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Boys and Girls Club Gang Prevention Through Targeted Outreach

Ages 6-18

Rating: Level 3


The overall philosophy of the program is to give at-risk youths ages 6 to 18 what they seek through gang membership (supportive adults, challenging activities, and a place to belong) in an alternative, socially positive format. There are four components of the initiatives as stated by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA): 1) community mobilization of resources to combat the community gang problem; 2) recruitment of 50 youths at risk of gang involvement (prevention) or 35 youths already involved in gangs (intervention) through outreach and referrals; 3) promoting positive developmental experiences for these youths by developing interest-based programs that also address the youths’ specific needs through programming and mainstreaming of youths into the Clubs; and 4) providing individualized case management across four areas (law enforcement/juvenile justice, school, family, and Club) to target youths to decrease gang-related behaviors and contact with the juvenile justice system and to increase the likelihood that they will attend school and improve academically.


The evaluation included 21 Boys and Girls Clubs that used the prevention approach and 3 Clubs that used the intervention approach. BGCA selected the sites through a competitive process in summer 1997. All of the prevention Clubs began using Gang Prevention Through Targeted Outreach (GPTTO) either simultaneous with the start of the evaluation or 1 year beforehand. The intervention Clubs developed their projects between 1 and 3 years before the start of the evaluation. The study included 932 prevention youths and 104 intervention youths who were recruited to each Club/project over about a 10-month period. The target youth survey subsample consisted of 236 prevention and 66 intervention youths. Given the complexity of the Gang Intervention Through Targeted Outreach and GPTTO models, the evaluation used multiple methods for gathering information, including a review of case management records, questionnaires, and interviews and focus groups with program youths and Club directors.


The evaluation concluded that more frequent GPTTO Club attendance is associated with the following positive outcomes: 1) delayed onset of one gang behavior (less likely to start wearing gang colors); 2) less contact with the juvenile justice system (less likely to be sent away by the court); 3) fewer delinquent behaviors (less likely to steal and less likely to start smoking pot); 4) improved school outcomes (higher grades and greater valuing of doing well in school); and 5) more positive social relationships and productive use of out-of-school time (engaging in more positive afterschool activities and increased levels of positive peer and family relationships).

Risk Factors


  • Anti-social behavior and alienation/Delinquent beliefs/General delinquency involvement/Drug dealing
  • Favorable attitudes toward drug use/Early onset of AOD use/Alcohol and/or drug use
  • Life stressors
  • Poor refusal skills


  • Family history of the problem behavior/Parent criminality
  • Sibling antisocial behavior


  • Dropping out of school
  • School suspensions
  • Truancy/Frequent absences


  • Community crime/High crime neighborhood
  • Economic deprivation/Poverty/Residence in a disadvantaged neighborhood
  • Neighborhood youth in trouble
  • Social and physical disorder/Disorganized neighborhood


  • Association with delinquent and/or aggressive peers
  • Gang involvement/Gang membership
  • Peer alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drug use

Protective Factors


  • Healthy / Conventional beliefs and clear standards
  • Perception of social support from adults and peers
  • Positive / Resilient temperament
  • Positive expectations / Optimism for the future
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • Involvement with positive peer group activities


Arbreton, Amy J.A., and Wendy S. McClanahan. 2002. Targeted Outreach: Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s Approach to Gang Prevention and Intervention. Philadelphia, Pa.: Public/Private Ventures.


Marie Gordon
Boys and Girls Club of America
1275 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30309-3506
Phone: (404) 487-5700
Fax: (404) 487-5789
Web site: