Project Learn is a non-school 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’ interest in education and their scholastic abilities to improve their school grades. The objective is to offset the gamut of problems associated with low educational achievement, including difficult behavior and limited employment opportunities.
Target Population and Sites
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. Participating youth are typically between 10 and 14 years of age.
The educational enhancement program takes place in the BGC facilities or an outside setting, depending on the activity, and students are engaged in a structured program. The Project Learn weekly curriculum includes:
- 4 to 5 hours of discussion with knowledgeable adults
- 1 to 2 hours of creative writing
- 4 to 5 hours of leisure reading
- 5 to 6 hours of school homework completion
- 2 to 3 hours helping other youth with homework, projects, and skills acquisition
- 4 to 5 hours of games and recreation that draw on cognitive and transferable skills
Participating youth receive incentives for attendance, including field trips, school supplies, additional computer time, and special privileges at their BGC. Additionally, participating youths’ parents are encouraged to join certain activities, particularly homework completion and reading sessions.
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 1-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.
Project Learn aims to offer additional educational activities and resources, as well as enrichment activities, not otherwise available to low-income families in order to increase positive scholastic performance. The program suggests that by offering such activities, youth can overcome the educational adversities they face in many overwhelmed inner-city schools throughout the United States, and that out-of-school programs targeting at-risk youth have increased educational potential.
10 to 14
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’s average score was 86.88, compared to 78.79 for the comparison group and 75.67 for the control group. It should be noted that at baseline assessment, treatment and comparison group children already had significantly higher grades than control 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. Although there were no differences at the 30-month follow-up in English and writing, the treatment group had significantly higher grades at the 18-month follow-up. In mathematics, the treatment group had significantly higher grades than the comparison and control groups at the 18-month follow-up; however, at the 30-month follow-up, the treatment and comparison groups did not differ from each other. They did, however, have significantly higher grades than the control group. There were no significant differences in geography grades between the groups at any follow-up.
At the 30-month follow-up, the treatment group had significantly fewer days missed (2.19 days) compared to the comparison group (12.33 days) and control group (16.67 days).
There were no significant differences between the groups at any follow-up point in the frequency of behavioral incidents.
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