Strengthening families is a cornerstone strategy to reducing youth violence and making communities safer. Adolescents are less likely to engage in risky behavior when their parents are involved in their lives.  Research shows that emotional health improves, substance abuse drops, and academic achievement and attendance increase when children have engaged parents.  

Our work with parenting programs quickly showed us that while evidence-informed programs were plentiful, programs focusing on parents of at-risk youth were not.  Most parenting strategies focus on middle-to-upper class parents and assume certain levels of wealth, education, and status.  Few curricula address the specific needs of parents living in communities of color with little education or wealth.

Luckily, we connected with Northwestern University professor Dr. Jelani Mandara, whose research focuses exclusively on families in communities affected by poverty and violence.  Dr. Mandara is also the creator of a parenting model based on his research – B-PROUD (Black Parenting with Respect, Order, Understanding, and Discipline).  The B-PROUD program uses parenting practices that fully incorporate research findings about pre-adolescent and adolescents in their families, schools and communities, with an emphasis on culture.  The program aims to shape a set of parenting skills that will contribute to their childrens’ long-term success in school, in relationships and in achieving life goals.

BPROUD manual

We partnered with Dr. Mandara to provide technical assistance for our parent leadership grantees.  Last summer, he trained staff from Chicago Youth Centers, Family Focus, and Youth Guidance in the B-PROUD model. Staff learned how to lead workshops focusing on effective parenting strategies.  Workshops covered topics including discouraging risky behavior and encouraging positive ethnic self-concepts and identities, appreciation and respect and for heritage, self-regulation, academic discipline, and healthy decision-making.

Dr. Mandara also adjusted his curriculum to make it more culturally sensitive and inclusive.  While most Get IN Chicago programs work in predominantly African-American communities, many neighborhoods also include a number of Latino families.  And as we know, families come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.  At Chicago Youth Centers, we met a black mother fostering Hispanic children.  She explained that she loved the B-PROUD class for giving her new tools to help her children connect to and take pride in their background.


Dushunda Henderson leads a B-PROUD parent leadership class at Chicago Youth Centers

B-PROUD programs started for parents in Austin, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, and South Shore this summer. Facilitators are already seeing positive results.  Staff are especially excited about the program content and its basis in research – they appreciate being able to tell parents in their programs that these lessons have been proven to work. Clemmie Carthans, Senior Family Engagement Manager at Youth Guidance, summarized why his staff and participants have been so receptive to B-PROUD:

In October, our Board of Directors awarded expansions of the B-PROUD program to Family Focus and Youth Guidance for an additional year (*Chicago Youth Centers is eligible to be renewed early next year.)  They also awarded a renewal grant to Metropolitan Family Services, whose parenting program follows a separate, evidence-informed model: Parenting Fundamentals.  These newly approved grants will help our organizations reach 480 additional parents.

We believe that parenting programs designed to enrich family relationships and improve youths’ social and emotional capacities are key to building stronger, safer communities overall. We look forward to work with our parenting programs and learning more about how to make an impact for families!