Laying the Foundation for a Great Future
At 10 years old, Fred Roggin was old enough to remember the images of the looting and deliberately-set fires that happened in Detroit in the summer of 1967. By the end of one of the nation’s most violent riots, there were 43 people dead, thousands arrested and more than 1,000 buildings destroyed – among them, his father’s pharmacy.
With his mother then-recently diagnosed with arthritis, Fred’s family decided to move to a city with a warmer climate – Phoenix.
The family settled in, but peace was not yet to be had. One morning at home about three years later, Fred’s mom called to him in a panic. His father was lying in bed and having a heart attack. He died.
"I had been involved with sports at school, but at this time I needed a place to go to grow. The Boys Club – as it was then known – was relatively close to the house, so I went," he said. "It became the go-to spot for me every single day."
From the library to the game room to the gym, the swimming pool and the wood-working room, there wasn’t an inch of the Club Fred didn’t explore. "The Club was so valuable in my life. And everyone knew me there." Known today as the Harry & Sandy Rosenzweig Branch of the Boys & Girls Club, it was also where Fred got his first job, at 14, helping to keep the Club clean. Later, he worked at the front desk, the gym, and coached different sports teams.
The Club’s central role in his life crystallized for Fred when he was a high school senior – he was selected as the Arizona Boys Club Boy of the Year.
"I needed the Club," Fred reflects today. "It helped lay the foundation for who I became and how I approached life and my work ethic and focus, and how I deal with people."
Today, Fred is known as the "dean of L.A. sports," a moniker he earned, along with 30 local Emmy awards, after more than 30 years as a sports reporter and anchor.
"Today we live in a world where our senses are stimulated 24 hours a day, where a 5-year-old can operate an iPhone better than I can," Fred said. For him, that means it is as important as ever for Boys & Girls Clubs to evolve with the times – including by providing access to technology.
"Technology is the dominant force in everyone’s life now," he said. "It’s the most important investment in kids’ futures."
WHAT IS MY.FUTURE?
Comcast NBCUniversal is committing tens of millions of dollars in cash and in-kind contributions to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America and local Clubs across the nation over the next five years. The highlight of this new partnership is a technology initiative called My.Future.
My.Future is a technology education program geared toward opening the eyes of young people to what’s possible for them to achieve through technology – from recording and editing their own music and videos, to learning robotics, coding, and game design skills that can put them on the path to successful 21st century careers.
The program is designed to empower children to build, explore and communicate through technology topics that are of most interest to them. By selecting from more than 40 activities that reinforce digital literacy, My.Future participants can create their own portfolios and earn digital badges for completing different components of the program.
To celebrate the launch of this technology program, Comcast NBCUniversal in November renovated four Boys & Girls Clubs, located in Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, with state-of-the-art technology that reflects today’s mobile environment, including computers, tablets, smartboards, digital cameras, music studio tools, and video-editing technology. In addition to providing this new technology to each of these Clubs, the Comcast Foundation also provided on-site renovations, including new paint, furniture, and structural repairs.
Comcast NBCUniversal is a longtime supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs, and has provided more than $90 million in cash and in-kind services to Clubs since 2009 alone. There are 4,100 Clubs throughout the country and the world, which together support nearly 4 million children annually. My.Future is part of Boys & Girls Clubs’ Great Futures Campaign, launched in July to call attention to the crisis facing kids and elevate the role of out-of-school time in reversing negative trends and empowering more youth toward success through enriching after-school and summer programs.