The Boys Initiative is a groundbreaking national campaign to shed light on documented trends in recent years pertaining to the deterioration in the achievement of boys and young men. This problem is evidenced by the decline in reading and writing scores, motivation and engagement, social adaptation and college attendance, and the increase in failure and drop-out rates, biological and developmental disabilities, socio-emotional difficulties, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders such as ADD and ADHD, risky behaviors and bullying.
These trends first became evident in the educational setting, but it is becoming clear that it is not an isolated academic problem, but part of a more disturbing social trend. Besides the boys themselves, this trend negatively impacts families, spouses and communities in significant ways.
Numerous theories and approaches for addressing the problem have been advanced. To date, however, no organization has stepped forward to facilitate information sharing on this increasingly important issue.
The mission of The Boys Initiative is to shed light on the trends described above, provide information on the causes, manifestations and potential solutions to them, foster dialogue about them, and to collaborate on solutions with those who are committed to the futures of boys.
Our goal is to accomplish this mission through outreach, partnering and coalition building with affected communities, scholars, the media, policymakers, organizations that represent the interests of girls and women, boys and men, parents and teachers and adolescent health care providers, among a host of other individuals, organizations and professionals devoted to the well being of our nation's youth, and by providing the means for communication and collaboration between and among these groups and the individuals within them.
To reach this goal, the Initiative will serve as a central source of information on both the causes of the overall problem and potential solutions to it; that is, serve as a "hub" for all who are affected by and have an interest in this important subject. The Initiative does not develop or advocate for any particular solution, but rather, facilitates dialogue on potential solutions.
Attracted significant media coverage and follow-up to the May 17 briefing;
Engaged in outreach to a diverse range of organizations, government entities and individuals such as health and education related organizations and federal health and education agencies and officials; and
Incorporated as a District of Columbia nonprofit organization and submitted application to the IRS for tax-exempt status as an IRS Section 501(c)(3) organization. (The Boys Initiative is currently operating as a project of Family Reunion, an IRS Section 501(c)(3) organization.)
In the past year The Boys Initiative has evolved from concept to operational reality. To capitalize on recent successes and to sustain momentum the Initiative will focus on a number of specific action items during 2011. These activities constitute The Boys Initiative’s Strategic Plan for the remainder of the year. What follows is a description of those activities and plans for making them, and the organization, self-sustaining beyond 2011.
The Boys Initiative supports a number of strategies to help improve the lives and futures of boys, including:
More research regarding boys' developmental needs and learning styles;
Early intervention as a means to develop literacy skills and a positive attitude about school;
Mentoring and greater parental and community involvement;
More flexibility for educators in trying different techniques to reach boys;
Better efforts to meet the mental health needs of boys;
Educating policy makers about the need for specialized programs to boost boys' educational outcomes; and
Creating a culture of support for boys.
The Boys Initiative’s audiences include parents, teachers, counselors, academics, health care providers, policymakers and the general public. In addition to serving as a hub for information exchange among and between these various individuals and groups, the Initiative is dedicated to forging dialogue and collaboration on issues pertaining to both boys and girls.
If we are to successfully address these problems, their importance must be communicated to society as a whole and to stakeholders and organizations that can contribute to solutions. The Initiative's broad outreach is a cornerstone of this effort.
Among other things, the Initiative has already developed a focused data base of organizations, agencies, corporations and the media that have, or could have, an interest in the future of boys. The Initiative launched its outreach effort with its May 17 Washington DC briefing The State of Boys in America, and has continued its outreach with monthly updates to this audience. The Initiative is also reaching out to legislators and policymakers and beginning to identify champions for boys issues. Finally, the Initiative is developing an expert and speakers program, which will place speakers in various forums to provide visibility to the issue and the ways the Initiative is addressing it.
In addition to compiling information on boys, the Initiative offers a variety of resources. These include an online library of popular media and scholarly articles, an online data bank of experts, a daily blog, tools for parents and others such as “how to” materials, and the architecture and resources for a national network of parents, teachers and others who are addressing the issue at the local level.
