Character Development among Youth of Color from Low-SES Backgrounds: An Examination of Boy Scouts of America’s ScoutReach Program


  • Kaitlyn A. Ferris Tufts University
  • Rachel M. Hershberg University of Washington
  • Shaobing Su Tufts University
  • Jun Wang Tufts University
  • Richard M. Lerner Tufts University



This study examined character attributes associated with participation in ScoutReach, Boy Scouts of America’s recent program innovation created to deliver Scouting curriculum to underserved populations. Participants were predominantly Black/African American (72.9%; N = 266, Mage = 10.54, SD = 1.58) and resided in low-income urban communities. Youth completed surveys assessing how much they embody different character attributes (e.g., kindness, helpfulness, hopeful future expectations), and a subset of youth (n = 22) also participated in semi-structured interviews examining character-shaping experiences within the program. Results replicated an eight-factor character structure established with youth involved in traditional Scouting programs, and indicated that involvement in ScoutReach may positively contribute to the development in youth of prosocial behaviors, future career goals, tolerance beliefs, and the manifestation of character attributes across Scouting and non-Scouting contexts. Together, these findings have implications for measuring character constructs among youth of color from low-SES backgrounds, and for the conduct of youth-serving character development programs more generally.  

Author Biography

Kaitlyn A. Ferris, Tufts University

Tufts University


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