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Boys and Girls Club Mentoring Program 1

Running Head: BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB MENTORING PROGRAM

Boys and Girls Club Mentoring Program

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Boys and Girls Club Mentoring Program

Introduction

Boys & Girls Clubs are a way of inspiring the youth, a way of encouraging them to

complete their homework, to participate in sports or other recreational activities, to partake in

an art competition or any other such healthy activity that will have a positive effect on a kid’s

upbringing and development.

Today think tanks in U.S. are worried about the problems like increasing drop-out

rates at high school level and below par fitness level and obesity in the youth. Boys & Girls

Clubs are meant to provide solutions of these nationwide problems by helping the kids in

their homework, by giving them tips about a balanced diet, organizing sports and recreational

activities and testing scholastic programs. On the national level these Clubs are reaching out

themselves and are imparting positive supervision along with offering exciting opportunities.

Boys and Girls Clubs begin in 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut as an effort to help the

homeless and less privileged boys of the community. In 1906, in Boston, several similar Boys

Clubs combined to form The Federated Boys Clubs with 53 member organizations. In 1931,

it was renamed as Boys Clubs of America. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, In 1956,

Boys Clubs of America received a U.S. Congressional Charter. In 1990, it was once again

renamed as Boys & Girls Clubs of America, to indicate gender equality.

The organizational mission statement defines the organizational objectives in the

following words:

“To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full

potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

The organization’s spirit can be summarized in four points, critically important in

having positive impact on the life of a child:
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1. Youth Facility designed only for youth activities and programs.

2. The Club will remain open whenever kids have free time and/or they need

productive yet positive outlets.

3. Each Club has fully trained youth mentoring and development professionals.

4. Clubs are easily accessible (geographically as well as financially) to all the kids

without any discrimination whatsoever.

Currently, these Clubs are serving approximately 4.8 million boys and girls, through

its 4,300 Club locations and 50,000 trained professional staff in all the 50 states of U.S. along

with the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and on U.S. military bases around the globe.

Description of Mentoring Activities and Services

The institution offers several programs that cater to a broad spectrum of youth coming

from different social contexts. National programs are especially effective and cover issues

ranging from education and arts to alcohol/drug prevention and pregnancy issues. The

following programs provide guidance on these and youth related issues and each is discussed

in detail:

 Character & Leadership

The major program funded by Taco Bell foundation is the Keystone project

which elects officers from the age group of 14-18 and these groups implement

community programs. Similarly, the Youth of the Year program, sponsored by the

Reader’s Digest foundation is designed to identify youngsters that support

community, excel in academics and contribute to family life. These youths are

awarded scholarships and the National Winner is recognized by the US President. The
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Torch club (sponsored by Staples) shares similar activities to the Keystone program

but is designed for the age group of 11-13 years.

 Education & Career

The Career Launch program funded by the GAP foundation targets the 13-18

age group. It tries to instill those skills that help the youth to identify career paths and

the necessary skills and finances required. The Club service program (in collaboration

with Americorps) attempts to reward those club members and alumni that have shown

extra ordinary performances and provide for their higher education. Another program

with respect to higher education is the “Goals for Education” which empowers youth

ages 8-15 to set education related goals and design action plans to compare progress.

The “Money matters” program, sponsored by the Charles Schwab Foundation teaches

teenagers’ financial management and independence. The Junior staff programs,

funded by AT&T assists club members to identify roles in human services as

professionals and especially the Boys and Girls foundation.

 Health & Life Skills

Funded by Krafts Food and the Coca Cola company, this program attempts to

instill healthy and nutritious lifestyle habits among youth aged 6-15. The “Net

smartz,” funded by the US Department of Justice attempts to provide Internet skills to

children and parents like. The ethical, cautious and safe uses of Internet are the

primary concerns. The “Smart Moves” program addresses two basic concerns in the

form of substance abuse and sexual involvement in youth. Role playing and

discussion activities involving children, instructors and parents are utilized.

 The Arts
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The Digital Arts Suite and Festivals program attempts to teach members 6-18

ages how to design computer generated art and progress through three instructional

levels. The best pieces of art are displayed in the annual Digital Arts Festival. The

“ImageMakers National Photography program” instills the youth with the passion for

this pastime and supports them by providing adequate support and access to national

and international Photography contests. A similar venture in the form of the “National

Fine Arts Exhibit” encourages creativity in several fields including color, oil

drawings, paintings, collage and sculpture besides other piece of Art.

