Concerned citizens and professionals founded the Club in 2003 to create a safe and engaging environment for Bemidji area youth. One of their goals was to provide opportunities for youth to build relationships with caring adults. They wanted to increase the odds that youth would achieve academic success, make healthy lifestyle choices and develop as engaged citizens. These are the principles of who we are.
The Club opened in a temporary space and then launched a $2 million capital campaign in 2004. The George W. Neilson Foundation contributed more than million to the campaign and the community contributed the remainder, mostly gifts from individuals and business supporters.
The Bemidji School District sold one of its gymnasium buildings to the Club for a dollar and the Club renovated the space, complete with a 13,000-square-foot addition for offices and classrooms. The current 22,000-square-foot facility includes a gymnasium, commercial kitchen and community room, teen center, middle school room, game areas, library and tutoring room and technology center.
In 2007, the Club surpassed 500 annual members. Then in 2009, the Club opened its Teen Center, a canteen, lounge and computer room dedicated for high school members. In 2014, an anonymous donor funded the purchase of a 12-person van, which together with services from Paul Bunyan Transit, reduces transportation barriers and provides opportunities for more youth to join the Club.