In 1917, Father Edward J. Flanagan, a Roman Catholic priest and Irish immigrant, borrowed $90 from a friend to open a home for wayward boys in downtown Omaha, Nebraska. Flanagan had worked with down-and-out men who were often too lost to change. He saw that the problem needed to be addressed at the root, when the boys were still young and able to be educated and influenced.
Flanagan knew that boys, facing neglect, indifference and ignorance, had bleak futures. In their desperation, they often turned to crime. He wanted to give them a home and gave them generous amounts of love, care, patience, and understanding.
He changed the way America thought of her troubled children in the 1920s and 1930s by pioneering alternative education (instead of prison), vocational training and self-government.
Since first opening our doors in 1917, Girls and Boys Town’s mission has been to provide food, clothing, shelter, education, spiritual guidance and medical care to homeless, neglected, and abused boys. Since 1979, this same care has been extended to girls.
Today, challenged by new problems facing youth and families, our work stretches far beyond the Village of Boys Town, Nebraska. We are committed to the goal of changing the way America cares for its at-risk children.
All services are provided regardless of race, color, creed, gender, national origin, or inability to pay. Our children come to us from every state in the Union and several foreign countries. Girls and Boys Town is, and always has been, a non-sectarian home for troubled youth. Its director is a Catholic priest (to symbolize Father Flanagan), but a Board of Trustees who has various religious backgrounds runs it. Girls and Boys Town receives no funds from the Catholic Church, nor does it provide any money to the church.