 Sports, Fitness & Recreation

This program aims to provide children with good eating habits and a healthy

lifestyle. It tries to inculcate a physical and emotional play schedule in the minds of

club members. These activities enable club members to develop positive relationships

and good attitudes. The “Major League Baseball S.T.A.R award,” funded by Major

League Baseball provides children possessing special skills with impressive rewards

and patronizes these skills. The skills are: Sportsmanship, Team Spirit, Achievement

and Responsibility in fitness, sports and other recreational activities.

 Specialized Initiatives

Microsoft and Best Buy Children’s foundation have joined hands to provide

computer literacy through the “Club Tech” program. They provide the latest computer

equipment, thereby enabling the foundation to develop computer learning programs

that empower the youth with the requisite skills. The “Youth for Unity” program joins

diverse youths under one umbrella and empowers them to fight prejudices, hate and

bigotry to provide a better tomorrow for themselves. The “Rookie league,” funded by

Major League Baseball Charities provides a transitory sport between t-ball and fast
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ball. It teaches the basics of baseball in an engaging manner and instills confidence

and skills in participating club members. Such programs are also an effective method

of grooming club members and providing them a stage to showcase their talents.

Critical Analysis of Mentoring Activities and Services

The success stories of adolescents who have overcome adversity often include

descriptions of at least one influential, supportive relationship with a non-parent adult or

mentor.

Families, schools, and communities have changed in ways that have dramatically

reduced the availability of caring adults. The social fabric is stretched particularly thin in

urban centers where the disengagement and departure of the middle-class from cities has

reduced the number of adults who traditionally serve as leaders, role models, and agents of

social control. In this atmosphere the need and importance of mentoring services is felt more

than ever.

In this part we will try to critically analyze the mentoring activities and services

offered by the Club and will also try to check whether these practices are consistent with

mentoring theory and research or not. A detailed program-wise analysis of the services

offered by the Club is provided as under:

 Character & Leadership

One can identify four ecological hazards in the lives of youth at risk:

destructive relationships, climates of futility, learned irresponsibility, and loss

of purpose. Unfortunately, most interventions have focused on "fixing" at-risk

children, while ignoring the ecological factors that contribute to their risk

status.
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 Education & Career

Mentoring has been a particular focus of public attention over the past

decade. But it should be kept in mind that often, mentoring cannot make up for

years of accumulated failure of the educational system and scars from other

failures of family, community, and the economy. Mentoring alone is not a

magic wand. An array of other policies is essential. Even when placed in

proper context, mentoring programs need adequate support in order to be

helpful.

 Health & Life Skills

Successful mentoring relationships need less emotional attachment

than the parent or peer relationships, instead takes on a role-modeling

function. Non-parental adults are often seen as ego ideals by the adolescents

who gather useful pieces of information about potential careers and learn and

develop specific skills. The relational aspects like mutual engagement,

authenticity and empowerment, are more important than the structural

elements of the relationship. The qualities and fondness of both the mentor

and the protégé influence the nature, functions, and benefits of the

relationship.

 The Arts

Mentorship follow a specific developmental trajectory consisting of

several phases: an initiation phase, a phase of mutual admiration in which the

mentor and mentee both work to impress one another, and several phases in

which the nature of the relationship changes as the mentor and mentee begin

to clarify their relationship with one another.
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 Sports, Fitness & Recreation

The success of mentoring relationships is inextricably linked to the

interaction style of the participants. Adult was able to understand the youth's

difficulties in initially trusting the mentor and the importance of providing an

opportunity for the youth to disclose personal information in an interpersonal

environment that was supportive and respected the youth's family, social class,

and culture. Vulnerable youth sometimes possess social skills deficits that

pose special challenges to adult mentors.

Mentors’ basic function is resources-providing, encouragement, guidance and

emotional support. Their presence is essential for the development of the youth as they fulfill

important roles that lie between those of parents and peers.

Mentors should not be held to the same standards for providing emotional support as

parents. Moreover, in their meta-analysis, DuBois and colleagues found that volunteer

mentoring programs were only modestly associated with improved emotional and behavioral

functioning, academic achievement, and interest in career development, especially among

high-risk youth.

Some adolescents grow up in communities plagued by poverty and crime, in families

experiencing some amount of abuse or mental illness, or in schools characterized by

overcrowding and violence. These environmental stressors may interact with socio-emotional

or behavioral problems or learning disabilities.

Success depends on creating a climate in which the adult is able to establish a trusting,

respectful relationship while also responding to the individual needs of the mentee. These

findings support the notion that in order for mentorship to be effective agents of change, they

must have the qualities of any meaningful interpersonal relationship. Superficial pairings that
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do not achieve the types of interactions described above seem unlikely to be of much value.

