BOOST: Building Opportunities in Out-of-School Time
Our founders believed that education was the key to success, and that hard work combined with access to the right opportunities opened doors for people to become leaders in their communities. Our BOOST initiative is an extension of this donor intent and seeks to build opportunities in out-of-school time hours for older disadvantaged youth in Baltimore.
In short, we believe that kids need committed and caring adults to help them navigate life, and that out-of-school time programs are a great avenue to help build those relationships and help them realize their full potential.
We know that out-of-school-time activities help cultivate the skills, connections, and knowledge that prepare youth for lifelong success. But we also know that an increasing number of low-income students are on the sidelines, and that older youth in particular (those in middle and high school) often face the most complex barriers to participation.
Our BOOST initiative focuses on reaching these older youth. Our goal is to engage and retain them in comprehensive out-of-school time programs that promote enduring life skills. Recognizing there are many ways to do this, our strategy is all about relationships.
In our research and conversations with field experts, we learned a growing body of evidence suggests that a consistent relationship with a caring adult is the single most important ingredient to increasing the likelihood that a young person will flourish and become a productive adult. We realize the positive outcomes are especially pronounced for at-risk youth as well as older youth who are being asked to make many high-stakes decisions about their own life.
Through our BOOST initiative, we’d like to see organizations demonstrate significant depth, duration, and reach of informal and formal mentoring relationships between older youth and caring adults. With those measures, research says in the long-term these youth will experience improved educational outcomes and labor market success, improved decision-making capabilities, and beneficial effects on a number of other well-being variables – all of which point to our founders’ deep-seated value of education, opportunity, and hard work.
BOOST is a 5-year, $1 million initiative. Participation is by invitation only. To read more about the Foundation’s journey to develop the BOOST initiative, click here.
We look forward to sharing what we learn from this initiative over time. Here is a snapshot of some of our key learnings to date:
- You Can't Be What You Can't See: A conversation with Sadiq Ali, Director of Maryland MENTOR