Growth in the Year: Gwinnett Team 2023

The year 2023 has been one of the most transformative years of the Boy With a Ball Gwinnett Flagship team. From the beginning to the end, there has been important change, growth, and new vision.

In the middle of 2022, our work both locally and globally faced such significant growth, we knew we would need more people to be part of the mission of reaching and launching youth as changemakers in their cities. In January of 2023, former BWAB San Antonio leaders, Sergio and Sarah Gonzalez, moved to Georgia in order to lead BWAB's flagship organization and help in the development of Boy With a Ball USA- our regional support system for every US team. This move alone powered the work happening in Gwinnett County. Our team has expanded with leaders from diverse work fields and different backgrounds in order to powerfully engage and grow the local work. Leaders from San Antonio, Boston, and fellows from Ethiopia and Lebanon have also trained alongside our team to learn how to replicate the Love Your City model in their part of the world. 

In Love Your City we are seeing the neighborhood change positively, students are graduating out of the tutoring center, some families are moving out into better neighborhoods and new families are arriving. A boys' group and two girls' groups have been established, and our English Classes have grown beyond the Sarah Court apartments. As growth happens, our eyes are up for which area of the county could be next to begin new neighborhood walkthroughs.

Velocity has been in Gwinnett County Public Schools for five years now. At the beginning of the year, we were in two school clusters with dreams of expanding across Gwinnett. Over the course of the year, a key church partner and the business community have fought for Velocity to be launched and established into a third school cluster. This Spring, we are officially launching into Duluth! Looking ahead, the county has reached out asking for further expansion across Gwinnett. The support we have received from our community only pushes us to see how we can reach more young people in Gwinnett.

While young people and their families were being engaged in their neighborhoods and schools, a new area for development emerged: development around job and career readiness. Pipeline was born out of the dream and vision to help young people connect who they are with the world of work, assist the adults in their lives to find more meaningful work, and partner with local businesses to build a pipeline of high-impact employees. Over the past year, young people from four schools and two neighborhoods began meeting in small groups and working with an adult mentor to explore their unique identity, talents, interests, and sense of purpose. Additionally, the adults in their lives were invited to attend a job fair with eighteen businesses and participate in monthly employability small groups. At the same time, business partnerships began to emerge with three employee pipeline pilots scheduled to launch in the New Year. We are hopeful for what this means for transforming work, workplaces and their future employees for years to come.

All of this requires more growth, from every side and angle. As we go into new schools, new neighborhoods, new counties, and reach more young people and their families, we will all need a growing community of partners. We are thrilled with how we are ending 2023 and eager to enter new opportunities in the coming year.