Opportunities for Enhancement

The Boys and Girls mentoring program is one of the largest mentoring programs in

the world and its outreach program also seems highly successful. However, despite the array

of impressive programs discussed in part (b), the overall effectiveness of these programs can

only be gauged through national statistics related to the state of teenagers. While considering

these facts, the overall position does not seem to be very fascinating and requires urgent

attention.

Substance abuse and sexual intercourse has gained prevalence among youths and has

spawned a broad spectrum of problems. Adult supervision is the best check on these

activities, but current trends like single moms and working parents have intensified this

problem. The generation gap has also created distance between elders and teenagers with the

teenagers feeling misunderstood.

I propose the following action plan that addresses the weaknesses of the Boys and

Girls Mentoring program:

1. All the activities of the Boys and Girls foundation should be associated and

linked with the schooling system. This action is also required because

individual attention towards troubled children is always a problem and the

teachers of these students can be included in the different programs. This

process requires significant effort, but it will eventually lead to a more

secure for the youth and lead to quick identification of problem areas.

2. Incidental to the first point, all the Mentoring programs existing in the

United States should network with each other. The next step would be to

provide this networking facility to the rest of the world, starting with the
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nearest neighbor in terms of Geographical distance and demographic

characteristics i.e. Europe.

3. The Boys and Girls mentoring program should enhance its reach to the areas

where it does not have substantial presence within the United States.

4. The networking aspect will allow different programs to share experiences

and resources. Our program will stand to benefit because we will play a

leading role through our substantial presence.

5. Problem areas like substance abuse and sexual intercourse should strictly be

checked and prevented. The former problem needs to be eradicated through

strict action on gangs that supply drugs and how to combat their easy

availability. Similarly a few offending youngsters need to be adequately

punished so that others learn a strong lesson and shy from such activities.

The second problem of adolescent sexual intercourse can only be arrested

through the joint efforts of parents, teachers and course instructors. The

course instructors and teachers are in the best position to identify and

protect against such instances and the severity of the action calls for

significant measures. Some test cases limited to a few states will be able to

give a better indication of the functionality and effectiveness of this

measure.

6. Volunteer adult members should be provided free training services so that

this concept gains enhanced support and recognition within the US. These

volunteers can also be provided online services so that they can be

facilitated in the initial phase and directly contribute towards youth

development programs in the next phase.
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7. Design a library which contains youth mentoring resources and provide

services to registered members. This will provide access and reach to

individuals in the farthest reaches especially Asia.

8. Provide awareness and training programs in corporations, which drive

parents to attend these programs to support their children and provide a

family environment away from home. This will also strengthen bonds

between families and improve the social fabric of society.

Synthesis

One of the major issues, facing youth mentoring in the USA, is the quantity over

quality of programs being delivered. In other words, there is concern that the quality of youth

mentoring could decline if programs seek to have as many mentor/mentee matches as

possible (quantity) to justify funding support. I witnessed areas where programs were cutting

corners e.g. reducing the hours of training, or not doing ongoing training and effective

supervision of mentor matches, to remain sustainable and to avoid being squeezed out by

larger organizations. In one State a well-known major provider of youth mentoring told

potential mentors that if they successfully went through the screening process, they would be

matched with a mentee without having to undergo training, such was the length of the waiting

list of mentees for mentors. Given the vulnerability of most young people as they journey

through their adolescent years to adulthood, this ought to be a matter of concern for youth

mentoring advocates.

There is enough research suggesting that where quality programs follow effective

practices and are well managed, youth mentoring is one successful strategy to help young

people, particularly those from high risk environments and single parent families, to reach

their potential. I have included some interesting and perceptive results of research by two
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internationally credible USA researchers which adds fuel to the debate about the

effectiveness of youth mentoring.
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Reference

Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Retrieved December 8, 2008 from http://www.bgca.org/

DuBois, D. L. (Ed.); Karcher, M. J. (Ed.). (2005). Handbook of Youth Mentoring (The SAGE

Program on Applied Developmental Science). Sage Publications, Inc.

Rhodes, J. E.; Bogat, G. A.; Roffman, J.; Edelman, P.; Galasso, L. (2002) .Youth Mentoring

in Perspective: Introduction to the Special Issue. American Journal of Community

Psychology. Volume 30, Issue 2, p. 149+. Plenum Publishing Corporation; Gale

Group.

Vanderven, K. (2004). Adults Are Still Needed! Intergenerational and Mentoring Activities.

Reclaiming Children and Youth. Volume 13, Issue 2, p. 94+. Pro-Ed; Gale Group.