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.

The afterschool sports component reinforces conflict resolution skills and the SEL objectives of the in-school curriculum.

randomized controlled trial by the University of Chicago Crime Lab showed that B.A.M. increased school engagement, reduced arrests for both violent and nonviolent crime, and had the potential to increase high school graduation rates.

The study also estimated that the social benefits of the program would be on the order of $49,000 to $119,000 per participant from increased lifetime earnings, tax payments, and lower public benefit use.

Youth Guidance (BAM)

Learn more about Youth Guidance's program, Becoming a Man and its work to help Chicago's disadvantaged youth succeed in school and in life.

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.


Marlin Connors used to be a loner, until Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man program helped him learn to trust others, plan for his future, and forge bonds with other young men as well as his father. Read Marlin's story