The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s (BGCGS) Red Mountain Branch recently received the prestigious Merit Award for Program Excellence in Health & Life Skills from Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The award was presented during Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 106th National Conference in San Diego, Calif.

Merit Awards for Program Excellence, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, are presented annually for outstanding programs developed and implemented in Boys & Girls Clubs across the country to lead youth to a great future.

The Red Mountain Branch received the award based on the Club’s programming held with the Salt River Department of Corrections.  Yes, Department of Corrections.

In 2005, the Salt River Department of Corrections in conjunction with The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale decided to buck the status quo and no longer settle for mediocrity. These two entities teamed up and put into place a rehabilitative model that not only places the emphasis on education, life skills and socialization, but also a model that allows officers to be officers, teachers to be teachers and all parties involved to do the job that they are trained and qualified to do.

According to James Short, Department of Corrections supervisor, the Salt River Department of Corrections Boys & Girls Club Program is the first full-time Boys & Girls Club site located inside a correctional facility in Indian Country. This program was created to complement and enhance the overall rehabilitation process in the juvenile corrections facility.

“The program runs in conjunction with the correctional education rotation and offers a number of health, recreation and life-skill classes that will allow the juvenile detainees to acquire the tools that are necessary for a successful transition from the institution back to the community,” Short says. “This program is not only providing the youth with solid, proven Boys & Girls Club curriculum but it is also helping with academic credit recovery.”

With the help of the Salt River Department of Education, the juveniles that participate in the Salt River Department of Corrections Boys & Girls Club programs will receive high school elective credit.

“The long-term goal of this program is to significantly decrease the community’s juvenile recidivism rate by helping these youth, once released from custody, transition into our community clubs and programs or transition to a job or post-secondary education,” says Brian Yazzie, director of Native American services at the BGCGS.

The recognition comes with a $2,000 award. Red Mountain was chosen from hundreds of submissions from the more than 4,000 branches nationwide.

“Receiving this award is a wonderful moment and milestone for our Red Mountain Branch, club staff and our wonderful community partners who work very hard making this program a success for our youth,” Yazzie says.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Native American communities working together to serve youth. Today, more than 200 Clubs are on Native American lands.

In addition to the Red Mountain, the BGCGS also have a Lehi Branch, which is on the Salt River Pima Maricopa Reservation along with Red Mountain, and the Peach Springs Branch, which is on the Hualapai Reservation.

For more information about the BGCGS, visit