To examine a cluster of Knight Foundation grants for positive youth development in order to:inform youth program improvement and development, as well as future Knight grant-making decisions and investments; and facilitate shared learning for 39 grantees and Knight program directors in Akron, Ohio; Bradenton, Fla.; Columbia, S.C.; Columbus, Ga.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Macon, Ga.; Milledgeville, Ga., and Palm Beach County , Fla.
ASSESSMENT PURPOSE AND APPROACH
What challenges or setbacks have been experienced?
What lessons have been learned – successes and failures?
What factors contributed to successes?
What practices are notable or exemplary?
What is useful and should be considered by other practitioners?
Approach: The assessment analyzed documents given to Knight Foundation by grantees and interviews with program grantees.
Assessment Partner: This report was produced by Wellsys Corp.
Youth – While poor student attendance and keeping students interested in the program benefits in the long run served as challenges, grantees reported many positive changes in personal development and school related outcomes as a result of offerings. Engaging students in planning and providing a variety of program options increased likelihood of success.
Families – Engaging parents was described as especially difficult, but could be addressed by communicating expectations and getting parents involved in program events.
Grantees – Securing capable, full-time employees was a recurring factor. Similarly, presenting variable and feasible programming proved to be an obstacle. Keeping groups small and allowing youth choice were among the solutions.
Community Connections and Learning - The most successful, sustainable programs had many community partners and often offered joint services. Collaboration with schools is crucial.
To help sustain healthy communities in a democracy, we aim to increase the ability of individuals to engage in change.
As part of our grant making process, program teams work with grantees to establish indicators that will be tracked to provide feedback on project implementation and outcomes. In certain cases, we also partner with grantees to conduct in-depth third-party evaluations to understand the effectiveness and impact of specific projects.