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Boys & Girls Club — Project Learn



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