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Program Profile: Boys and Girls Club – Project Learn

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on July 27, 2012

Program Summary

A non-school program that aims to improve the educational performance of economically disadvantaged adolescents through the provision of out-of-school educational enhancement and enrichment activities. The program is rated Promising. The average grades of treatment youth were significantly higher than control and comparison group youth. The treatment group had significantly fewer days missed, but there were no significant differences between the groups at any follow-up point in the frequency of

Program Description

Program Goals
Project Learn is a non-school program of the Boys & Girls Club (BGC) that aims to enhance educational performance of economically disadvantaged adolescents through the provision of out-of-school educational enrichment activities. The program strives to increase students’ interest in education and their scholastic abilities to improve their school grades. The objective is to offset the gamut of problems associated with low educational achievement, including difficult behavior and limited employment opportunities.

Target Population and Sites
The program targets economically disadvantaged young adolescents from public housing. It aims to increase effectiveness of out-of-school educational activities by targeting neighborhoods and youth who are most at risk and most in need of resources. Participating youth are typically between 10 and 14 years of age.

Program Activities
The educational enhancement program takes place in the BGC facilities or an outside setting, depending on the activity, and students are engaged in a structured program. The Project Learn weekly curriculum includes:
  • 4 to 5 hours of discussion with knowledgeable adults
  • 1 to 2 hours of creative writing
  • 4 to 5 hours of leisure reading
  • 5 to 6 hours of school homework completion
  • 2 to 3 hours helping other youth with homework, projects, and skills acquisition
  • 4 to 5 hours of games and recreation that draw on cognitive and transferable skills
Participating youth receive incentives for attendance, including field trips, school supplies, additional computer time, and special privileges at their BGC. Additionally, participating youths’ parents are encouraged to join certain activities, particularly homework completion and reading sessions.

Key Personnel
The program requires BGC staff assisted by parents and other volunteers delivering the Project Learn curriculum to be trained by BGC professionals from their national headquarters. The training is delivered in a 1-day workshop. A local BGC staff member acts as the Education Enhancement Coordinator and is assisted by other BGC staff, school representatives, parent leaders, and housing authority and resident council representatives.

Program Theory
Project Learn aims to offer additional educational activities and resources, as well as enrichment activities, not otherwise available to low-income families in order to increase positive scholastic performance. The program suggests that by offering such activities, youth can overcome the educational adversities they face in many overwhelmed inner-city schools throughout the United States, and that out-of-school programs targeting at-risk youth have increased educational potential.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
School Grades

At every follow-up, average grades of treatment youth were significantly higher than control and comparison group youth. At the 30-month follow-up the treatment group’s average score was 86.88, compared to 78.79 for the comparison group and 75.67 for the control group. It should be noted that at baseline assessment, treatment and comparison group children already had significantly higher grades than control youth.

At the 30-month follow-up, the treatment group had significantly higher grades than both the comparison and control groups in the following areas: reading, spelling, history, science, and social studies. Although there were no differences at the 30-month follow-up in English and writing, the treatment group had significantly higher grades at the 18-month follow-up. In mathematics, the treatment group had significantly higher grades than the comparison and control groups at the 18-month follow-up; however, at the 30-month follow-up, the treatment and comparison groups did not differ from each other. They did, however, have significantly higher grades than the control group. There were no significant differences in geography grades between the groups at any follow-up.


School Attendance
At the 30-month follow-up, the treatment group had significantly fewer days missed (2.19 days) compared to the comparison group (12.33 days) and control group (16.67 days).

Behavioral Incidents
There were no significant differences between the groups at any follow-up point in the frequency of behavioral incidents.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
The Schinke et al. (2000) study evaluated the effects of Project Learn on youth in public housing in New York City, N.Y., Cleveland, Ohio, Oakland, Calif., Tampa, Fla., and Edinburgh, Texas. This program was implemented by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGC) in communities they already served. For the purpose of the evaluation, a site in each city that had BGC, but not the Project Learn enhancement, was matched on demographics, youth proportion, size, and public housing service population of the Treatment sites to serve as the Comparison site. Additionally, a Control site was matched to each Treatment site using a youth facility that was not BGC and did not provide educational enhancements to their adolescent students. In total, 15 sites were used (five Treatment, five Comparison, and five Control), matched on geographic and demographic variables. Youth and parents at each site completed informed consent statements. The total number of participants at baseline was 283. At the 18-month follow-up, the number of participants had decreased to 249, and to 191 by the final 30-month follow-up. An attrition analysis showed participant drop-off did not differ significantly between intervention groups and sites.

Of the 283 youth across the 15 sites at baseline, the average age was 12.3 years. Forty percent were female. The participant group was 63 percent black, 19 percent Hispanic, 13 percent white, and 5 percent Asian or of another ethnicity. There were no significant differences in age, gender, or ethnicity between groups. Although treatment and comparison youth came from BGCs, control youth were regular users of their facilities, which included after-school, recreational, and human services programs. Treatment sites were encouraged to participate in the evaluation when chosen; comparison sites were motivated by the receipt of the program after the evaluation; and control sites received a financial incentive at each measurement.

Data from schools were collected to assess students’ performance in mathematics, English grammar, composition, reading, spelling, history, science, social studies, and geography. Schools also provided attendance records and behavioral incidents. Researchers used analysis of variance to test for differences between the treatment, comparison, and control groups.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Implementation Information

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Implementation of the program, including training, is completed through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. For more information, please contact your local Boys & Girls Club or visit their Web site.
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Other Information

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The Schinke et al. (2000) evaluation also looked at self-report surveys from students and teachers on perceived abilities and enjoyment of various scholastic activities and subjects. These results are not reported in CrimeSolutions.gov. For further information on additional outcome results, please see the study reference under the program's Evidence Base.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Schinke, Steven P., Kristin C. Cole, and Stephen R. Poulin. (2000). Enhancing the Educational Achievement of At-Risk Youth. Prevention Science 1(1):51–60.
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Targeted Truancy Interventions
These interventions are designed to increase attendance for elementary and secondary school students with chronic attendance problems. The practice is rated Effective for improving attendance.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - More than one Meta-Analysis Education - Attendance/truancy



Dropout Prevention Programs
School- or community-based programs targeting frequently absent students or students at risk of dropping out of school. These programs are aimed at increasing school engagement, school attachment, and the academic performance of students, with the main objective of increasing graduation rates. The practice is rated Effective for reducing rates of school dropouts, and rated Promising for improving test scores/grades, graduation rates, and attendance.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - More than one Meta-Analysis Education - Dropout
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Education - Academic achievement/school performance
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Education - Graduation
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Education - Attendance/truancy
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Program Snapshot

Age: 10 - 14

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): Other Community Setting

Program Type: Academic Skills Enhancement, Afterschool/Recreation, Truancy Prevention

Targeted Population: Truants/Dropouts

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide

Program Developer:
Steven Schinke
D’Elbert and Selma Keenan Professor
Columbia University School of Social Work
1255 Amsterdam Avenue
New York NY 10027
Phone: (212) 851-2276
Website
Email

Researcher:
Steven Schinke
D’Elbert and Selma Keenan Professor
Columbia University School of Social Work
1255 Amsterdam Avenue
New York NY 10027
Phone: (212) 851-2276
Website
Email