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Summaries of RCT Grants

A large RCT of Big Brothers Big Sisters community-based mentoring program for youth at risk of criminal involvement

Over the course of seven years, the grantee will conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s (BBBSA) community-based mentoring program for disadvantaged youth.

Grant recipient: The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

Term: 2016 - 2024

Principal Investigators: David DuBois, Ph. D., University of Illinois at Chicago
Carla Herrera, Ph. D., independent research consultant

Funding: $1,760,785

Summary: Over the course of seven years, the grantee will conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s (BBBSA) community-based mentoring program for disadvantaged youth. BBBSA is the largest mentoring organization in the United States, with over 300 affiliates serving nearly 160,000 youth annually. Many of the participating youth are at risk of criminal involvement (prior longitudinal evidence suggests approximately 40% of the program’s targeted population will be arrested at least once in adulthood). A sizable RCT of the program in the 1990s found promising effects on both youth violent behavior and substance use, but was limited by only short-term follow-up and exclusive reliance on youth self-reports to measure outcomes.

This RCT will be conducted in 20 BBBSA agencies nationwide, with a sample of approximately 2,500 youth. Crime and delinquency outcomes will be measured with official data over a follow-up period of 4 to 5.5 years (depending on the time of youth enrollment into the study). Crime/delinquency and other outcomes (e.g., school suspensions, truancy, substance use) will also be measured with parent and youth surveys over an 18-month follow-up period.

The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here.

Grants

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