Justin Bayless

Justin Bayless

 

By Sabrina Proffitt

As a child, healthcare leader and philanthropist Justin Bayless and his brother were weekly attendees of their local Boys & Girls Club. They participated in after-school sports, hung out with other kids their age and took advantage of the programs offered to K-12 students. Now, as an adult, Bayless has donated $500,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley to promote the programs that helped him as a young man. 

AZYouthforce is a B&G program that helps teens explore career options while connecting them with community leaders, internships and work opportunities. B&G plans to expand with Bayless’s donation, and will now offer the Bayless Entrepreneurship Program. The extension will teach teens essential business skills, promote their creativity and business ideas and help encourage them to explore becoming business owners. 

Teens will have the opportunity to work toward an academic certificate, work with local educational and business mentors, and even develop business plans which can potentially win seed money for their implementation. That means teens can work toward their career dreams while still in high school. 

Jill Johnson, senior director of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley, said she hopes Valley businesses are inspired to support the Clubs like Bayless is. 

“With us serving thousands of youth and teens, it’s important that the community and folks like Justin and other businesses invest in our young people because that’s where the change gets made,” Johnson said. “The true purpose of this partnership is to give young people a path to success, create equity for teens and give them a chance, regardless of their family’s socioeconomic status.”

Bayless, who has a passion for finding solutions in the healthcare world by helping entrepreneurs and business owners achieve their conquests, has also been dedicated to philanthropic efforts. To him, representation can change the way students see the business world and their place in it. 

“I think being involved and interacting with students so they can see the art of possibility is super important,” Bayless said. “Often, they don’t see people that look like them, represent them, and are also club kids. I was a club kid, using the same resources and facilities. It’s important for exposure and representation because you might not see that in the business world, especially for minority families.”

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley offers after-school and summer programs for over 13,000 children and teens in grades K-12. They are currently accepting applications for AZYouthforce and the first round of applications for The Bayless Entrepreneurship Program. 

bgcaz.org