The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the second installment of our “Evaluating afterschool” blog series, which turns to program providers in the field to answer some of the common questions asked about program evaluation. Be sure to take a look at the first post of the series, which explores evaluation lessons from Dallas Afterschool.
This post is written by Jason Spector, senior research & evaluation manager for After-School All-Stars, a national afterschool program serving more than 70,000 low-income, at-risk students across 11 states and the District of Columbia.
I recently left a meeting thinking I’m no longer doing the job I was hired to do. But for a professional evaluator of afterschool programs, change is a good thing.
When I joined After-School All-Stars (ASAS) to launch our national evaluation department two and a half years ago, my primary goal was to measure and support ASAS’ outcomes as the organization entered into an expansion phase. While I currently maintain this responsibility, our national evaluation team is now focused on examining program quality as opposed to outcomes measurement. Why the change? Simply put, we realized our top priority was to boost our quality, because when we do, the impact and outcomes will follow.
This type of a shift is not an easy decision for a nonprofit to make. As nonprofits move toward more advanced outcomes measurements to satisfy increasingly savvy funders, leaders everywhere are faced with some critical questions:
- Should I deepen my organization’s investment in evaluation?
- What can I expect to receive in return?
These questions carry an assumption that an investment in evaluation is inherently not an investment in your organization’s mission and programs. Furthermore, many program leaders assume that evaluations must yield large positive outcomes in order to attract new funders and compensate for the “cost” of not putting dollars directly into program operations. But this logic fails to consider the many benefits evaluations afford organizations.
Here are a few benefits of program evaluations
- Define your programs: The act of identifying specific goals and mapping your program practices and strategies onto these goals serves to clarify your program model and identify potential gaps.
- Establish research and data-driven practices: Evaluation can guide you in modifying your programming to make it research-driven. Evaluation can also implement and improve data feedback systems to inform program practices.
- Identify areas for improvement: Negative findings are opportunities for growth and refinement. Reflecting on program practices and making adjustments around curriculum, pedagogy and quality can ensure your organization is living up to its mission.
More evaluations considerations
In determining whether evaluation is worth the investment, and what type of benefit you will derive from it, nonprofit leaders must first consider their organizational stage of development on several levels. The Corporation for National and Community Service and the Social Innovation Fund have done excellent work in fully laying out many questions to consider. Here’s a summary of just a few:
- Organizational considerations
- Does your leadership and Board support evaluation capacity-building?
- Does your organizational culture support data-informed decision-making, including around programs?
- Programmatic considerations
- Do you have a fully developed theory of change, with defined activities linked to expected outcomes that program staff and leadership agree upon?
- Is your programming stable and operating at sufficient scale to rigorously evaluate?
- Evaluative considerations
- Have you previously conducted process or outcomes evaluations?
- Do you have defined processes to regularly collect data?
- Do you have the capacity and willingness to work with an external evaluator?
As you examine your organization’s evaluation readiness, you may come to the conclusion that an impact evaluation does not make sense at this time. This doesn’t mean that evaluation can’t help push your organization forward. Consider the potential of evaluation to hone your model, further data-driven programs, and yes, even prompt adjustments based on negative findings!
Dax-Devlon Ross on After-School All-Stars
Dax-Devlon Ross, Regional Executive Director of the After-School All-Stars’ Northeast chapters, sat with Joanna Gagis on “A Life & Living Moment” to discuss the inspirational program.
After-School All-Stars provides a wide range of services including academic support, sports, health education, and the opportunity for youngsters to meet mentors.
“It’s a way to connect young people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to explore their passions and trigger some thoughts about the future,” Ross states.
With over 70,000 youth served, ASAS is doing just that.
Pucks flew across the gym floor during a special floor-hockey clinic last week. Over 50 Newark, NJ students joined Josh Harris – philanthropist and managing owner of the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia 76ers – State District Superintendent Chris Cerf and other school district officials, City Council members, and school and community leaders to celebrate the announcement of a three-year partnership between ASAS and the Harris Family Charitable Foundation, headed by Harris.
