Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Skillman Foundation Launches Youth Development Resource Center

The Skillman Foundation has launched the Youth Development Resource Center – a new initiative that will help Skillman-funded organizations collect and use data as a key part of their youth development strategy.

Focused on ensuring that Detroit youth have access to the resources needed to thrive, the Skillman Foundation invests in neighborhoods and the community-based organizations that support children and families. However, the Skillman Foundation recognizes that simply investing in programs and services is not enough. In addition to traditional support, Skillman has committed to helping organizations build their capacity to collect and utilize data - an essential component of tracking outcomes and improving programs and services over time to best meet the needs of Detroit youth. Though many youth organizations regularly collect data, such as the age of participants and daily attendance, it is important to understand the different kinds of data that can be collected and how data can generate evidence about a program’s success. Indeed, data is more than just numbers of statistics – it is a powerful tool that can tell a story about the challenging conditions many youth, as well as the outcomes that can be achieved.

In an interview about the Youth Development Resource Center, Sara Plachta-Elliot – a fellow at the Skillman Foundation and a community-based researcher – explores how the Center will support Skillman’s youth development grantees. Specifically, she highlights how the Youth Development Resource Center will help organizations to generate data that is both practical and easily accessible to staff, especially youth workers who spend most of their time working directly with youth. Though a youth worker’s job many not involve collecting data, it is essential that youth workers use data to understand the challenges a youth is facing and track his/her progress to ensure that the right kinds of supports are in place to achieve success.

Moving forward, Youth Development Resource Center staff will engage in a series of listening sessions both in the Detroit and across the nation in search of data collection practices implemented by youth programs. In the coming year, the Youth Development Resource Program will share these learnings through capacity-building opportunities.

Do you know of a youth program that is doing a great job both collecting and using data? Reach out to the Youth Development Resource Center to let them know!

Data Resources:
Making a Difference In Your Neighborhood: A Handbook for Using Community Decision-Making to Improve the Lives of Children, Youth and Families.

BNCP Resource CenterUseable Data Tools and Templates

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