Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $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, 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 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. Additional youth from underserved and culturally specific 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. Curricula include racial equity elements and adaptations for Native youth. Program enhancements include updates to match closure procedures related to mentees and family members, and a new mentor training pathway focused supporting youth impacted by bullying and cyberbullying. 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; and increased resistance to involvement in gangs and delinquency. Progress will be measured using tracking reports, staff observations, and pre/post surveys.