Program

Feb 07, 2002

OVERVIEW

Project BELONG is a mentoring/tutoring program designed to improve school functioning and discourage substance use in at-risk middle school students. Over the course of an academic year, undergraduate students teach participants various technical, academic, and life skills. Experimental evaluations show that Project BELONG participants were more engaged in school, exhibited fewer behavioral problems, were less likely to receive failing grades in math, were less likely to commit crimes, and committed less serious offenses when crimes were committed, than those in the control group.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: At-risk middle school students

Component Provided by Duration Description
Mentoring activities Undergraduates 2 semesters 10 – 12 hours a week working with or on behalf of the youth Required a full semester of mastery-based training
Tutoring Undergraduates 2 semesters Helped with school work and time management
Instruction in life skills Undergraduates 2 semesters Discussions of behaviors skills; critical thinking skills, drug/alcohol use, etc.

Project BELONG was designed to improve school functioning and discourage substance use in at-risk middle school students. Through mentoring and tutoring from undergraduate students, participants were taught various technical, academic, and life skills (see above).

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

STUDY 1: Blakely, C. H., Menon, R., & Jones, D. J. (1995). Project BELONG: Final report. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University, Public Policy Research Institute.

Evaluated population: 385 middle school students (grades 5-8) in Bryan-College Station, TX. Students were selected from five separate middle school campuses.

Objective:
To determine the impact of the program on juvenile outcomes (youth contact with the juvenile system), classroom behavior, grades, and discipline infractions.
Measurement instrument:
Interviews were conducted at intake, at termination of the intervention, and one year after termination Information was collected from the youths teachers after termination of the mentoring program and the school district provided the youths school records at the beginning of the program and at the end of each semester Information was collected on contacts with the county juvenile department for one year prior entry, during the intervention, and for year post intervention
Evaluation:
Type: Experimental; random assignment into mentor group (n=206) and control group (n=179)
Statistical techniques: ANCOVA
Outcome:
Mentored youth were rated by their teachers as more engaged in the classroom than control group members. Mentored youth were viewed by their teachers as placing a greater value on school than the control group youth. Teachers were less likely to report behavior problems for mentored youth and school administrators were less likely to have mentored youth referred to them for a severe discipline problem. Mentored youth were less likely to receive failing grades in math, as compared to the control group. Mentored youth were less likely to commit a Class A-C Misdemeanor or felony; in general, program participant offenses were less serious than those of the control group youth.
Other information:
Project funded by the US Department of Education

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Blakely, C. H., Menon, R., & Jones, D. J. (1995). Project BELONG: Final report. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University, Public Policy Research Institute.

Program also discussed in the following Child Trends publication(s):

Jekielek, S., Cochran, S. W., & Hair, E. (2002). Employment programs and youth development: A synthesis. Washington, DC: Child Trends.

KEYWORDS: Middle School, Adolescence (12-17), School-based, Mentoring, Tutoring, Life Skills Training, Self Esteem, Behavioral Problems, Violence, Delinquency, Education, School Engagement, Academic Achievement, Educational Expectations, Substance Use, Alcohol Use, Tobacco Use, Illicit Drugs, High-Risk, White or Caucasian, Hispanic or Latino, Black or African-American, Social/Emotional Health

 

Program information last updated 2/7/02.