Boys & Girls Club of Mar Vista Gardens

The Boys & Girls Club of Mar Vista Gardens has only just recently opened on January 28th. To date, 264 young people from the housing community have registered as Club members (out of 600 school age residents). Other highlights from the past two months include the formation of our first sports league (Ultimate Lacrosse League), creation of a recycling program for the housing community operated by Club members, our first Family Night celebration in honor of our one month anniversary, a St. Patrick’s Day party for teen members, and upcoming Easter Celebration for the entire community. Our Club members have started creating animated cartoons and recording music in our tech room. We are extremely proud of our teen members who have started tutoring our younger members. Two of our teens also had the opportunity to go to the Keystone Conference for their demonstrated leadership and community service.


1 Submitted Idea

  • 2013 Grants Challenge

    BE GREAT Mentoring Program

    Mar Vista Gardens is the third largest public housing site in the city of Los Angeles and is located in the 5th most crime-ridden neighborhood. The average household income at Mar Vista Gardens is $1,713 per month, more than half of households live at poverty level, and 67% of adult residents do not have a high school diploma. Currently, 600 school age youth live in this community. Our idea is to provide an after-school mentoring program that ensures that all the children in the Mar Vista Gardens community have the opportunity to build successful and productive futures for themselves and their families. The BE GREAT: Graduate program is the Boys & Girls Club’s solution to the low educational attainment rates and cycle of poverty in low-income communities like Mar Vista Gardens. BE GREAT is an evidence-based dropout intervention program that targets young people who are most vulnerable to dropping out of school. The program is based on the University of Minnesota’s Check & Connect model, which is one of 27 dropout intervention programs reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education thus far. It is proven to have positive effects for keeping youth in school. The Boys & Girls Club of Mar Vista Gardens will implement the BE GREAT: Graduate model to support and encourage academic achievement for young residents, ages 6 to 18 years. The BE GREAT program has three components: 1) Mentor-Youth Relationships – Club staff and community volunteers build long-term mentoring relationships with youth by creating an environment of trust and open communication. The goal is to instill in young people the belief that “they can, they want to, and they belong.” 2) Intentional Tracking – Club staff watch for warning signs of student withdrawal from school (i.e. attendance, behavior and course failure). As mentors, they work with program participants to develop timely intervention that focuses on reducing negative factors, increasing strengths, problem solving and persistence. 3) Enhanced Club-School-Home Partnership and Communication – The Club and local schools work together to share information. The Club proactively reaches out to parents in order to engage them in their children’s education. Research conducted by Boys & Girls Clubs of America suggests that youth who attend program approximately once per week are more likely to demonstrate positive outcomes than those who attend less frequently. In order to ensure that our BE GREAT program is the most effective, we need to incorporate it into a comprehensive youth development program that provides a safe environment and fun, engaging activities. Support from the Goldhirsh Foundation and the LA2050 Challenge would allow us to create an interactive space where youth feel comfortable learning, playing, and building trusting relationships. Resources for an effective BE GREAT program include professional and committed youth development staff, a strong community volunteer program, academic enrichment activities in language arts and STEM subjects, and engaging space for learning, playing and socializing. The Boys & Girls Club of Mar Vista Gardens is still in the process of building and creating the necessary resources to realize our goal of operating a successful BE GREAT: Graduate program. Since we opened on January 28, 2013, more than 250 of the 600 school-age youth who live in the community have registered as Club members. Because membership is also open to youth from the surrounding neighborhood, we have the potential to serve hundreds more young people. The BE GREAT program would provide mentoring for all registered Club members, ensuring that they receive consistent support from caring and trusted adults. Moreover, it fulfills a critical need by addressing social and emotional problems that homework help and tutoring alone do not solve.