Launched in Chicago in 2001, Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man (B.A.M.) school-based social emotional support program helps at-risk young men in middle and high school navigate the difficult circumstances that threaten their futures. The foundation of B.A.M.’s model is the creation of a safe space in which boys are free to explore the challenges in their lives. By teaching young people to “think about their thinking,” B.A.M. participants develop a future orientation, and the skills necessary to resolve conflicts, express themselves positively, practice integrity in their daily interactions, and set ambitious goals for their futures. B.A.M. “circles” are one hour clinically-based group sessions that meet as a 12-15 student cohort once per week over a two year period and work through a curriculum that incorporates aspects of cognitive behavioral therapy, youth development and mentoring.
Two randomized controlled trials conducted by the University of Chicago showed that B.A.M. reduced violent crime arrests by 50% and improved graduation rates by 19% for the students in the program. Now in its 15th year, the BAM program is serving 4,080 youth in 60+ schools in Chicago in the 2016-17 academic year.