Many of the students had never held a hockey stick before, but Stanley Cup Champion Bruce Driver and staff from the New Jersey Devils were on hand to teach them the basics! Under Driver’s guidance, students learned how to use the stick and handle the puck, and practiced taking shots on a very special goalie: the team’s mascot, the NJ Devil. “I’d never played hockey before, but today was so much fun! I can’t wait to take my family to Devils game!” said a participating 7th grader. All the students left with tickets to an upcoming Devils game.
The clinic was a celebration of a $750,000, three-year grant that will broaden ASAS’ presence in the communities where Harris’ teams operate. Indeed, the grant’s impact is already making positive change: earlier this fall, ASAS opened programming at 13th Avenue Elementary, the site of the festivities. In 2017, ASAS will open a new program site in Philadelphia, and will explore the possibility of expanding programming into nearby Camden.
Read more… Devils owner bets $750K on kids’ futures
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Teza Sponsors After-School All-Stars STEM CampUs on August 1 – August 5
Five-day immersion program prepares at-risk eighth graders for high school and encourages their interest in science, technology, engineering and math
NEWARK, N.J. (July 20, 2016) — After-School All-Stars today announced that Teza is sponsoring its STEM CampUs program on August 1 – August 5 at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where 30 students will experience and explore careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Additionally, the program prepares the low-income, urban students for their transition into, and graduation from, high school through academic workshops, mentoring, leadership training and group activities.
“Education helped propel me from a disadvantaged background to founding and leading a global firm,” said Misha Malyshev, CEO of Teza. “Teza and I commend ASAS and its efforts to prepare at-risk students for future success through after-school programs and by helping communities across the country.”
More than 1 million students – mostly in ninth grade – drop out each year. In response, ASAS launched We Are Ready: a middle- to high-school transition program during the school year for eighth graders that are poised to enter high schools with low graduation rates.
As part of the We Are Ready initiative, ASAS developed the CampUs program in 2012 to intervene and provide support for its students that have exhibited early warning signs for dropping out of high school. Similar to past CampUs programs in Chicago, the focus this year in Newark will be on career exploration as well as the world of STEM.
During the five-day STEM CampUs, participants from New York City; Newark, N.J.; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C. will learn how to navigate the high school application and selection process; gain exposure to STEM careers through field trips and interviews with professionals; design technology-based applications; and build relationships with role model-mentors, including Teza employee volunteers.
“Teza’s generous support allows After-School All-Stars to offer one of the most innovative STEM and career readiness programs in America,” said Ben Paul, President & CEO of After-School All-Stars. “In addition to backing the program financially Misha and his team at Teza are volunteering their time to mentor our students and inspire them to pursue science and technology related careers.”
Malyshev is a member of ASAS’ national board of directors. He and Teza have sponsored the CampUs program in Chicago for three years, as well as the After-School All-Stars Program Directors’ Retreat in Washington, D.C.
Teza is a science and technology-driven global quantitative trading business. It is headquartered in Chicago with offices in New York; London; Austin, Texas; and Berkeley, Calif. Misha Malyshev has led Teza as its CEO since he founded the company in 2009. Malyshev earned his Ph.D. in astrophysics from Princeton University, as well as an M.S. in theoretical physics and a B.S. in physics and mathematics from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. For more information, visit www.teza.com
|On October 26th, 2017, one million people nationwide gathered to celebrate Lights On Afterschool – the ONLY national celebration of afterschool programs and everything they do for our students, families, and communities.|
|After-School All-Stars New York and After-School All-Stars New Jersey had multiple celebrations in honor of all that afterschool programs do to keep children safe and healthy.
In Newark, New Jersey, students at George Washington Carver celebrated the day with music, games, arts and crafts, and our first ever ASAS NJ Olympics.
One of our guests, Newark Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins, said, “I was so happy to see our children being active and interacting in organized activities like the three-legged race and obstacle courses. These activities promote critical and strategic thinking. It was a great event!”
In New York, students at Achievemet First Brownsville had their very own Climb 4 Kids event. The entire school put on their sneackers and climbed to the top of school!
Meanwhile at Dual Language Middle School in Manhattan, students hosted volunteers from News America Marketing, who attended last year’s Climb 4 Kids at 4 World Trade Center.
