NewsFlash: Volume 1, Issue 2

Published on December 6, 2012 | Written by

December 2012

Youthprise publishes a News Flash newsletter on a quarterly basis to update our community on news that impacts the work that is done here at Youthprise. Take a look at the latest edition!

Building Data to Make the Case

Measuring a program’s effectiveness is something funders always want to know. A partnership between Sprockets, a network of after-school and summer learning programs in Saint Paul, and Youthprise is going a long way toward helping stakeholders understand the impact of youth participation in activities outside of school.

This impact is best measured with a formal data system that documents participation levels in out-of-school time (OST) programs. Youthprise seeks to lead the way in ensuring  that there’s a shared data system across the Twin Cities that answers a range of critical questions about the effectiveness and demand for out-of-school time activities.

Questions like: How many people are involved in out-of-school time activities? Where do out-of-school time activities exist and is there a sufficient amount of them for youth? Are there populations that are underserved? How can we measure their impact? These are all good and necessary questions that deserve appropriate answers.
Sprockets employs five core strategies that, together, are designed to achieve the goal of improving the quality, availability and effectiveness of OST learning for all youth. These strategies, or core building blocks, were gleaned from the success of other programs in other states and will be incorporated into the new data system.

Youthprise supports organizations that emphasize accountability in their administration of out-of-school time activities and who seek to build and establish a single database of information. The Sprockets OST time database pilot, launched in the fall of 2011, is the first of its kind in Minnesota.

“Sprockets understands that collecting data alone will not improve youth access or program quality in Saint Paul,” says Kari Denissen, director of Sprockets. “This data must be used at both the program and system/policy level to maximize its use.”

“It’s a key strategy of Sprockets to provide reliable information about what is happening in out-of-school time for many reasons,” says Kari. “First, we’re interested in building thecapacity of local organizations that provide afterschool and summer learning oppor- tunities. And secondly, the data we gather will allow us to drive quality improvements in the work we do.”

The data will also allow Sprockets to generate information that will highlight the role of out-of-school time in the success of young people. “The data will allow us to answer basic questions regarding access and participation. It is just as important to determine who might be missing out on participation opportunities. We can’t an- swer those questions right now because we don’t have a tool to determine that information.”

The database will also seek to measure the multiplier or collaborative effect, a measure of the involvement of new partners and new funding to the field. “Sprockets is interested in coordinating data collection with other cities in the metro area so that a regional picture of OST is possible,”  says  Kari.  Sprockets  is working with Youthprise, Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board, and Wilder Research to identify organizations that provide youth programs in both Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

“There are many reasons we collect data,” adds Kari, “ultimately  it’s  about  making sure young people are successful.”

Youthprise’s partnership with Sprockets extends beyond just building a comprehensive data system. It also offers Sprockets the opportunity to match funding to help leverage additional financial support. And, by sharing information about best practices, Youthprise helps Sprockets do its work better by learning the lessons faced by other communities doing the same work.


Youth Act as Catalysts

Have you seen bright yellow “Youth Are Here!” signs in your neighborhoods and communities? These signs represent the efforts of Youth Action Crews and authenticate places and programs that are youth friendly. Youth Action Crew is a community-based, youth-led research, mapping, marketing, and community development initiative to build awareness and increase participation in youth development programs and opportunities. The project requires that youth interview young people, employers, youth program providers and other adults to learn about programs, interests and perceived barriers to participation.

While the work of the Youth Action Crews is valuable because it identifies special places for youth, their efforts are also notable because it’s a project that’s truly a joint partnership between youth and adults. Most projects tend to be driven more by adults or youth; not many projects involve a true “sweet spot” of partnership where youth and adults contribute equally. The Youth Action Crews hit the sweet spot by giving young people and adults equal opportunities to use their skills, make decisions, and to design and run the project.

“The Youth Action Crew idea was a reflection of a concern that there are so many middle-school and high-school age youth who fall, quite literally, in the middle too young drive and to work, and too old for the afterschool programs of elementary school kids. And there are far too many young peo- ple without anything to do, and without supervi- sion. One of the greatest barriers to participation in youth programs is simply a lack of information about what is available. The Youth Action Crews and the youth mapping projects help young people and their parents to identify youth-serving organi- zations and to become engaged in programs they are interested in helping to grow participation throughout Minneapolis.”

-Beki Saito is a Senior Research Associate with the University of Minnesota Extension. Her research launched the Youth Action Crews.

Beyond the sweet spot of youth/adult partnerships, the Youth Action Crews provide valuable information and data on youth-friendly opportunities in their communities. They’ve creatively packaged this information by designing a colorful map of the neighborhood depicting programs and locations where programming for youth occurs. Maps are distributed throughout neighborhoods to increase both awareness and participation.

Youth Action Crews tackled several key issues for out-of-school time programming including:

  • Providing relevant information. More accurate data is needed on the supply and demand for learning opportunities as well as greater understanding of the demographics of participating youth.
  • Increasing program awareness to youth and their parents. One of the greatest barriers to participation is a lack of information about available programs.
  • Youth engagement. Young people have a voice as members in the Youth Action Crews. They’re involved during the actual research and interview process, and again as catalysts for improvement and growth of programs and opportunities.
  • Modeling youth-adult partnerships. This project is a rare example of youth and adult mentors sharing equally in decision-making and project implementation.

