Laureus USA and the Allstate Foundation released the results of a comprehensive study conducted by Hello Insight, which shows that youth sports programs play a significant role in fostering critical social and emotional learning (SEL) skills necessary to succeed in school, careers, and life. These sport-based youth development (SBYD) programs have a particularly strong impact on young men of color and youth in under resourced communities.

The study, Sports-based Youth Development: Hitting a Home Run in Social and Emotional Learning Outcomes, conducted by noted youth development researcher Dr. Kim Sabo Flores, Ph.D., CEO of Hello Insight, surveyed more than 60 SBYD programs and nearly 10,000 young people nationwide using the survey and reporting tool Hello Insight: Sports. The study found that substantially more young people in SBYD programs develop SEL skills than those attending non-sports programs.

Among the key findings:

  • 5% more boys in SBYD programs develop SEL compared to boys in non-sports programs. While this number may seem small, it is statistically significant, meaning that no matter how many boys surveyed, the difference would remain consistent. To put this number in context, about sixty million young people participate in afterschool programs. If all were to engage in SBYD programs instead of traditional afterschool programs, approximately three-million more young people would develop SEL skills.
  • More girls in SBYD programs succeed in growing Social Skills than did their peers in non-sports programs.
  • Young men of color in SBYD programs do not have significantly different scores from their white peers, showing that ethnicity does not impact SEL growth in SBYD programs.
  • Young people in SBYD programs experience significantly more of the research-based positive youth development practices that help drive remarkable SEL growth. However, the methods that work for boys and girls differ.
  • For boys, the PYD experience that drives the most SEL growth is when a coach supports them to try new things — broaden their horizons, set and manage goals that are important to them, and build upon their passions.
  • For girls, the PYD experiences that promote the most SEL growth are when a coach spends time building relationships with them and ensuring that their voices and opinions matter. In other words, they share power.

“It is great to see the findings of Hello Insight reinforce our work, from investing in the rigorous measurement of SEL outcomes to addressing the framework gaps that limit access to SBYD programs for historically under-resourced or vulnerable youth. We hope these findings will encourage other funders to invest in SBYD given the impact these programs have on the lives of youth.”

-Edwin Moses, Olympic Gold Medalist and Chairman of Laureus USA

We hope these findings provide Hello Insight members with further affirmation that their SBYD practices are not only critical, but highly effective.

Hello Insight is proud and grateful for the support and partnership of Laureus USA and The Allstate Foundation in producing this report, along with their advocacy for the field of SBYD as a whole. As our community of HI Sports members grows, we are committed to lifting up collective insight so that we can all continuously develop and learn together.

Download the Report

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