Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $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 multicomponent mentoring program that will leverage BGCA’s nationwide Club affiliate network to connect at-risk youth with caring mentors to provide positive youth development and targeted skill-building programs that address individual youth risk factors. The target population is youth ages 6–17 experiencing risk factors in low-income communities in all 50 states. This population includes American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth living both on and off reservations, youth involved in the juvenile justice system, and youth from underserved and culturally specific communities. Risk factors include poverty, low-performing schools, and community violence. 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 use, 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; and youth at risk for system involvement or already system involved, including detained youth. Additional youth from underserved populations will be served under the proposed Innovation in Locally Responsive Mentoring initiative. Project objectives include providing each youth with a mentor and engaging them in at least two evidence-based or evidence-informed skill-building programs. Project activities include small group, one-on-one, and peer mentoring, delivered in the youth development environment of a Boys & Girls Club, and a variety of programs building skills in three areas: healthy decision making/risk avoidance, academics, and social-emotional. Mentors and mentees will be matched based on mutual interests and individual mentee needs and risk factors. Mentees and mentors will meet for 1–2 hours a week for a minimum of 1 year. Program curricula include racial equity elements and adaptations for Native youth. Youth and family partnerships are a core program strategy. Program enhancements include an online mentor training featuring Club best practices; a resource guide featuring antibullying strategies; training webinars focused on integrating mentoring into new program areas and strategies for increasing family partnerships for system-involved youth; and community listening sessions at MBGC Clubs serving marginalized populations. Anticipated youth outcomes include increases in social competence, school attendance, GPA, and positive family relationships; decreases in antisocial behavior and substance abuse; and increased resistance to involvement in delinquency. Progress will be measured using tracking reports, staff observations, and pre/post surveys.