The Youth Action Crews illustrate the importance young people place on the quality and availability of out-of-school time programming. The initiative allows young people to see themselves as assets, and gives them a chance to both lead and contribute on a project that significantly impacts their own communities by increasing out-of-school time opportunities for themselves and their peers. And, just as importantly, it helps them build valuable skills for a lifetime.

For more information on how to find out if your organization is hitting the “sweet spot‟ of youth adult partnerships, or for information of how you can begin to engage youth in your organization, contact Libby Rau, Youthprise Director of Youth Engagement;


Young people have more than 2,000 hours of discretionary time beyond the classroom each year – more than twice what they spend in the classroom. It’s during this time when they have the opportunity to participate in activities that support their intellectual, social, emotional and physical development – qualities that will empower them for the rest of their lives.



Capacity Building

One of the primary functions served by Youthprise is to provide fledgling, grassroots organizations with the knowledge and expertise to take them to the next level. Youthprise’s partnership with Ka Joog, whose mission is to provide meaningful activities for Somali youth in Minnesota through arts and mentoring, is an excellent example.

At an operational level, funding received  from Youthprise  allowed  Ka Joog to open a much needed mentoring and tutoring center in Eden Prairie. But it’s Youthprise’s support beyond the actual monetary grant that’s made such a big difference.

“When foundations and other funders  see  that an organization like Youthprise is backing our program, they’re more likely to support our efforts as well,” says Mohamed Farah, executive director of Ka Joog. “It provides us with credibility that opens doors to new donors.”

In addition to the legitimacy that an association with Youthprise  brings, Ka Joog also receives guidance, information sharing and best practice resources. In 2012, Ka Joogparticipated in Youthprise convenings on technical assistance and the organization has begun its application to the Charities Review Council and is participating in Give to the Max Day this year.

Youthprise’s emphasis on the quality of programming has also helped Ka Joog. “Quality is very  important to us,” says Mohamed. “The quality assessment that Youthprise asks of their grantees is something that has been very helpful.”

As important as anything, Youthprise has helped create opportunities for collaboration, something that’s been critical to helping Ka Joog further its mission. “We work closely with the youth who will be leading our community,” says Mohamed. “There are so many youth in Minnesota that one organization cannot take on all the work itself. Each organization is good at one thing, and when you bring that one thing from all the organizations and put it together it maximizes the reach in a way that one organization would not be able to do.”

The level of engagement created through collaboration and the leveraging of resources helped Ka Joog earn a prestigious community leadership award from the FBI division in Minneapolis. Ka Joog will receive national recognition for its efforts to support Somali youth at a ceremony in Washington from the director of the FBI, an achievement that gives the growing organization great pride.

“Collaboration is very important to us,” says Mohamed. “For every program that we initiate, we try to make sure that others are also involved. We know that the results are bigger than if it were just us alone.”


Supporting Grant Brings Innovative Voter Registration and Outreach

Youth are at the center of our mission at Youthprise. We can see the power of youth when they mobilize around important issues, and note the impact they have on their circle of influence – their parents,  grandparents,  classmates,  friends,  and  co-workers. Today’s young people are connected to one another and to things that matter to them around the world. They have the opportunity to make lasting changes to their own lives and to our community’s future.

To help engage young people in the tradition of the American democratic process, the Asian & Pacific Islanders American Vote (APIA Vote) launched a nonpartisan, Asian American,  youth-focused, civic and political engagement project in Minnesota.

The initiative received $100,000 grant from the Florida-based Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and leveraged a supporting grant of $35,000 from Youthprise. And, as part of its culture of collaboration, APIA Vote partnered with 0ther Youthprise grantees to organize voter registration, voter education, and voter mobilization efforts in the Asian American communities in Minnesota.

The changing face of Minnesota youth: Asian Americans and African Americans in Minnesota account for about five percent each of the state’s total population. In the last 10 years, the Asian community grew by 52 percent, making it one of the fastest growing communities in the state, and, according to the 2010 census, youth and young adults (ages 0-34 years old) make up over sixty-six percent of Minnesota’s total Asian American population.

When you think of election-year voter registration efforts, you probably think of traditional tactics like phone banks and door knocking. But the APIA Vote project experimented with innovative tactics and technologies. Using Facebook, Twitter, texting, spoken word, flash mobs, youth-led public forums, short films and public service announcements on YouTube, APIA Vote challenged the norm to determine which tactics are the most effective in mobilizing young people to political action.

Beyond voter registration efforts, APIA Vote is transforming the civic  knowledge, political consciousness and self-efficacy of leaders from APIA’s partners. These young, Asian American Minnesotans will be well prepared to lead, encourage and empower their peers and elders to become part of the American democratic process. And though its focus of the project was on Asian American youth, the circle of influence is sure to inspire a sense of empowerment in other young people in communities of color.


Upcoming Events!

  • Tuesday, December 18th 9:00 – 10:00 am Join us for a one hour webinar presented by Rudy Guglielmo, Jr., Youthprise Program Officer. Topic: The Youth Funders Network Learning Labs discussion of Funder Collaboration and Unintentional Outcomes. Register for the Webinar at:
  • Watch for the release of the Youthprise position paper – Investing in the Enterprise of Youth


Contact: Karen Kingsley

Director of Public Policy and Communications

612-564-4858 ext 5



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