I’m Nicole Clark, social worker and owner of Nicole Clark Consulting (http://www.nicoleclarkconsulting.com), where I partner with community-based groups, local/national organizations, schools and more to design, implement, and evaluate programs and services geared toward women and girls of color.
In 2015, I conducted an impact evaluation on a 6-week intensive summer leadership program geared towards high school young women of color in the New York City (NYC) area. The program provided social justice classes, workshops, field trips, and leadership seminars with accomplished women of color leaders and is the flagship program of an NYC-based organization that provides social, political, and economic leadership programming for young women. The organization received funding to implement the program in another borough of NYC where we sought out to determine if it could be implemented successfully.
We used a mixed methods approach consisting of classroom observation, focus groups with the participants, in-depth interviews with on-site leadership, parents, and staff, and a post-intervention survey.
Lesson Learned #1: Conduct a community asset map to highlights the linkages, relationships, and resources located in a community. Prior to the start of the program, organizational staff conducted a community asset map to determine what resources, services, and community organizations and members were in the area. We concluded that this program presented a unique opportunity for the organization to bring a social justice curriculum leadership curriculum to the community.
Lesson Learned #2: Consider the accessibility of a program’s activities. A determinant of participants applying to the program was the commute time to the classroom site. While the program was open to all high school self-identified young women in each of NYC’s five boroughs, the flagship location is Manhattan. Remaining in their home borough allowed participants whose parents and guardians were concerned over them traveling to Manhattan to remain in the borough. Also, participants shared feeling more connected to the program and to the other participants because they were all from the same borough.
Lesson Learned #3: Staff capacity plays a major role in how a program is implemented. While the participants recommended the program be implemented in each borough, program staff identified the lack of staff capacity to do so. As a small organization, several on-site leadership and organization staff frequently traveled between the Manhattan site and the new borough. Also staff felt they had more community relationships in other boroughs compared to the borough in which the program and evaluation was implemented in. This provided a challenge for the staff, but also an opportunity to build community partnerships in a new borough
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