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YMCA of the USA and Boys & Girls Clubs of America Launch Project To Support Youth Mental Heath



YMCA of the USA and Boys & Girls Clubs of America Launch Project To Support Youth Mental Heath

CDC/Boys & Girls Clubs of America partnership

Initiative will advance trauma-informed care in out-of-school-time programming

CHICAGO  — YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) and Boys & Girls Clubs of America have partnered to enhance the mental health and emotional well-being of young people and the staff who serve them. With $375,000 in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Healthy Schools, the project will explore ways to strengthen trauma-informed approaches in out-of-school-time (OST) environments.

To identify and amplify best practices and innovations, Y-USA and Boys & Girls Clubs of America will focus on two key areas. First, a national coalition of multisectoral organizations will convene to pinpoint critical needs and gaps in the field, recognize strategies and explore opportunities to collaborate. Second, a speaker series will launch, with leaders and practitioners from YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs, to share experiences and resources. The speaker series will present findings to the coalition, who will then start developing a plan to improve the emotional well-being of youth and staff in OST environments.

As the nation’s two largest youth-serving organizations and providers of afterschool and summer meals, Y-USA and Boys & Girls Clubs of America have firsthand experience helping youth build resiliency, social emotional skills, and supportive relationships, all of which contribute to positive mental health.

“Youth who experience adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)—including food insecurity—face poorer health and educational outcomes,” said Elena Rocha, Senior Director of Youth Development Partnerships and Policy, Y-USA. “This is why it’s so important that the Y and other youth-serving organizations employ compassionate and dedicated afterschool and summer staff who are trained to support mental health and respond accordingly to trauma.”

The partnership comes as the Surgeon General recently highlighted the urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis. This project in the next six months will bring together national thought leaders and local practitioners to influence a path forward.

“Growing up can be hard on a young person of any generation, but today’s kids and teens are facing an ever-evolving pandemic, continued racial inequality, social pressures online and systemic inequities that create barriers to success,” said Jennifer Bateman, Senior Vice President, Youth Development at Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “In partnership with peers like Y-USA and other out-of-school-time providers, we look forward to elevating solutions and practices to support a positive future for millions of youth.”

About the Y

Driven by its founding mission, the Y has served as a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community for more than 175 years. The Y empowers everyone, no matter who they are or where they’re from, by ensuring access to resources, relationships and opportunities for all to learn, grow and thrive. By bringing together people from different backgrounds, perspectives and generations, the Y’s goal is to improve overall health and well-being, ignite youth empowerment and demonstrate the importance of connections in and across 10,000 communities nationwide. Learn more at ymca.org

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America

For 160 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA.org) has provided a safe place for kids and teens to learn and grow. Clubs offer caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Boys & Girls Clubs programming promotes academic success, good character and leadership, and healthy lifestyles. More than 4,700 Clubs serve over 4.3 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America on Facebook and Twitter