Strategic Plan Components, Objectives and Activities 2011 - 2012
Component One: Outreach
Objective: To identify and engage individuals, organizations and entities whose missions or activities relate to the issues The Boys Initiatives.
Activity 1: Continue to meet with key stakeholders* who have become engaged with The Boys Initiative through its outreach efforts and events such as the May 17 briefing. *Congressional and Executive staff, foundations, nonprofit organizations, corporations, media
Activity 2: Communicate frequently via e-mail with these groups and individuals about The Boys Initiative events or projects that might be of interest. Develop ways of engaging same through interactive methods (eg, surveys, social and other media,Twitter, Facebook, etc).
Activity 3: Continue follow-up with media that became engaged with The Boys Initiative as a result of the May 17 briefing. Arrange for interviews with experts, speakers.
Activity 4: Develop incentives for media engagement(eg, access to experts) as well as internal structures to ensure rapid and meaningful response to inquiries.
Activity 5: Continue outreach to policymakers that was initiated as a part of planning for the May 17 briefing.
Activity 6: Identify and contact potential funders and partnering organizations that could provide in-kind support.
Component 2: Services and Resources
Objective: To further develop services initiated to date, including the provision of resources, and to expand the services The Boys Initiative provides to stakeholders.
Activity 1: Continue to expand National Affinity Network in the following ways: a) increase number and geographic diversity of participants; b) develop resources for participants; c) facilitate ongoing interaction among participants; and d) publicize the activities of the network.
Activity 2: Continue to build a) online libraries of scholarly articles and popular media on relevant subjects; b) expert data bank; c) media expert bank; d) online tools and resources for parents and others.
Activity 3: Develop targeted services and materials for specific constituency groups.
Activity 4: Continue to build and publicize the daily blog, which is becoming one of the foremost national resources for timely information on boys’ issues.
Activity 5: Continually update and expand website.
Component Three: Engage Allies and Experts
Objective: To further identify and engage subject matter experts, spokesperson, partners and advocates
Activity 1: Continue to expand Board of Advisors by developing incentives for participation.
Activity 2: Develop and launch national speaker’s bureau.
Activity 3: Identify and enlist potential allies that can serve as advocates and partners for The Boys Initiative’s mission and programs.
Activity 4: Identify and recruit local and national spokespersons, including celebrities.
Component Four: Initiate Special Projects
Objective: To identify, develop and launch collaborative special projects to draw attention to the issue and address it in constructive ways.
Activity 1: As part of outreach, identify and explore collaborative/partnership opportunities with allies and other organizations.
Activity 2: In conjunction with other national organizations, develop projects to sponsor a national summit on boys issues and engage leaders at the federal, state and local levels in efforts to address issues identified by the summit.
Activity 3: Sponsor events similar to the May 17 DC briefing on The State of Boys in America.
Component Five: Policy Education
Objective: To identify, monitor and publicize relevant public policy activities and debates (note: the Initiative will not engage in direct or grass roots advocacy)
Activity 1: Identify related organizations that have a strong public policy presence to serve as potential sources for information on public policy issues.
Activity 2: Identify and inform key policymakers.
Component Six: Fundraising
Objective: To raise funds sufficient to support the activities of the organization
Activity 1: Develop and adopt finance and budgeting policies, procedures and standards.
Activity 2: Develop budgets, fundraising goals and fundraising plan.
Activity 3: Identify potential funders and engage in outreach and dialogue.
Activity 4: Prepare and submit funding proposals.
Component Seven: Human and Other Resources/Management
Objective: To ensure necessary levels of human resource support, nurture high levels of satisfaction and enthusiasm, and promote professionalism
Activity 1: Develop and articulate volunteer roles (including internships)and engage in volunteer recruitment.
Activity 2: Develop incentives for volunteer participation.
Activity 3: Coordinate volunteer and advisory board participation.
Activity 4: Enlist and engage volunteers in fundraising efforts.
Activity 5: Hire, oversee and manage staff, consultants and volunteers.
Activity 6: Manage IRS application through granting of exempt status.