Bamboo Shield

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Aboriginal/Indigenous; Families; Newcomers, immigrants and/or refugees; Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)

Topic: Academic issues; Alcohol and/or drug use; Antisocial/deviant behaviours; Social/economic disadvantage

Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting; School-based

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

Bamboo Shield is focused on positive youth development. The project was introduced to stem the tide of a growing number of Aboriginal and newcomer youth sliding into substance use and criminal activity, influenced by multiple stressors.

Bamboo Shield is a partnership between the community-based Centre for Race and Culture (CRC) and three junior high schools where CRC coordinators deliver an adaptation of the internationally acclaimed Lions Quest curriculum, Skills for Adolescence. Working with an identified group of students in each school, the curriculum is designed to promote essential life skills, personal and social responsibility, parents as primary educators and the involvement of other caring adults to provide support through mentorship.  The program is supported by mentors, coordinators incorporated into the school, and extracurricular cognitive, social, and physical activities.


The main goals of the Bamboo Shield program are to:

  • Enhance and improve social and personal skill development;
  • Increase levels of engagement in school activities;
  • Put into practice new social and communication skills in home, school, and community settings; and
  • Prevent youth from further sliding into substance use and criminal activity.


The appropriate clientele for the Bamboo Shield program is ‘at risk’ and ‘high risk’ immigrant, refugee, and Aboriginal youth and their families. In the program supported by the National Crime Prevention Center (2009-2013), the clientele was Aboriginal and refugee/immigrant youth between the ages of 13 and 17 who had the following characteristics: criminal records; poor academic achievement; unstable families; and lived in areas characterized by high levels of criminal activity. The program also involved the families of participants.

Youth are identified for participation in Bamboo Shield by the schools based on assessment of risk factors such as known drug and alcohol use; involvement in the criminal justice system; behaviour challenges; and family break-down or truancy issues. Child and Family Service workers are also involved with schools to identify participants. Once referrals are made, the Bamboo Shield team meets with school representatives, police and court officials to review and make the final participant selection.

Core Components

The Bamboo Shield program is held during the school year and can begin when youth are in grade 7. Bamboo Shield continues through grades 8 and 9 with the curriculum in the eight areas becoming more advanced and age appropriate over the years. The program consists of:

  • A structured curriculum, which covers eight core program areas; and
  • Family events and community events, which are scheduled and planned on an ongoing basis. Participants meet four times during the summer months and close attention is paid by the staff to follow up with the youth.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: The bicultural layer and the significance of language barriers must be acknowledged by program implementers. The capacity to successfully integrate an external program such as Bamboo Shield is shaped by its connection to school curriculum and the tone set by the administration.
  • Partnerships: Many community partners are involved in the Bamboo Shield program and some of the key organizations include the school district and schools, the police, and various Aboriginal organizations.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy provided funding to implement the Bamboo Shield program in four junior high schools in Edmonton (Alberta) between 2009 and 2013. The Bamboo Shield program was implemented by the Centre for Race and Culture (CRC).

In 2014, the CRC partnered with the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton (SCCSE) to deliver the Bamboo Shield program to Somali Canadian youth that have grown up in challenging circumstances. Funding was provided by the City of Edmonton Emerging Communities Partnership Grant and the Alberta Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation study Footnote1 of Bamboo Shield was completed by Goldblatt. The evaluator used a largely qualitative approach, such as key informant interviews, and participant observation, to evaluate Bamboo Shield.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • During interviews, participants suggested improvements in relationships with peers, teachers, and family: they learned to be more social and interact with people, and the importance of working in teams and they learned the importance of respect.
  • During interviews, participants suggested improvements in their sense of identity in relation to their culture: they learned to feel more comfortable, proud, and good about their country, and that sharing culture is a good thing.
  • During interviews, participants suggested that there was increased levels of engagement in school activities: they felt more engaged and more confident at school and they applied new social and communication skills in their home, community and school settings.

Cost Information

A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on the Bamboo Shield program. The findings from this study have shown the following:

  • The opportunities to interact with mentors and guest speakers in school and on field trips meant students were able to apply new skills and knowledge, like demonstrating mutual respect, empathy, problem solving, decision making, and public speaking. They also applied these skills in the home, sharing messages about healthy living with their siblings;
  • Bamboo Shield strengthened linkages between schools, community agencies, and community members, providing a vehicle for information to be exchanged about supports for families between these sectors; and
  • The SROI ratio demonstrates a three-year breakdown of the amount saved per stakeholder for every dollar invested in the program. The Bamboo Shield program, created a cost savings of $1.42 (CAD) per every dollar invested (on average over three years).

For more information, refer to the Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations’ (2015) publication.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Bamboo Shield. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta.  Available from:  

Goldblatt, A. (2013). Bamboo Shield Evaluation Report. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to the National Crime Prevention Centre, Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report). 

National Crime Prevention Centre. (2013). Bamboo Shield. Crime Prevention in Action. Ottawa, ON: Public Safety Canada. Available from:  

For more information on this program, contact:

Centre for Race and Culture (CRC)
9538 – 107 Avenue North West (McCauley School)
Edmonton, Alberta T5H 0T7
Telephone: (780) 425-4644

Record Entry Date - 2018-02-20
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
  1. 1

    A process evaluation study of the program was also conducted through Public Safety Canada’s funding. For more information, communicate with the Research Division, Public Safety Canada.

Date modified: