Youth Guidance's Becoming a Man Program Reduces Violent Crime, Supports School Success

By: Youth Guidance
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Chicago - Illinois - US


CHICAGO - June 27, 2016 - PRLog -- School-based nonprofit Youth Guidance and researchers from the University of Chicago Crime Lab today released new findings from a randomized controlled trial evaluating the impact of Youth Guidance's Becoming a Man (BAM) during the 2013-15 academic years. The researchers found that BAM reduced violent crime arrests by 50 percent, reduced total arrests by 35 percent, and improved school engagement for male Chicago Public Schools students.

In a long-term follow-up to the Crime Lab's first study of BAM during the 2009-10 academic year, the researchers found that BAM increased on-time high school graduation rates by 19 percent.

BAM is a school-based group counseling program that helps young men learn and utilize social cognitive skills, such as slowing down their thinking, considering the perspective of others and identifying and evaluating consequences before acting. The program model integrates cognitive behavioral therapy, youth engagement and rites of passage work. BAM's foundation is six core values: integrity, accountability, self-determination, positive anger expression, respect for women and visionary goal setting.

"We meet youth where they are-physically within schools and emotionally with nurturing adult relationships-to help youth form positive social identities that greatly improve their chances of school and life success," said Michelle Adler Morrison, Chief Executive Officer of Youth Guidance. "The Crime Lab study reinforces what we as practitioners deeply believe: adolescence is a time of incredible openness-and high school is not too late to intervene in the lives of youth and have a profoundly positive impact."

The Crime Lab estimates that BAM's benefits far outweigh the program costs, with up to $30 in societal gains for every $1 invested in the program, from realized reductions in crime alone. Crime Lab researchers believe the economic returns of BAM may ultimately be even higher because people with a high school diploma often have higher earning potential than those who drop out.

The results were announced today at the Obama Administration's 5th National Summit on Preventing Youth Violence in Baltimore and will be included in a forthcoming paper in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, which is edited by researchers at Harvard University.

"When launching the My Brother's Keeper initiative, President Obama was proud to have students from the BAM program standing behind him not only because he was moved by their triumphs, but because BAM is a powerful example of an intervention with meaningful, rigorous evidence of impact," said Broderick Johnson, Assistant to the President, Cabinet Secretary and Chair of the My Brother's Keeper Task Force. "We applaud Youth Guidance and BAM on today's announcement of even more significant results for its participants, and are excited to see a growing movement of youth-development organizations dedicated to studying their models and ensuring they work for our kids."

The randomized controlled trial design of the Crime Lab studies enables researchers to draw causal conclusions about the effects of BAM, and so attribute changes in youth outcomes to participation in BAM. Researchers randomly assigned 2,064 male 9th and 10th graders to BAM study groups in nine Chicago public high schools during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years. Youth randomly assigned to the control group received any other available school and community services and supports.

"At a time when Chicago and other cities across the country are seeing increases in violence, this evidence is particularly encouraging," said Northwestern University Professor Jonathan Guryan, one of the study's principal authors and Co-Director of the UChicago Education Lab. "Programs like BAM are showing us that it is not too late to help teens in Chicago's most disadvantaged neighborhoods avoid violence and find success in school."

Today, BAM is serving 2,751 young men in 50 Chicago schools. Major support for growth and capacity-building has been received from the Chicago Public Schools, Get IN Chicago, the Social Innovation Fund and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation over the last few years. BAM aims to reach 3,200 youth in Chicago in the coming school year, but currently needs to raise $1 million in additional funding this summer to support that expansion effort.

"Today's results confirm what we already know about the remarkable effects of the Becoming A Man program, and also affirm that an investment in our children's futures is the most important investment we can make in Chicago's future," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "As we work to make our communities safer and our children's futures brighter, programs like BAM are essential to giving our youth who need help the most access to mentors so they can learn good values and change the direction of their lives. By doing so, we will keep more children safer and help our next generation succeed."

Youth Guidance's unique work and the evidence of its impact have drawn the attention of civic leaders across the country facing a shortage of evidence-based programs to address youth violence. In response to this interest, Youth Guidance plans to pilot expansion of BAM outside of Chicago in the Fall of 2017.

About Youth Guidance:
Youth Guidance creates and implements school-based programs that enable at-risk children to overcome obstacles, focus on their education and, ultimately, succeed in school and in life. Founded in 1924, Youth Guidance is a leading provider of outcomes-driven programs and capacity-building initiatives, directly serving approximately 8,000 youth in 80 schools this year. More than 95% are African American and Hispanic/Latino. Youth Guidance focuses services on Chicago's most disadvantaged areas-primarily the south and west sides of the city-where the challenges of community violence, unemployment and academic failure for youth are paramount.  For more info, visit

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