Marlena Bonafide, Account Associate at News America Marketing, has volunteered with ASAS for two years. When we asked Marlena about her experience, she said, “Lights On Afterschool is important so that the nation can be aware that afterschool is an option for kids of all ages. News America Marketing has had such a great time volunteering with ASAS, and I urge others who want to get involved to reach out to ASAS.”
For every child in afterschool, two are waiting to get in. We challenge you to post on your Facebook about why you believe afterschool programs are important to YOU and your community. Tag us, and we will repost on our Facebook pages! (@ASASNY@ASASNewJersey)
Last week, 60 All-Stars from Newark, New Jersey visited the Mondelez International headquarters in East Hanover, New Jersey. After entering the brightly colored atrium, the middle-school students were then welcomed by some of the leaders of Mondelēz International North America.
Students learned about the history of the global snack corporation and participated in a sensory activity with the Consumer Science team where they tasted crackers with different ingredients and flavors. They also learned about packaging and marketing products. Students then got the opportunity create a new snack. Small student groups presented their product design, product ingredients, marketing vision, and target audience to a panel of Mondelez International leaders across different departments.
All-Star Breanna said that, “the most challenging part was the process of creating my own product and getting facts and figures together to present. Once we were done, the most exciting piece was actually presenting to the panel.”
“I enjoyed presenting for the panel and creating my own product. The most difficult part was trying to contain my excitement during the presentations of the Mondelez International staff,” said All-Star Rasaan.
In the end, each team was provided an award for one of three categories, most creative, most innovative or most impactful (Environmentally Responsible). One of the winners for most the “Environmentally Responsible” snack was named the “Pullie Cookie”. This 3 layer banana split flavored cookie would be packed in recycled materials, and could be composted! A few All-Stars were seen walking through the halls of their school the next day wearing their medal, and shared their experience with friends and teachers.
The Mondelez International Foundation partners with ASAS to promote active, healthy lifestyles through health and nutrition programs, from healthy cooking and nutrition classes to fitness and urban gardening, in 12 national markets.
“Power Your Climb” is this year’s theme for Climb 4 Kids. We are are asking “What’s Your Climb?” to our All-Stars, to think about what their goal or “climb” is. We are shining our “Power Your Climb” Spotlight on Winston, an 8th grader at Dual Language Middle School in Manhattan, as he shared with us what motivates him.
Winston Richard is a one of a kind All-Star. He is barely five feet and less than a hundred pounds soaking wet, but every ounce of his being is invested in his number one goal in life: “My climb is to be a great basketball player and to one day make it to the NBA”, says Winston. When we asked him how he powers his climb to be in the NBA, he says “what powers my climb is to one day be able to play like Stephen Curry.”
With his climb being the NBA, Winston wears the number 30 on his jersey like his idol Stephen Curry. When he scores a bucket, he pounds his chest and points to the sky, just like the two-time MVP. Winston mirrors Curry’s character as he oozes charisma, he cares about the success of others, and he works harder than anyone else.
Through our enrichment activities, our students have been able to build confidence, resilience and self-esteem. Winston is the embodiment of After-School All-Stars as he is progressive in his endeavours and works diligently in class and on the courts to one day achieve his climb to be in the NBA and play like Stephen Curry.
After-School All-Stars provides options beyond the basketball court; which is why our program is so special. Through ASAS, Winston and hundreds of students like him across New York and New Jersey gain exposure to people and pathways that they may have never discovered on their own. Winston gets to sit with entrepreneurs, business leaders, and athletes to learn the importance of grit and the endless pursuit of one’s passions. He gets to build the 21st century workplace skills that leaders around the country are looking for.
We support Winston’s climb and we encourage you to do the same. Climb 4 Kids is around the corner and it is not too late to make a donation, join a team or create your own team. Visit our Crowdrise Fundraiser page today to learn more on how you can contribute to ASAS and help power Winston’s climb and the climb of all of our All-Stars. What’s YOUR climb?
With Climb 4 Kids six weeks away, After-School All-Stars of NYNJ is shining light on our participants that are going above and beyond to prepare for the climb and capture the essence of what ASAS is all about.
