Through a partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), the Bureau of Justice Assistance sponsored 22 demonstration projects in public housing to raise educational achievement; improve access to medical services; and establish new clubs offering extensive social, educational, and medical services.
Researchers reviewed 15 of the projects by examining youth case management records; observing BGCA activities; and interviewing club directors, project directors, project staff, program participants, parents of program participants, law enforcement personnel, school representatives, community members, and representatives from agencies and organizations participating in the projects. The most promising project approaches actively sought out partnerships with a broad range of public and private agencies, employed an experienced coordinator, enlisted existing community resources, and built trust among residents. Five projects focused on educational enhancement and used a high yield approach in which children were given extensive opportunities outside the school setting to practice reading, writing, verbal communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. Five new projects were designed to offer a broad but intensive mix of services to establish a positive and stable community resource. The success or failure of these new clubs was linked directly to their ability to network in the community and to coordinate their activities with existing community-based service providers, including other Weed and Seed efforts. Although all projects achieved some level of success in meeting their goals, suggestions for those with lower levels of achievement focused on long-term programming, needs assessment, staff training, activity coordination, the use of incentives in educational enhancements, the need to obtain resident trust, and the importance of avoiding overly aggressive law enforcement practices.