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Increasing Opportunities for Older Youth in After-School Programs

NCJ Number
Carla Herrera; Amy J. A. Arbreton
Date Published
January 2003
60 pages
This report examines the successes and challenges of the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club in New York and the Boys & Girls Club of Boston in attracting and retaining teen participation.
In fall 1998, the Boys & Girls Clubs in New York and Boston launched an initiative to attract harder-to-serve teens. Eight clubhouses in New York and five in Boston participated in the initiative. The goals of Boston’s initiative were to attract 50 new teens at each clubhouse for each of the 3 years of the initiative; to retain new and transitioning teens, particularly the 13-year-olds transitioning to the teen programming; and to provide all teens with developmentally appropriate activities, support, and guidance, especially in the area of academics. The goals of the New York initiative included recruiting 50 new at-risk teens at each clubhouse for each year of the initiative; integrate, involve, and retain teens; and to provide all teens with developmentally appropriate activities, support, and guidance, especially in employment-related areas. Specific strategies employed by both clubs included hiring dedicated staff for the teen initiative; increasing staff time for recruitment; creating collaborations with schools; monitoring youth’s progress; increasing the amount of time teens have access to the clubs; and developing more academic and job-related programming. Both clubs were successful in recruiting new teens: the Boston clubs attracted an average of 63 new teens the first year and 52 new teens the second year, while New York reached their goal of recruiting 50 at-risk teens for each year of the initiative. Both clubs were also successful in retaining teens and keeping them involved with the clubs: one-third of the teens attended the clubs once a week or more, while 60 percent attended once a month or more. Retention rates for teens proved comparable with, or better than, the typical retention rates in after-school programs serving younger and easier to retain youth. Staff members at both clubs were successful in providing teens with appropriate levels of adult support: 80 percent of teens reported that a caring and helpful adult staff member was available to them, while 77 percent reported that at least one adult knew how they were performing in school. Finally, the clubs were successful in keeping teens interest by offering relevant programming in academics and job-related pursuits. Challenges facing each clubhouse are enumerated. Tables, figures, endnotes, references, appendix