Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,500,000)
Youth Guidance will scale its evidence-based Becoming A Man (BAM) mentoring and counseling program within school districts across five states: Los Angeles Unified School District in California, Chicago Public Schools in Illinois, Boston Public Schools in Massachusetts, Hickman Mills C-1 Schools in Missouri, and Dallas Independent School District in Texas. Funds will increase the number of youth receiving BAM services by 605 participants annually and the number of well-trained BAM Counselors by 11. BAM is a school-based mentoring and counseling program that improves the social-emotional and behavioral competencies of youth in grades 7-12. BAM targets young men of color in low-income urban neighborhoods experiencing risk factors associated with school dropout, justice system involvement, or victimization. Risk factors include poverty, exposure to violence or trauma, difficulty in regulating emotions or behaviors, and previous engagement with juvenile justice or school discipline systems. External research from our evaluation partners at the University of Chicago finds that young men who participate in BAM are more likely to develop healthy relationships, graduate high school on-time, and stay out of the justice system. BAM is delivered by highly trained youth development specialists, called BAM Counselors, who work full-time within their assigned school. Each BAM Counselor provides an engaging blend of group and individual mentoring services for 55 youth that target the development of social-emotional skills, safe behaviors, and healthy relationships. Activities include weekly group sessions, called BAM Circles, which guide cohorts of 10-12 BAM participants in forming positive adult and peer bonds and developing targeted social-emotional skills. Beyond BAM Circles, the BAM Counselor provides individual support services, enrichment opportunities for participants and their parents/caregivers, and works systemically to promote a positive school climate. Youth outcomes will include increased self-esteem, social competencies, and social-emotional well-being; higher school engagement and academic attainment; and increased utilization of safe and healthy behaviors. Youth Guidance will develop and implement design enhancements to the BAM Training Academy (BTA) that is responsible for protecting quality and fidelity to the program’s evidence-based model. Through the BTA, BAM Replication Specialists provide tailored training and coaching to BAM Counselors. Enhancements will include the development of training ‘courses’ for counselors and integration of the courses and counselor learning plans into a web-based learning management system. The BTA will also develop a Train-the-Trainer Model to ensure that BAM Replication Specialists are providing training, coaching, and conceptual feedback as designed to promote high-impact BAM programming at scale.