Youth Guidance

Youth Guidance

Youth Guidance offers an array of school-based programs that enable disadvantaged youth in Chicago to succeed in school and in life. Its innovative program, Becoming a Man, helps young males in the city’s most distressed public schools develop social and cognitive skills that reduce anti-social behavior, dropping out of school, and gang violence.

Becoming a Man (B.A.M.) is a social and emotional learning (SEL) program offered in school, in some cases complemented by afterschool sports, to at-risk male students in grades 7-12. The program currently consists of 30 voluntary one-hour small-group sessions (15 youth, maximum), conducted once a week during the school day over the course of the school year. Each session is built around a lesson designed to develop a specific skill through stories, role-playing and group exercises, and includes a homework assignment to practice and apply that skill.


EMCF has committed $19.8 million to Youth Guidance since 2013. In that year it received an EMCF Social Innovation Fund award of up to $2.75 million over three years to expand and evaluate its Becoming a Man Program, and became a True North Fund grantee. In 2017, EMCF approved a four year, $16 million investment to support Youth Guidance's implementation of its FY17-FY20 business plan and transition to its next plan.

These investments helped Youth Guidance:

  • Grow its Becoming a Man (B.A.M.) program from serving 1,000 youth in 2010 to over 8,000 in 2021, and grow its Working on Womanhood (W.O.W.) program from a new idea to serving over 2,000 youth in 2021;
  • Expand from working throughout Chicago to programming in seven major US cities and London, UK;  
  • Conduct a randomized controlled of B.A.M. showing that the program reduced violent crime arrests by 50 percent, reduced total arrests by 35 percent, and improved school engagement for male Chicago Public Schools students; and
  • Conduct an evaluation of W.O.W. showing that students’ levels of depression and aggression decreased during W.O.W. program participation. 

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