Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco

Case Study

Nearly 40 percent of children in the U.S. live in low-income families

The first Club was established in 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut

Each year, Boys & Girls Clubs serve nearly 4 million kids and teens 6-18 from all communities and walks of life

Boys & Girls Clubs of America offers a host of tested, proven and nationally recognized programs in core program areas that closely align with the developmental needs of all young people:

• Career Development
• Character & Leadership
• Sports & Recreation
• The Arts
• Health and Wellness
• Education

Founded in 1891 on Harrison Street in SOMA, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco has 128 years of experience in youth development.


These youth are at a higher risk of making less income than their peers, dropping out of high school, and even become homeless. With these risks in mind, organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America work to help provide youth with safe, after school experiences that allow them to be engaged and have fun, while building the skills they need to be successful academically and in the workforce. In San Francisco, the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco “inspire and enable all young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.”

Virtual Reality for High-Risk Youth

To help in their vision of inspiring and enabling youth, the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco hosted NewPath VR which provided an 8-week VR Youth Program, in partnership with Tech in the Tenderloin (TNT). During the program, participants experienced a theme within virtual reality, such as art, music, travel, and games. In each session, kids first met with Kelsey Rhoades, Middle School Services Director for the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco” for a 2D exercise, and then worked with Lisa Padilla, CEO of NewPathVR, on a 3D exercise in VR. Each week kids were challenged to perform an exercise and then share their artistic creations with other participants.

“VR helps people jumpstart their imagination, and by doing so set off a chain of intellectual reactions that open them up to experiencing something fully, engaging, relaxing, falling into a story, or learning something new.”

Over the course of the eight weeks, the team of instructors, which included Lisa Padilla from NewPathVR, Harold Love, Patricia Zamora, Michael Vuong, and Jacob Babick from the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco, and Julia Beabout and June Sargent from Tech in the TenderLoin, got to know each of the participants well and witnessed as they grew and provided each other mutual support. The team was amazed as they watched a student finishing their art, and another student from a different friend circle would ask to see the work they created.  Throughout the program they observed the kids express themselves and grow alongside the technology, exploring its seemingly limitless possibilities. At the end of the 8-week program, each participant received a certificate of completion. The innovative program gave the kids a way to re-envision the world around them and explore a new way of expressing themselves artistically, expanding their view of what is possible in the future.