After the Bell: Culturally Specific After-school Programs

Social Solutions Blog

After the Bell: Culturally Specific After-school Programs

Youth Association for Academics, Athletics, and Character Education

Culturally specific programs targeting high-risk African American youth are on the rise, popping up all across the U.S. and Canada. One organization that is currently taking this problem head on is Youth Association for Academics, Athletics, and Character Education (YAAACE). YAAACE is located on neutral territory between rival gangs, and offers members of both gangs alternatives to violence and drugs; also providing kids a safe place after-school, during the summer, and on weekends.

Offering art, academics, and sports as alternatives have produced many success stories for YAAACE. The Toronto Star reported on Godwin Boahen, a recent participant from one of their programs who grew up in one of Canada’s most troubled neighborhoods. With the help of YAAACE, instead of becoming a part of the gun violence he witnessed as a child, he is going to the University of Illinois on a full scholarship where will be pursuing a degree in Business Accounting.

Self Enhancement, Inc.

Self Enhancement, Inc. (SEI) offers a similar, culturally specific program for high-risk African American youth. SEI has grown from a small summer camp program to a nationally recognized agency, currently serving more than 7,000 youth and families each year.

They work with students at school, in their home, and in the community, while also providing their families the support they need. SEI offers a number of programs to high-risk youth and their families including in-school programming, anti-poverty services, family stabilization services, and employment services. They also work on a relationship model which encourages a bond of trust and respect between the student and a supportive adult. This same relationship is built between the student’s parents and the agency’s coordinator.

The agency sets high expectations for their participants and builds a sense of purpose into all elements of the program. SEI’s success rate is phenomenal: the agency regularly has a graduation rate of 98%.

Using Data to Grow

When providing a multitude of services to a lot of people, data can feel overwhelming. SEI used to keep all their data on paper, as well as in a number of different funder databases. When it became clear that paper files and multiple databases were limiting their organization’s growth, SEI did some strategic planning. The result: a strengthen and expanded reach of their programs, with a new focus on capacity. The key to growing their capacity was gathering their dispersed data collection into one place.

SEI realized it was time to make the switch to a performance management data system. Ideally, this system would track the progress of all their students and families, as well as measurable program outcomes. SEI needed the ability to look at all services provided to students and their families to understand which interventions were most effective. By measuring progress and barriers, services could be optimized to ensure the greatest positive outcomes.

Finding the Right Fit

Efforts To Outcomes (ETO) software is the perfect fit, providing SEI with a single platform to record client information and track outcomes across multiple programs.

During the organization’s summer programs, coordinators use ETO to receive real-time attendance and participation information for the first time in organization history! Coordinators used this information to ensure students attend and fully participate in program activities. If a student is absent or not participating, the coordinator follows up with them. The result has been a significant increase in the participation rate for SEI’s summer program.

By using ETO, SEI has been able to show funders the dramatic impact of their work and participate in more collaborative partnerships, resulting in more funding. More funding has allowed them to expand their services to help even more people. Their long-term plan is to continue growing their program, both in quantity and quality.

For more information on performance management systems, please contact one of our Social Solutions Specialists. Or you can find out which system is right for your organization by using our interactive quiz.

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