Connecting Native Boys and Young Men with Culture Improves Outcomes

A recent report from First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) confirmed what many staff in Native Clubs already know: efforts that foster stronger linkages between Native American boys and young men and their cultures and communities can help to significantly improve their social and educational outcomes. The report, “Advancing Positive Paths for Native American Boys & Young Men: A Project Evaluation” supports the idea that Native boys and young men have better outcomes in life when they retain connection to their Native cultures and traditions and have positive role models. The report shared findings from several foundation-funded projects in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The report also found that institutionalized policies still prevent Native students from learning in environments that incorporate their Native heritage and that the discontinuity between home and school culture is a contributing factor for educational disengagement and increased dropout rates.

To read the full report, create a free account at the First Nations Knowledge Center.


BGCA Great Think for Indian Country

Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Great Think series is designed to facilitate innovative public-private collaborations that ensure great futures for America’s youth. On Tuesday, July 12, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) hosted over 100 experts from government agencies, corporate entities, leading researchers and non-government organizations to address the unique challenges faced by youth in Indian Country. Participants were asked to identify collaborative solutions that can create positive change in Native communities so that youth can attain the necessary resources to achieve a great future.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell spoke at the event and shared her encouragement and hope for the Native youth in attendance by saying, “Resilience isn’t just how strong you are, or how smart you are on your own. We go farther together. When we have each other, we have hope. So take a moment to look at this room – your fellow youth leaders, and all of the adults who are so eager to help you succeed. We all have each other. And we have so much hope – in you.”

As a result of the heartfelt dialogues and the active participation of Native youth during this meeting, BGCA will develop a white paper identifying the key themes, insightful recommendations, and innovative solutions that arose from the panel presentations, round table discussions and group exercises.

BGCA and the Native Services Unit is privileged and honored to benefit from the participation of so many dedicated people, and we thank the Great Think attendees for their time and commitment to help drive solutions to serve the youth in Indian Country. We look forward to continued collaboration with you to support Native youth.

For additional information about the event, please visit


Supporting Great Futures During Summer Programs

Evenings, weekends, and summer days are often associated with a reprieve from the rigors of the classroom, however, time out of school should not mean time away from learning. In fact, these times are optimal for promoting academic enrichment and exploring new skills in your Club! Boys & Girls Clubs of America encourages local Clubs and communities to rethink what builds success and to continue to promote academic achievement outside of school hours. A combination of time spent in school and at the Club builds great futures for Club kids everywhere!

The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) has conducted eye-opening research about academic retention during summer. Previous findings show that kids involved in summer programming prevent learning loss of up to two months’ worth of reading and math skills. According to NSLA, participation in summer programs as well as after school activities can reverse negative trends that youth face regarding gaps in achievement, employment, and college and career success. As a result of these findings, out of school time programs have caught the attention of national organizations and agencies as youth development professionals and stakeholders strive to close the achievement gap while also allowing kids to be kids.

Learning opportunities this summer, and after school this fall, are invaluable to community youth. As a Club leader or staff member, you are a major contributor to this effort! In the busyness that is summer programming, take a moment to reflect on the success you are helping the Club kids reach by being a part of the Movement.

Do you want to know more about how out of school time programs benefit youth and how to enhance your programs? Check out these Websites to find fact sheets, tool kits, summer learning celebration events, and professional development webinars.


Volunteer as a Family This Summer

If your Club is looking for meaningful ways to engage with families this summer, consider providing some organized community service opportunities at your Club or the surrounding community. Working on a community service project is an exciting way for Club members and families to spend valuable time together. There are so many opportunities available to help in your community and make a difference! For example, you and your Club families can pick up trash at a park/playground, donate books to the local school library, assist neighbors with chores around their home, or visit a local senior center. Visit to read about more volunteering ideas and special service events across the country. Teaching the value of service can help to raise healthy and confident youth. Enjoy a summer of making an impact!


Taking the Positive Road to Youth Development

Taking the Positive Road to Youth Development

In our Clubs, we work diligently to build confidence in our youth so that they are able to recognize the potential within themselves and overcome adversities. We want them to be strong, competent, individuals who are well-equipped to cope with challenges.

As we dive into summer programming, we can reflect on how we are approaching our Club kids and the programs we plan to implement. Are we focused on the negatives or positives as we plan our fun, filled summer? Have plans started with “our group doesn’t have the skill/ time/ focus to do this activity, so we will have to do a different program” or “our Club kids are really great at creative thinking, so we will do a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) program to incorporate creative problem-solving, math, and science”?

The difference between these two questions is that the first focuses on the challenges and limitations, while the second is a strengths-based inquiry. This is an important distinction of perspective as we kick off a month of exploring a strength-based approach and promoting resiliency.