How to Drive Great Partnerships: Reflecting on $20M for America’s Youth
At Boys & Girls Clubs of America, we are grateful to have many outstanding corporate partners who are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to build great futures for our youth across the country. Through the years, we have found that the foundation of a strong partnership is twofold: engagement and long-term commitment. This year, one particular partner stands out – having recently reached a monumental fundraising milestone that demonstrates the power of scale and local connection.
Nearly a decade ago, Bridgestone — a global leader in tires and rubber — approached Boys & Girls Clubs of America to explore the development of a giving program that could engage teammates and customers at its more than 2,200 tire and vehicle service centers across the United States. The business came to Boys & Girls Clubs of America for the impact that our programs, clubhouses and mentors make on youth every day, in every community their retail stores serve.
In 2015, the Driving Great Futures initiative with Bridgestone was launched with the mission of making out-of-school programming more accessible to our youth and their families. Funds raised come directly from customers and teammates of Bridgestone’s company-owned retail operations locations nationwide, including Firestone Complete Auto Care. While the partnership initially addressed reliable transportation — one of the greatest barriers kids face in accessing out-of-school programming — it has evolved to bridge divides of all kinds, including technology, nutrition and more.
This year, Driving Great Futures reached an exciting milestone, raising and donating $20 million to address transportation-related and technology divides needs at clubs across the country. This in and of itself is a moment for celebration and a testament to the power of galvanizing many to give just a little to raise a lot. But Bridgestone did not stop there.
Building on the fundraising success that came from aligning their national footprint with that of Boys & Girls Clubs, last month Bridgestone tapped into their relationship with Tight End University, a yearly summit for many of the NFL’s top tight ends to build camaraderie, share ideas and make an impact in their communities. Similar to how it has rallied its teammates and customers for the past seven years, Bridgestone asked players participating in this year’s Tight End University Summit to compete against one another to see who could raise the most funds for their hometown Boys & Girls Club. The result was astounding. In less than two weeks, fans around the nation stepped up and raised a total of $131,000 for clubs in NFL markets. Along with Bridgestone’s additional $500,000 donation and Tight End University’s competition, the campaign culminated in a total of $681,000 for clubs across the country in celebration of $20 million raised through Driving Great Futures.
As we applaud and thank all those who have so generously funded the work of Boys & Girls Clubs of America through Driving Great Futures, we also reflect on what has made this partnership so impactful — and how we and others can learn from and leverage its successes in the future. When corporations like Bridgestone don’t just give but gather others to play a role in grassroots support with a direct and clear impact on their local communities, it makes all the difference. It creates a sustainable pipeline of generosity, fueled by individuals from every corner of the country who want to participate because the youth and families they help are in their own backyards. We are proud of the program we’ve created together with Bridgestone, and we look forward to many more fundraising milestones in the years to come.