Eric Higgs is in a great position of power. As CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee, this Chicago native with roots in Jackson, Tennessee is using his position to make a difference in the lives of the youth in Middle Tennessee.
“I felt a strong call to this position. I lived my 26-year corporate career always seeking to find a way to ‘do good business and good community’ at the same time,” explained Higgs. “I’ve always volunteered in civic organizations and led many youth-oriented mentor programs. This job seemed like a wonderful opportunity to be in the center with my purpose every day.”
Higgs credits his own experiences with similar youth mentoring programs in the Chicago area with having a profound impact on his upbringing and wants to provide the same support to today’s youth.
“I didn’t grow up a club kid, but I grew up with programs like this in the Chicago Parks District, on the south side. My mom was a single parent and without these types of support programs and mentors, I don’t believe I would have had the same outcomes in life. It’s important that we reach and inspire young people early and often,” said Higgs.
Higgs recognizes that while schools provide a foundation for students to learn and grow, many students need additional support to flourish. And with that in mind, Higgs has a plan.
“Our mission is ‘to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens.’ Today, 80% of the youth we serve are moderate to low income. We are focused on ensuring that 100% of them are ready for a great future. Ready for a great future means ready to read, ready for class, ready to graduate, ready for a career, and ready to serve in the community.” He continued, “we have recently launched some new focus areas to increase our digital education. We launched a new digital club call Club Next. It offers 3 things, reading support, math support, and access to an education enrichment platform called MYFUTURE. Additionally, this summer we are launching Code Academy, which are 1-week coding camps for our youth utilizing Apple iPads.”
The MYFUTURE platform is a part of what Higgs is calling DUB100BY2026. His five-year plan is to double the amount of youth served to 10,000 while having them 100% ready for their future by 2026. Higgs is determined and ready to make a difference in Middle Tennessee and hopefully, with his determination and hard work, this plan will see its way through. After all, this is more than just a job for Higgs. This is personal.