only my city, but my state. I’m especially looking forward to befriending all of the other state YOY’s.”

Youth of the Years from Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington will join Marena in Los Angeles for activities and the culminating gala on July 12. Marena will compete in a judging session in Beverly Hills, take a Disney studios tour, participate in a Disney leadership session and meet her State YoY peers.

The Pacific Youth Region Youth of the Year will go to the National Youth of the Year competition in Washington D.C., in September.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale names Robyn Julien as President & CEO

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale (BGCS) selected Robyn Julien, third-generation Arizona native and known local non-profit leader, to fill the position of President & CEO. Julien comes from the Arizona Burn Foundation where she served as their CEO.

“It was top-of-mind for the organization to find someone who was locally-invested and respected,” said Allen Thompson, BGCS Board Chair. “We are incredibly impressed by Robyn’s past career accomplishments and her passion for our youth. We know she is a great fit for our organization.”

Julien’s experience and success with high-level fundraising in the Scottsdale and Phoenix area will be an asset for the next stage of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

“I am excited to join Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s team as their President & CEO,” said Robyn Julien, newly-named BGCS President & CEO. “It is evident that staff, Board members and volunteers are devoted to helping our kids, which makes this organization stand out. I believe that together we can keep making positive strides for our kids who rely on us.”

Julien is a Certified Public Accountant, working in public accounting at the beginning stages of her career. She has worked in non-profit development in the Valley for more than 10 years, spending time with the American Heart Association, Scottsdale Arts and most recently the Arizona Burn Foundation.

BGCS conducted a large-scale search to find their next leader after announcing that Dr. Lisa Hurst, previous President & CEO, had been selected to join the leadership team at Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Julien’s first day with the organization is scheduled for Friday, June 29.

Ribbon Cut for New Guenther/Curran Family Gymnasium and Hilton Family Teen Center

On Monday, June 4, members and families of the Thunderbirds Branch of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale (BGCS) gathered with community leaders and supporters to celebrate the opening of the new Guenther/Curran Family Gymnasium and the Hilton Family Teen Center.

Marianne and Glenn Guenther, who funded the Guenther/Curran Family Gymnasium, and Steve and Suzanne Hilton, benefactors of the Hilton Family Teen Center, cut the ribbon with Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane on hand,marking the start of a new era for teens in the Grayhawk community with their own dedicated space at the Thunderbirds Branch.

“When there is no teen center, staying involved in the Boys & Girls Club can become more difficult when you get older,” said Tatum Trainor, former Thunderbirds Branch Youth of the Year and BGCS Alumnus. “It is crucial to have a place where middle schoolers and high schoolers can be surrounded by members their same age, staff who are dedicated to them and programming focusing on their needs and interests.” Trainor, who hopes to become a grade school teacher, works at the Club while she is home from Northern Arizona University for the summer.

Teen Club members now have their own entrance to the gymnasium and teen center that includes a fitness center, games room, teen lounge, kitchen, technology center and performing arts room.

“We hope that hours of fun and physical activity happen here, that new friends are made and that great futures have a chance to start,” said Marianne Guenther. “This is more than a building and more than just a gym or a teen center. This is a place where young people can feel safe, a place for growth and a place where leaders of tomorrow are born.”

The 12,624 square foot addition to the Thunderbirds Branch will allow the Club to serve 200 more kids and teens on a daily basis. The Thunderbirds Branch has already seen an increase in teen membership since opening the new teen center and gym doors last month.

“We’ve lived in this community for 15 years and that’s why the Hilton Family Teen Center is so important to us and why I’m happy that we were able to make this happen,” said Steve Hilton. “Kids and their families need facilities like this available to them. This is only the start for a lot of great things to happen here.”

“The support from the Guenther/Curran and Hilton families is not only incredibly generous, but vital to answer the needs for teens in our Grayhawk community,” said Curt McReynolds, BGCS Chief Operating Officer. “These new facilities are the result of a community coming alongside major investors as part of our million-dollar-matching campaign which also included gifts from Bob and Renee Parsons for The Bob & Renee Parsons Technology Center; David Lorsch and Cindy Lubin for the David Lorsch, Cindy Lubin & Family Teen Lounge; Stephen and Michele Schwanz for the Michele & Stephen Schwanz Fitness Center; and Mark and Amanda Bosco for the Mark & Amanda Bosco Family Games Room.”

Bollinger Consulting Architects designed the new facilities built by Hardison/Downey Construction, Inc.