Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $28,000,000)
Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) is uniquely positioned to drive positive outcomes for young people in diverse communities throughout the country. Mentoring at Boys & Girls Clubs (MBGC) is a multi-component mentoring program that will leverage BGCA’s nationwide Club network to connect at-risk youth with caring mentors, positive youth development, skill-building programs, and prevention strategies designed to reduce substance abuse and bullying. The target population is youth ages 6-17 experiencing risk factors in low-income communities in all 50 states. This population includes AI/AN youth living both on and off reservations, opioid-impacted youth, victimized youth, and youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Risk factors include poverty, low-performing schools, and community violence. All targeted youth face individual and/or environmental risk factors that put them at risk for opioid abuse. American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth experience especially high levels of risk. Youth who experience one or more risk factors are more likely to become involved in delinquency, substance abuse, and other problem behaviors. Project goals are to promote positive outcomes and reduce negative outcomes for five target groups: youth at risk; AI/AN youth; military-connected youth; youth at risk for participation in gangs; and youth in juvenile detention. Project objectives include providing each youth with a mentor and engaging them in at least two skill-building prevention programs, including one evidence-based prevention program. Project activities include: small group, one-on-one, and peer mentoring, delivered in the youth development environment of a Boys & Girls Club; curriculum-based prevention activities; substance abuse prevention strategies; bullying prevention; and intensive mentoring and case management for youth at risk of gang participation and detained youth. Program enhancements include the development of mentor training materials related to trauma informed practices, and training for mentees and parents related to safe participation in virtual mentoring. Mentors and mentees will be matched based on mutual interests and individual mentee needs and risk factors. Group matching events for law enforcement mentoring will be implemented, enabling officers, youth and family members to meet and interact to inform matches. Mentees and mentors will each commit to meet for 1-2 hours a week for a minimum of one year. Anticipated youth outcomes include increases in social competence, school attendance, GPA, and positive family relationships; decreases in anti-social behavior and substance abuse (including opioid use); and increased resistance to involvement in gangs and delinquency. Progress will be measured using tracking reports, staff observations, and pre/post surveys.