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J Early Adolesc. 2000 May 1;20(2):210-230.

Inner-City Youth Development Organizations: Strengthening Programs for Adolescent Girls.

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  • 1Northwestern University.


The challenges of early adolescence are intensified for girls of color who live in disadvantaged urban communities. One response to the needs of these girls comes from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), a youth development organization that has a long-standing presence in inner-city neighborhoods. A gender equity initiative designed to strengthen programming for minority girls at a BGCA affiliate in a major urban center was examined. Drawing on initial qualitative findings, a conceptual framework is presented for understanding the ways in which the clubs can affect urban early adolescent girls' self-esteem. Several strategic choices confronting this initiative then are considered. The authors emphasize the creation of a "home place" that enables the development of self via organizational responsiveness to girls' voices, strong bonds between girls and staff, adaptive peer friendship cliques, and the development of programs that fuse the interests of girls and adult staff.

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