Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $2,500,000)
Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) is uniquely positioned to drive positive outcomes for youth impacted by opioids and other drug misuse through its multi-component mentoring program, Mentoring at Boys & Girls Clubs – Opioid Prevention (OPI). This innovative program will link youth with caring mentors and skill-building prevention programs while engaging them more deeply in their communities. The target population is 400 youth ages 6-17 living in rural, urban and suburban communities located in seven counties throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has the fourth highest number of drug overdose deaths in the country. Subawards will be made to 11 Boys & Girls Club organizations (Clubs) serving impacted communities in the state. Targeted youth experience risk factors in the individual, peer, family, school, and/or community domains. Family risk factors include one or more family members who have used and/or misused opioids or other substances, including methamphetamine. Many Pennsylvania youth experience high levels of risk in these areas. Youth who experience one or more risk factors are more likely to become involved in substance abuse and other problem behaviors such as juvenile delinquency. OPI project goals are to promote positive outcomes and reduce risk factors for targeted youth while increasing family and community supports to address opioid and substance misuse. Project objectives include providing mentoring and prevention services to youth, increasing resources available to families through partnerships, and the implementation of community events, including youth-led prevention campaigns and mentor training events led by local experts. OPI project activities include group and one-on-one mentoring delivered in the youth development environment of a Boys & Girls Club, evidence-based social-emotional learning, and skill-building prevention programs targeted to individual youth needs. Teen mentees will be engaged in youth-initiated mentoring. Staff and mentors will participate in a peer learning network, sharing mentoring best practices and experiences working with opioid-impacted youth, to ensure the delivery of high-quality mentoring services. Program inputs include resources to support a .5 FTE prevention specialist position at each involved Club, as well as BGCA’s Opioid & Substance Use Prevention guide, featuring 29 evidence-informed prevention strategies that will be integrated into mentor training and mentor-mentee activities. Anticipated youth outcomes include increases in social-emotional skills and competencies, school attendance, and positive family relationships; and decreases in substance use and misuse. Progress will be measured using tracking reports, staff observations, and pre/post surveys.