Uniting the Boys & Girls Club

By Giving List Staff   |   January 2, 2021

During 2020, when so many of us were hunkering down as COVID-19 turned our lives upside down, two Santa Barbara nonprofit leaders were busy formulating the best way to serve children, youth, and families.

Quietly, in early 2020, both Boards, especially board presidents David Bolton and Tony Vallejo along with their executive committees, had a series of meetings to discuss merger details and came to an agreement. In one deft move, the pair and both Board of Directors had unified 11 Santa Barbara Boys & Girls clubs under one banner, giving all the county’s children, teens, and their families safe places to learn and grow.

Laurie Leis, who recently wrote a dissertation on nonprofit mergers, understood that the merger of the 80-plus-year-old club she ran downtown with United’s 10 others including Carpinteria, Lompoc, and Buellton satisfied both agencies’ double bottom line. 

“Let’s just look at the mission,” she says. “It’s going to be better for the kids.” And by combining administrative costs, donors know that more of their donations go straight to programs and children. 

For CEO Michael Baker, a 32-year veteran of Boys & Girls Clubs on the East and West Coast, the move was all about “breaking barriers” for the young people who rely on the clubs every day. “The reason young people get into trouble and join gangs is that they are surrounded by it in many of the communities we serve, it breeds territorialism” he says. “With clubs all over the county, we can break those barriers down and bring kids that would otherwise not meet together.” 

For the families – Santa Barbara’s essential worker workforces – the benefit is undeniable. Parents pay $40 a year for five days a week of after school care and access to the clubs on Saturdays. That is 19 cents a day, Leis says. That helps working parents stay working and ensures the children are adequately supervised. “We give those kids a chance to become who they were meant to be. That’s our motto.”  

Leis and Baker are excited about 2021. Combined they have become the model for youth serving agencies, and plan to reach 5,000 children, youth, and families. 

Both board chairs are pleased: 

Board President Tony Vallejo says: “The merger between our two great organizations has allowed us to streamline operations so that we are able to use our resources more efficiently. In the short time we have been merged we are already seeing success even in these trying times and I am confident that this will continue!”

Vice President David Bolton, and former BGCSB Board President, says: “Bringing two organizations together, especially in these times, helps to reduce combined operational costs which translates to more resources for the kids of our community. As one, all of our clubs are stronger. And, as one, our kids are truly the ones that will benefit most.”


United Boys & Girls of Santa Barbara County

Phone: (805) 681-1315
Executive Vice President of Advancement: Laurie L. Leis


The United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County believes that every kid deserves a great future, and provides the stepping stones that put every kid on the path to unlocking their potential.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

Uniting Makes Us Stronger

“Having the word ‘United’ in their name is highly appropriate and deserving of United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County! The 11 clubs located throughout the county are quick to react to issues and support solutions affecting club members and their families.
Uniting is what has always made us stronger. United Boys & Girls Clubs teaches our children that uniting behind strong character, academic success and supporting each other in these goals results in a safe and healthy community.
I am a proud alumni of our local Boys & Girls Clubs!”
– Thomas C. Parker
President, Hutton Parker Foundation

Ever More Efficient

Now truly united, the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara are bent on ensuring that every dollar given is spent directly on programs and the young people engaged in them.
To get there, they need your help, and as with their merger have a clear plan. The organization needs to build a $5 million endowment, which the annual earnings would underwrite the entire organizational administrative cost annually so that 100% of any donation made would go directly into program services.
Please reach out to Laurie Leis directly at (805) 681-1315.

Board of Directors

Tony Vallejo, President
David Bolton, Vice President
Louise Cruz, Treasurer
David Beard, Secretary
Carol Del Ciello
David Edelman
Melissa Gough
Rondi Guthrie
Mike Lopez
Chris Lueck
Dave Messner
Tino Munoz
Clay Murdy
Pete Muzinich
Jeff Omdahl
Eloy Ortega
John Petote
Javier Quezada
Rich Ridgway
Ben Scott
Angel Sugleris
Jim Turner