Boys Hope Girls Hope is launching a three-year project to catalyze growth and contribute knowledge to the youth development field on how its mission fuels character development.


Noel Schiber is the Grants and Stewardship Manager. She works to support fund development outcomes through grant and proposal writing, donor stewardship, and reporting for Network Headquarters, while also facilitating affiliate best practice sharing in these areas as well.

Funded by the John Templeton Foundation, “Accelerating Youth Character Development by Leveraging the Power of Youth Peer Groups” will energize a dynamic Network-wide collaboration focused on honing the inherent strengths of our scholars and collegians to set and achieve their own goals. 

The John Templeton Foundation is a highly esteemed international foundation focused on catalyzing discoveries that contribute to human flourishing. This new grant will support a key driver of Boys Hope Girls Hope’s strategic plan to scale impact – being able to work with larger cohorts of scholars in the same age ranges through group activities that supplement individualized, adult-guided supports to impact curiosity, purpose, and perseverance.

The Boys Hope Girls Hope Pilot Team

Five Boys Hope Girls Hope affiliatesArizona, Colorado, Guatemala, New York, and St. Louis – will work with the Network Headquarters team to plan, implement, and evaluate the pilot program. The pilot affiliates will form scholar peer groups of six-to-eight scholars in the same age range to support one another in setting goals, developing skills, sharing challenges, and celebrating accomplishments.

“We’re developing and testing a new model of engagement that harnesses the power of learning by doing with the support and accountability of positive peer relationships along the journey,” says Vice President of Mission Effectiveness Brian Hipp. “Together, we’ll look at the effect of these activities on developing the critical character virtues of curiosity, purpose, and perseverance as they refine and pursue their hopeful vision for the future.”

Renewed Collaboration on Evidence-Based Research

The project gives Boys Hope Girls Hope the opportunity to continue its collaboration with leading youth development innovators and funders. Clemson University-based researcher Ed Bowers, Ph.D., will once again lead his team of colleagues in project design, implementation, and evaluation.

Ed Bowers, Ph.D._Clemson University Researcher_John Templeton Grant

“There is an abundance of research underscoring the power of peer relationships when harnessed for positive development,” says Bowers. “Our project has the potential to take this understanding to a new level, focusing on a population underrepresented in the research.”

Cassandra Sissom, Executive Director of Boys Hope Girls Hope of St. Louis, is excited to be working with Dr. Bowers again. “He’s an amazing contributor to the field of youth development who truly understands the realities of working with young people and earning their trust,” says Sissom. “With his team on board, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Working Together to Transform Scholars

The five Boys Hope Girls Hope affiliates will receive funding, professional development, high-quality training for launching and maintaining the innovative practice model, and the chance to share best practices through travel to each other’s sites. Together with Network Headquarters and the research team, the group will spend the first year on intense planning and then roll out the model at the pilot affiliates over the next two years.  

“It’s a big commitment, but in the end, our entire Network will be stronger because our teams delivering the services will have a seat at the table in shaping and testing a system that positively transforms scholar success planning and goal setting,” Hipp says. 

Cassandra Sissom, working with St. Louis Scholars_John Templeton Grant

“Coming together to share what we’ve learned through evidence-based research is part of the Boys Hope Girls Hope DNA, and it’s funding partnerships that make this possible” says Sissom. “With the Templeton Foundation along for this journey, we have remarkable freedom to work together across groups as we build, learn, grow, and facilitate a new way of advancing our mission.”

A Vital Piece of Our Strategic Growth Plan

Boys Hope Girls Hope CEO Kristin Ostby de Barillas is thrilled by each pilot affiliate’s dedication to the project and what it will mean for the Boys Hope Girls Hope Network strategic plan to triple its reach over the next decade.  

 “The model will strengthen scholar guidance, mentoring, and coaching so that we can realize efficiency and open our doors to more scholars without sacrificing program rigor and impact,” says Ostby de Barillas. “It will enable our larger affiliates that already have experience in this direction to collaborate and share what they learn with affiliates across the Network.” 

Read more on our Strategic Plan, here.