Climb 4 Kids’ largest company involvement is from News America Marketing, a subsidiary of ASAS national partner, News Corp. Their 2 teams includes 45 participants and is lead by climb captains Angela DiLemme, SVP SmartSource Media Group and Ryan Devoe, EVP Eastern Sales. In an interview with DiLemme, she shares with ASAS what it has been like for her to manage a team, what teamwork means to her, and what the teams at News America Marketing are doing to prepare for C4K!
Inspired by Heather Locklear’s character on 1990’s soap opera Melrose Place, Angela DiLemme knew her calling was to get dressed up everyday, manage a team, and be the ultimate “Lady Boss”. DiLemme is nothing short of what she envisioned for her future as she leads a team of 40 employees at News America Marketing as SVP SmartSource Media Group.
Aside from managing new students out of college through News America’s Career and Development Program, Angela is currently leading the biggest team for Climb 4 Kids 2016 thus far! With 55 members on Team DiLemme, participants have been raising employee morale with smoothie bars, bake sales and candygrams, all in an effort to raise funds for C4K.
DiLemme was recruited on campus at Hofstra University by News America Marketing, in which she was hired into their career and development program. 20 years later, DiLemme now manages recent college graduates through the career and development program. “Managing a team at News America is super rewarding,” says DiLemme. “It’s an awesome experience because I get to influence young adults at an early age and teach them the fundamentals of being successful in business.”
DiLemme also organized a volunteer day for her employees with After-School All-Stars in May and she explained that it was “a great experience for everyone and it was so important in getting people rallied together, fostering teamwork, and working for a great cause.”
The momentum of gathering everyone together and implementing teamwork has been substantial as DiLemme has created two teams for the Climb and consistently motivates and encourages everyone. For DiLemme, in order to successfully manage a team and execute great teamwork, it all begins with the individual. “To keep people motivated within the organization, you have to create a special niche,” says DiLemme. “Making time for everybody is key to me because everyone wants to be part of something that’s bigger and you have to make everyone feel important as the next person.”
“Teaching a management style that’s about putting people first, in itself motivates people in terms of holding people accountable and being helpful and having everybody feel like they’re not on their own, these are all things that make people feel good as an employee.”
Though both teams of News America Marketing are competing against one another, they are also helping one another as they host multiple events to raise money for C4K. They were able to raise around $400 through hosting a smoothie bar in their office and to continue to build morale and fundraising efforts, News America Marketing hosted a “Do Good With Burritos” Chipotle Fundraiser on Tuesday, September 13th in which 50% of proceeds will be donated to ASAS. They will be hosting another Chipotle fundraiser in October.
News America Marketing is also organizing a bake sale this month. She explains that it’s not your average bake sale in that “everyone who volunteered to bake has to bake sixty items the size of a quarter, so you’re not paying for the baked good, you’re paying for a vote.”
The final fundraising initiative will take place in October as Team DiLemme will be organizing a nationwide Halloween candygram in which employees of News America Marketing will send candy and a message to counterparts across the country.
This years theme for Climb 4 Kids is “Power Your Climb”, which is an opportunity for our participants to think about what their goal(s) or “climb” is in life and giving power to the skills, abilities and resources needed to attain that goal. For DiLemme, she says that “my climb is inner peace and it’s inner peace for myself, the people around me and the people I’m able to affect. I want them to have a sense of doing their best, looking at themselves in the mirror and knowing that they gave it their all and that they tried their hardest.”
DiLemme also shared some advice that she felt would encourage other climbers this year, as well as our ASAS students to work together as they climb 68 floors. “There’s something super special about helping someone else. If you’re doing it by yourself and you don’t have anybody to celebrate it with, it’s anticlimactic. Your best success comes when you collaborate with people and have someone to share it with. You have to surround yourself with people that you know could help & support you and will be your fan base.”
Though Team DiLemme is nervous about taking on 68 floors, DiLemme feels that this year her team’s climb is collaboration. They will “Power Their Climb” by bringing together groups of people that before, may not know each other or have not worked together. For DiLemme, teamwork is about surrounding yourself with the people that can help you, support you and celebrate with you. With the support and collaboration of every team member, together Team DiLemme will “Power Their Climb”.