Who needs at-risk youth programs the most?
For many families, summertime means warm weather, swimming pools, and carefree activities. But summer can also be a stressful three-month period for at-risk students. With school out of session, children often don’t have access to the resources they do during the academic year. For instance, after-school tutoring services, free breakfast and lunch programs don’t extend into summer. This can put added pressure on lower-income households who rely on these resources to help support their children.
Summer also means plenty of free time. And while it’s important for children to unwind and take a much-deserved break from their studies, they also need structure. Too much idle time can lead to boredom, which can result in children getting into trouble.
In short, summer is a time of fun and relaxation. But it’s also an opportunity to ensure at-risk children stay engaged and on a positive path. Nonprofits that specialize in running at-risk youth programs are key in striking this balance.
Here are four ways technology can help your organization better support at-risk children this summer.
Provide Structure to Keep Children Engaged in At-Risk Youth Programs
Research shows an increase in summer learning loss when children aren’t academically engaged. The lack of structured learning can take a toll on students’ math and reading skills. However, social skills and general health and well-being may suffer as well. This is especially true for low-income students. It’s crucial for at-risk youth programs to provide structure, safety, and of course, a little fun during the summer. To keep students engaged, it’s helpful to think of programs as a summer enrichment experience.
For example, let’s say data from the past three years shows students in the 13-15 age range struggling with math. From this, you decide to create a separate math curriculum for students transitioning from 8th to 9th grade.
These data-driven decisions keep programs structured around the needs of the children. Whatever your program curriculum entails, case management software can empower you to better tailor programs to help students have a successful and fun summer.
Prove Your Impact. Secure More Funding.
Technology also helps at-risk youth programs secure more funding. The better an organization is able to demonstrate its impact, the more likely it is to receive additional funding. Funders don’t want to just know what you did – they want to see how it impacted the community.
For example, let’s say one student’s grades improved from a C to an A during the school year. And the data shows a correlation between when the student began tutoring lessons and the uptick in grades. Using this insight, you could offer other students tutoring for the same subject. Ultimately, this helps to both reduce summer learning loss and further improve the student’s path to success.
Nonprofits using case management software to track this student’s journey – both in and beyond the program – have a valuable opportunity. They can create data-driven stories to show funders the positive ripple effect of their programs.
Additional funding for at-risk youth programs means more budget to better serve children. Whether it’s used to buy healthy snacks or fund additional enrichment activities and field trips, consistent funding is essential for these programs to continue creating positive summer experiences for K-12 children. These are experiences that ultimately help drive better outcomes for each student.
Automate Manual Tasks (And Get More Face Time)
Software solutions also help to automate manual, tedious tasks. One example of this is attendance tracking in at-risk youth programs. Instead of spending time manually completing this task with a clipboard and paper, use a solution that automates this process. It saves time on the front end while also gathering data you can access later to review individual student attendance. Most importantly, automation puts valuable time back in the day. This is time you can spend interacting with students face-to-face, giving them more hands-on help and guidance.
Successful at-risk youth programs provide structure through engaging activities. If you’re spending too much time on mundane tasks that could be automated, you can’t give children the full attention they need to get the most out of the program.
Communicate Often for Visibility
Many parents and guardians work during the summer. And when a child’s schedule isn’t structured around a school day it can be stressful. At-risk youth programs can give caretakers peace of mind. And by communicating regularly with them about the program’s schedule and activities, you can build trust while giving them a sense of their children’s progress throughout the summer.
At the end of the summer, you can leverage technology to show the program helped their child. Starting with the basics of program attendance, all the way to tracking progress in programs. And finally, ending with providing recommendations for additional services for each student. A robust case and outcomes management platform can help your organization tell its impact story to the community – including parents and guardians – and funders.
With the right tools, planning, and thoughtful communication, nonprofits can help provide this balance and give students the enriching summer experience they deserve.