Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $961,436)
Project Purpose: The STARS Peer Mentoring Partnership (STARSP) will ensure that 1,050 (350 per year) youth across five states are empowered through the STARS (Students Teaching About Relationships and Success) Peer mentoring curriculum with the tools, knowledge and role models to make positive choices, and learn the protective factors and skills needed to avoid involvement in bullying/cyberbullying behavior as well as a variety of other high risk behaviors that may lead to involvement in the juvenile justice system (JSS). STARS utilizes a best practice, evidence-informed approach to peer mentoring, whereby older students are trained and supported by an adult program coordinator (PC) to facilitate a structured and youth led set of curriculum sessions and activities. In turn, those youth mentors implement a cross-age, peer-mentoring model in a group setting, delivering a positive youth development program. To accomplish this, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado (BBBSC) PCs provide the outlet, skills, training, and adult supervised space needed for the youth mentors within the STARS program to facilitate mentoring to small groups of younger mentees (ratio 1:4). The STARS curriculum follows the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring outlined by National Mentor. Furthermore, BBBSC takes a holistic approach to serving youth and thereby requires that all target schools/communities (either led by BBBSC or subawardees) will receive wrap-around services through parent education, and community training events focused on cyber-bullying/bullying prevention and awareness serving parents/community members (100 per year). Target Population: BBBSC, based in Colorado, will lead a five-state partnership that includes the following sub awardees; The University of Texas at Austin, Project Males, Austin, TX SUNY Schenectady Community Colleges Liberty Partnerships Program, Schenectady, NY Detroit Cares Mentoring Movement, Detroit, MI Riverside San Bernardino County Indian Health, Riverside, CA In addition, BBBSC will lead programming to serve additional youth in the following communities: Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy, Denver, CO John F. Kennedy High School, and Northfield High School, Denver, CO Rangeview High School/Columbia Middle School, Aurora, CO BBBSC targeted these specific communities in order to reach a broad and diverse population of youth most in need of services. Each targeted area serves a unique population including Native American youth, immigrant youth, military youth/families, and youth from high poverty and/or high minority areas. Community needs will be further described in the narrative. Objectives and Proposed Activities: Objective 1: To provide best practice peer mentoring services to (840/280/yr) underserved youth as mentees. Objective 2: To screen, match, train and support 210 (70/year) youth mentors through a minimum of 91 hours of annual training, including initial training and ongoing support. After formal trainings, 100% of mentors will score 80% or better on a measure of knowledge of mentoring best practices and/or the training topic. Objective 3: Youth workshops specific to the topic of cyberbullying/bullying prevention and awareness will be offered to expand on the lessons taught directly through the STARS Program serving 960 youth (320 per year). To accomplish this, each subawardee will provide at least one youth workshop per year (30 youth/year x 4 sub awardees =120 per year x 3 years =360) and BBBSC will offer two additional youth bullying prevention workshops per year (one at Mid-Year Mentor Life Summit Training and one workshop offered at the summer Summer Leadership and Mentor Training serving (100 per event x 2 events= 200 per year x 3 years= 600). Objective 4: Promote family and community engagement on the topic of cyberbullying/bullying prevention by providing opportunities for experts in the field of bullying prevention to educate individuals through Family and Community Training events (FCT’s) to 630 parents/community members (210 per year) to further support youth in the home/community environment. To accomplish this, each sub awardee will provide at least one FCT a year (30 attendees/year x 4 sub awardees = 120 per year x 3 years =360) and BBBSC will offer two parent education events and one community event per year serving 270 parents/community members (30 at each event x 3 events= 90 per year x 3 years= 270. How Progress will be Measured: Outcomes will be measured through participant surveys conducted pre- and post-program. Some of the questionnaire items will come from already established measures used in mentoring research as well as the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to enable cross-comparisons. IRB approval is renewed annually, and parent/guardian consent and student assent will be required for any student participating in the evaluative surveys, which will be administered in English and Spanish. Statistical analysis will be conducted using the R statistical software package NLME for hierarchical linear modeling, on the program participants’ pre/post- measures to examine possible gains. Outcomes Expected: STARS is considered a dual impact curriculum where positive outcomes are expected among both the mentors and mentees. The expected outcomes of the proposed program will be measured with a variety of indicators, including: (1) At least 10% of mentees will gain knowledge of various coping skills and healthy outlets that are options for healthy decisions. (2) At least 10% of mentees will feel a sense of agency/believe they are in control of their decisions and know how to advocate for themselves. (3) At least 10% of mentees will show significant increases in peer support, seeing themselves as a member of a community. (4) At least 10% of mentees will show increases in growth mindset (believe they have the ability to grow and change). (5) 10% of mentees will demonstrate an increase in understanding of coping skills and healthy outlets that are options for healthy decisions, and an increased sense of positive peer relationships. (6) 10% of mentors will show increases in the 5 C’s of Positive Youth Development (connection, confidence, character, competence, and contribution). (7) 10% of mentors will show increases in the ability to practice leadership skills such as advocating for and recognizing the strengths of others. (8) 10% of mentors will recognize the importance of and practice skills for mental health and well-being.