Youth Guidance: BAM & WOW

Too many young men and women of color are exposed to traumatic experiences as a result of systemic racism — community violence, grief, and loss. When students have access to guidance and tools they need to be successful in school, we secure a brighter and healthier future.

BAM and WOW, two programs of Youth Guidance, are highly engaging school-based counseling and mentoring programs that promote social-emotional and psychological well-being, strong school engagement, and increased academic attainment for students in grades 7-12. Based on a clinical foundation, their in-school, strength-based interventions support students to build their social-emotional resilience, encouraging youth to reflect on how they make decisions. BAM and WOW Circles – weekly, 50-minute group counseling sessions – engage participants in experiential activities around key “Core Values.” BAM and WOW are lifelines to healing, discovering personal strengths, and building healthy and supportive communities.

BAM and WOW were selected as Kansas City’s first investment based on their proven ability to improve outcomes for young men and women of color. External research has shown BAM reduces crime by 50%, improves youth graduate rates by 19% and, for every $1 invested in BAM, society reaps $30 in societal benefits. WOW participants experience 73% fewer PTSD symptoms and 70% fewer depression symptoms.

Youth Guidance, an organization based in Chicago, creates and implements school-based programs including BAM and WOW that enable youth to overcome obstacles, focus on their education and, ultimately, to succeed in school and in life.

I joined WOW to better myself. I joined to be a role model to my family. I never would have guessed that I would have joined a circle of friends – a sisterhood – who would make us the best we can be.”

- WOW Program Participant

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