Eric Richards Named CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Boone County
By Amy Adams
Eric Richards describes himself as a “club kid,” having grown up spending time at the Boys & Girls Club (BGC) of Johnson County in Franklin.
“Even at a young age, it was very important to me to give back,” Richards says.
He fondly recalls his elementary school’s yearly canned-food drive, when he would pull his wagon door to door throughout his neighborhood filling it with donations.
Now, with 24 years of experience in the nonprofit world, Richards has come to the Boys & Girls Club of Boone County as the new CEO. He holds a master’s degree in philanthropic studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, and most recently served as president and CEO of Cancer Support Community Indiana for nine years.
“I’m bringing my executive experience and fundraising experience,” Richards says. “Plus, I live in Boone County. My kids go to school here. I really want the chance to give back and become entrenched in the community.”
With three locations in Zionsville, Whitestown and Lebanon, BGC Boone serves a diverse group of young people between the ages of 5 and 18.
“We want parents to know that there’s an affordable place to send their kids,” Richards says. “It’s structured. It’s not a free-for-all. And moms and dads who work can know their kids are going to a safe place.”
During the school year, the club offers before-school and after-school programs. BGC Boone is also known for its sports programs, particularly basketball, which serves approximately 700 kids with fall and winter leagues.
During summer break, BGC Boone kicks into overdrive, staying open from at least 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. This year, summer camp takes kids “Around the World in 40 Days,” including activity rotations with games, gym, art and more.
With themes like “Safari” and “Wet and Wild Waterpark,” BGC Boone also offers weeklong specialty camps. Starting July 10, “Caring Hands Camp” will combine fun with hands-on community service projects for ages 9 to 13.
Looking forward, Richards and the board will strategize on issues such as how to bridge transportation barriers for kids in Western Boone schools, how to draw in more teens, how to best fit in the current space, and how and when to expand.
“There is a lot of growth in our county,” Richards says. “Across our three units, we are serving about 3,000 young people a year. We want to get to 4,000 by 2025.”
A grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. has provided Indiana Boys & Girls Club locations with financial support to provide access and opportunities for more kids and teens. In addition, BGC Boone has a $60,000 fundraising goal for 2023 to fully fund programs and offer scholarships for those who can’t afford it.
The upcoming 2023 “Tee It Up Fore the Kids” golf outing, set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on August 4 at Ulen Country Club in Lebanon, will help meet that goal.
To register for the golf event, summer camp or fall programs, visit bgcboone.org. For more information about donations and sponsorships, call 317-873-6670.