Liberty LEADS Takes Its Boys Programming to The Next Level
Green Summer School, Hamburg Germany
Losing Young Men of Color
In 2003, Liberty LEADS noticed a trend that caused our agency great concern. We were losing our boys rapidly and consistently (on average, we retained 36% of teen males). We already knew this was a national trend: teenage boys of color, primarily Latino and African American, were dropping out of afterschool programs, schools, and other formal institutions at a high rate. Considering the fact that we didn’t have the same issue with our female students, it was clear that some aspects our programming were not matching their interests.
We focused on creating a boys’-focused program that maintained our programmatic goals and addressed the specific needs of young men. We shared our concern with the Charles Hayden Foundation and, with their generous support, developed an extensive Boys Programming component based on Adventure-Based Counseling. These activities combined social group work, outdoor education, group adventure projects, and leadership building activities.
From 7th through 12th grades, our male students engage in a five-week curriculum focused on leadership, environmental awareness and filmmaking. Students challenge themselves and grow as community. At the end of the program, students trek in New York State’s Catskills Mountains during a 6-day backpacking excursion.
Since 2003, through our Adventure-Based Counseling program, we increased our young male retention rate from 36% to 93%!
A New Adventure
Our progress has now been met with a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with American Field Service (AFS) to provide international study abroad experiences for 45 of our young males over the next three years. They’re going to Hamburg, Germany! There, they’ll participate in progressive environmental study projects for four weeks at the Green Summer School in Hamburg. Along with language study, a documentary film component, a homestay with a family, and travel to different parts of Germany, they will engage in many cultural experiences and classes.
This is an amazing experience for our students–it will increase our hours of work with students by 120 hours and allows us to increase the number of participants by more than 50% over the three-year period. Our goal is to provide a high-impact experience for the boys that will broaden their world-view and better prepare them for college.
We are grateful to the Charles Hayden Foundation, the Lily Palmer Frye Foundation, and American Field Service for their support of our work with young males.