As a national network, grantmaking enables us to continue our commitment to improved youth outcomes by working with a handful of community partners to build out dramatically improved data capacity at both the community and partner level. We have adapted an equity-focused grantmaking strategy to advance the data capacity of all communities regardless of size, location or existing capacity. To date, we have issued two types of grants to a total of five communities to support their data journey.
Systems Improvement Grant
Three OYF communities are:
- The Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC), which will engage their largest institutional partners, Boston Public Schools (BPS) and Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC), in a data capacity and analysis project to provide system-level and continuous improvement data to reduce high school and postsecondary disconnection rates.
- The Philadelphia Youth Network, Inc. (PYN), on behalf of Project U-Turn, will work with partners to expand its data tracking and reporting capacity to accelerate citywide efforts to reduce Philadelphia’s community disconnection rate.
- The Community Center for Education Results (Seattle/South King County, Washington) through their collaborative, the Road Map Project, will support the development of data-driven continuous improvement capacity within reengagement programs in order to improve student outcomes and close gaps in their opportunity youth work.
Rural and Tribal Data Enhancement Grants
Rural and tribal communities face significant challenges to build and maintain the data capacity needed to inform better strategies to meet their communities’ needs. This grant supports rural and tribal communities to deepen their capacity to collect and analyze data reflective of their communities that will expand their ability to generate accurate, reliable information to advance equity and continuous improvement.
The two current Data Enhancement grantees are:
- Hopi Opportunity Youth Initiative – The Hopi Foundation
The goal of the Hopi Opportunity Youth Initiative (HOYI)’s Data Enhancement Project is to reduce the Post-Secondary disconnection and Workforce disconnection rate among Hopi youth, ages 14 – 26, by building the capacity of HOYI staff and collaborative, specifically those partners that work with Post-Secondary and Workforce disconnection data and support services. Their Data Enhancement Project will build on their Equity Counts work by implementing the components of their Data Capacity Building plan, such as launch of a Data Intern Initiative and implementation of scale appropriate data collection tools for each workforce partner.
- Del Norte County & Tribal Lands
Del Norte’s Data Enhancement Project aims to improve its staff and partners’ capacity to address three key issues that will improve the community’s ability to use data to drive decision-making. The first is the issue of collecting relevant, high-quality data; a significant barrier in their small, rural community. The second issue is developing and improving data collection tools. Reliable data will improve the community’s capacity to address a third issue — to better understand the existing data and identify other new data to drive community-level changes to improve access to employment and education for opportunity youth. The project aims to develop a data collection tool and collect high-quality data on the postsecondary disconnection rate and the community disconnection rate in Del Norte County.
Technical Assistance, Dissemination and Learning
An important aspect of effective data use is having the capacity to successfully design, collect, analyze and use data. However, what makes this process sustainable is the fostering of a data use culture within an organization and partner organizations. To this end, FCS’s technical assistance efforts are informed and adapted based on community needs and input. Our current efforts include providing Results Based Accountability training, and providing a Data Talk discussion series.
Results Based Accountability (RBA)
We partnered with Standpoint Consulting to use the Results Based Accountability (RBA) Framework to build the capacity of our communities to set targets and to drive continuous improvement. We believe the RBA framework will establish a common approach for OYF communities to assess their strategies and to determine where changes can be made to achieve the desired, measurable outcomes and improvement. The RBA training will build on the Common Measures further by providing support for OY collaboratives’ strategies to track the impact of their work within their communities. It also provides communities a greater opportunity to use disaggregated data and to reflect on the components of their services that could be modified to improve OY outcomes.
The RBA training and technical assistance uses a multi-prong approach including self-paced sessions available to OYF communities, facilitator led live sessions and individual coaching sessions.
Exhibit 2: RBA Sessions
Data Talk Series
The goal of the Data Talk Series is to foster continuous learning within and among OYF communities. The Data Talk Series are quarterly webinars to introduce new data tools and to provide a forum to learn about different data related practices.
Assessment and Measurement
Our commitment to measurable outcomes is woven into the fabric of who we are as a network. With the development of the Common Measures, we are measuring the overall opportunity youth disconnection rate; and the disconnection rates for high school, post-secondary and workforce annually using the American Community Survey. The common measures give each community a unique annual look into their OY data, specific to the geographic area for their collaborative. The data breaks down the numbers of OY into four different segments, and further disaggregates youth in each segment by race, age, gender and other important demographic variables. The segments are:
- Overall community disconnection rate: The rate of young people disconnected from work and school (i.e., opportunity youth).
- High school disconnection rate: The rate of young people without a high school diploma/GED and not working who are disconnected from high school.
- Postsecondary disconnection rate: The rate of young people with a high school diploma/GED, without a postsecondary credential who are disconnected from postsecondary education and not working.
- Workforce disconnection rate: The rate of young people with a postsecondary credential, but not enrolled in postsecondary, who are disconnected from the workforce.
Annual OYF Self-Assessment
Additionally, we conduct annual self-assessments of our communities to help them track their progress in the following three areas:
- Systems Change: This area assesses the impact of collaboratives at producing changes within local systems. The seven indicators of systems change are public policy change, public funding, private funding, funder alignment, data, communications, public will-building, and OY narrative change, and pathway improvements.
- Collaborative Capacity: This area assesses the health and capacity of the collaborative. The four indicators of healthy collaborative capacity are leadership, planning, and convening power, data and learning, raising awareness and strategic communication, and resources for the collaborative
- Cross-Cutting Priorities: The work of OYF is founded on an approach that prioritizes equity and engagement. The three indicators related to practices of the collaborative are equity, youth led change, and community power building.
The OYF Annual Self-Assessment results is shared annually with each community in a dashboard format, that shows their data compared to the OYF network average, as well as compared to a peer group of similar collaboratives. This information is used by collaboratives to inform programmatic foci, policy change efforts, and more.
Policy and Advocacy
Effective policy and advocacy enables our communities to achieve sustainable impact for the greatest number of opportunity youth. Thus, in addition to supporting communities scale reconnection pathways to improve education and employment outcomes for opportunity youth, we also partner with our communities to develop a policy and advocacy agenda to influence decision- and policymakers.