Program Areas of SJL Community Development

St. Jude League Community-Based Development projects encompass housing, sports, the arts, mentoring, and other violence-prevention programs. Nearly 20 million households in the U.S. live with severe housing-cost burdens, spending well over 50% of their income on a place to live.


Adequate housing is a basic human right, but families in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods often lack access to not just adequate, but also affordable housing. This harsh reality undermines the safety, stability, and nurturing potential of a home for these families.


Adequate and affordable housing is an essential component in maintaining healthy households, strengthening communities, establishing bonds among neighbors, creating the expectation for effective schools, and building healthy business districts. The needs in these communities are often greater than what the federal, state, and local governments are able to provide.


Sports, mentoring, and the arts play a special role in sparking new growth and healing for youth living in communities plagued by poverty and violence. Research supports the reality that young people involved in safe, structured, out-of-school activities are far less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. After-school programs with adults who genuinely and consistently mentor kids and guide their development offer positive alternatives to violence.


St. Jude League Community Development programs introduce healthy role models, involvement in positive community activities, and access to an environment that promotes constructive coping skills.


When young people have relationships with stable, healthy adults who care about them, they are more likely to make positive decisions. These caring mentoring relationships promote self-esteem and self-control in young people, and as a result, mentored youth often grow to trust other authority figures and communicate better with them.


Mentoring programs invest in local communities by fostering a sense of community pride and value in young people, especially regarding academics. By helping students take control of their lives in a productive way, mentoring cultivates a new generation of leaders who have the academic skills necessary to thrive.


Similarly, athletics and the arts play a special role in sparking new growth and healing for youth living in communities plagued by poverty and violence. Participation in athletic or creative activities outside of school, directed by responsible adults, provides young people with a safe, constructive environment in which to spend their free time and fosters a sense of peer-based nurturing and belonging that youth might otherwise seek out in less auspicious environments.


Many of the qualities that arts and sports programs foster in young people—including the ability to manage anxiety and aggression levels, accept and follow instructions, and block out distractions while working hard toward a goal—also serve a vital role in their everyday lives.


Learning the steps to a dance, performing in a musical group, or completing a mural requires long hours of practice, focus, and perseverance. Working as a team allows each member to bring his or her their own talents to the group. They are also gaining valuable life skills that can be used in other areas of their lives.


These skills are learned through demonstration, modeling, and practice and include the ability to perform under pressure, build interpersonal communication skills, solve problems, set and meet goals, appropriately respond to both success and failure, work as a member of a team, and accept and learn from positive and constructive feedback.


St. Jude League Community-Based Development programs address these needs across the United States and Canada. Youth basketball leagues, music ensembles, and housing complexes provide youth with safe, productive activities overseen by positive mentoring figures and make adequate housing both affordable and accessible to those who may not otherwise have the resources to access these things.


To learn more about St. Jude League Community-Based Development, please visit our Programs page or lend your support and have an impact on communities fighting back against poverty and violence.

Read more about SJL Community Development’s influence through Community-Based Development programs on our What’s New page.