Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 2019 Native Summit: People, Passion, Purpose
FEBRUARY 28, 2020
BY: ABRAHM NEUSER & MORGAN ZEPP, NMRC TEAM
OJJDP Grantee Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) is the nation’s largest service provider for Native youth serving over 110,000 Native youth in over 200 Native Clubs and representing 114 Tribal communities. BCGA recently held their bi-annual Native Summit from November 5-7, 2019 in Orlando, FL. The anticipated event centered on the themes that define the impact of Native Clubs across the country; People, Passion, Purpose. The event, hosted by BGCA Native Services, offered hundreds of youth-serving professionals with the opportunity to gather and share their expertise implementing culturally relevant programming, mentoring, best practices and more.
A critical element of success for Native Boys & Girls Clubs is mentoring programming and its proven ability to uplift and support Native youth by matching them with adults who genuinely care about their futures. The Native Summit provided breakout sessions for participants to more deeply explore the topic of mentoring, particularly in terms of identifying current best practices and securing additional funding to reach more Native youth.
BGCA is a proud recipient of an FY19 Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Mentoring Grant administered through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Perry Cooper, Vice President of Federal Grants at BGCA, hosted a breakout session at the Native Summit about Club staff providing best practices and compliance requirements to operate quality mentoring programs at their Clubs. This session also provided a crucial look at how Club members can receive federal funding to support their mentoring programs. Without the essential funding provided by organizations like OJJDP, mentoring programming would be extremely challenging for many Native Clubs, so it is vital that every Club leader is confident in how to navigate federal funding requirements to ensure program success.
One of the most crucial of these federal requirements is the need to ensure that mentoring programming is intentional and targeted. Club staff must determine which youth will benefit the most from having a mentor. Furthermore, clear documentation of mentoring program guidelines ensure that staff members can respond appropriately to potentially serious situations. Finally, Club staff must meet reporting deadlines and manage their program’s finances in order to be reimbursed by the mentoring grant and minimize programmatic obstacles.
BGCA Native Services makes it a priority to ensure that mentors who serve Native youth are culturally competent, which can involve more extensive training beyond the basic OJP Mentoring program requirements. The organization believes that it is essential for Native youth to feel connected to their cultural identities and communities and that programming should reflect this belief. To support Clubs in offering culturally relevant programming, BGCA Native Services offers Native adaptations of their curricula and programming through events like the Native Summit and Native Learning Events. These opportunities promote a “train-the-trainer” approach in order to create greater organizational sustainability. The dedication and adherence to culturally responsive programming allows for all mentors of Native youth to have the cultural competency necessary to ensure that every child is served appropriately and meaningfully. Trained Club staff members who are able to pass along their knowledge to volunteer mentors means that there is a higher level of consistency, knowledge, and cultural awareness.
This year’s breakout sessions at the 2019 Native Summit were a great opportunity for BGCA leadership to engage with Native Club staff on topics that will help them develop the strongest possible cultural programming. We look forward to seeing what BGCA Native Service’s next Native Summit in 2021 has in store for youth serving professionals!