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Boys & Girls Club — Project Learn


Intervention; Ages 11–14


(Read the criteria for this rating)

Promising delinquency program


Project Learn is a nonschool-based 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’ commitment to education and develop their scholastic abilities to improve their academic performance. The objective is to offset common problems associated with low educational achievement, including difficult behavior and limited employment opportunities. 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. This program serves both genders, aged 11–14.

The structured educational enhancement program is provided at BGC facilities or at an outside setting, depending on the activity. 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 one-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. Participating youth receive incentives for attendance, including field trips, school supplies, additional computer time, and special privileges at their BGCs. Participating youths’ parents are encouraged to join certain activities, particularly homework completion and reading sessions.

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 had significantly higher grades than both the comparison and control groups in the following areas: reading, spelling, history, science, and social studies.

Risk Factors

Antisocial/delinquent beliefs
Conduct disorders (authority conflict/rebellious/stubborn/disruptive/antisocial)
Early and persistent noncompliant behavior
Early onset of aggression/violence
Few social ties (involved in social activities, popularity)
General delinquency involvement
High alcohol/drug use
Lack of guilt and empathy
Low perceived likelihood of being caught
Makes excuses for delinquent behavior (neutralization)
Physical violence/aggression
Poor refusal skills
Victimization and exposure to violence
Violent victimization
Poor parent-child relations or communication
Low academic aspirations
Low school attachment/bonding/motivation/commitment to school
Poorly organized and functioning schools/inadequate school climate/negative labeling by teachers
Availability and use of drugs in the neighborhood
Feeling unsafe in the neighborhood
Low neighborhood attachment
Neighborhood youth in trouble
Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency
Association with gang-involved peers/relatives
Peer alcohol/drug use
Peer rejection


Model Programs Guide: Promising program

Crimesolutions.gov: Promising program

National Gang Center: Promising program


Professor Steven Schinke
Columbia University School of Social Work
1255 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027
Phone: (212) 851-2276
E-mail: [email protected]


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

Date Created: April 7, 2021