Powerful Transformations: Strengthening, Evaluating, and Funding the Impact of Youth Organizing on Individual Young People.
This capacity building initiative supports ten well-established youth organizing groups to understand, strengthen, and measure how they support young people’s social/emotional, academic, and basic needs as they organize. In addition, groups receive training to reach new funders, especially those funders that focus on outcomes for individual young people.
One of the great challenges of youth organizing is figuring out how to support young people’s holistic needs while at the same time organizing powerful campaigns. Over the last several years, youth organizing groups have increasingly incorporated programs to support their members’ basic needs and development. Research shows that youth organizing is a highly effective way to improve social and emotional, academic, and civic engagement outcomes for young people. Because of the relative lack of funding for youth organizing, groups have typically not had the resources to adequately measure or communicate these impacts.
In addition, FCYO recently conducted a research project to identify new funders that might support youth organizing and the messages most likely to reach them. This research found that there are a number of funders who care about outcomes for young people that might support youth organizing groups, but that different approaches to communicating with these funders are needed. The research project produced tools and messages that youth organizing groups can use to better communicate with these funders.
The capacity building work in Powerful Transformations will be broken into two parts. In the first part, participants will receive support to assess, strengthen, and measure how they support youth members. Participants will look at how they are already supporting the development of youth leaders, share models with each other, and assess how these practices connect to the research on youth development and social/emotional learning. Participants will then create an individualized theory of change that describes how young people benefit from participation in their program. In addition, participants will utilize an online tool to conduct pre and post surveys to assess impacts on their members. Finally, participants will learn how to use the survey data to improve programs and communicate with funders.
In the second part of the program, participants will receive support on how to reach new funders, especially those focused on outcomes for individual young people (as opposed to those focused on organizing and campaigns). Using the research from FCYO’s Shared Narrative project, participants will learn how to identify potential new funders and and how to develop messages appropriate to different types of funders, such as youth development funders and community foundations. Each organization will develop a plan to improve foundation fundraising and will receive one-on-one coaching to implement that plan.
Organizations selected for the cohort will identify two organizational leaders to participate in all cohort activities (see list of activities below). This should include one person with a leadership role in fundraising and one person with a leadership role in youth organizing and leadership development. Participation of the Executive Director or head of the youth organizing program is recommended. Participants will receive a $10,000 grant, half at the start and half upon completion of the program.
Powerful Transformations is intended for well-established youth organizing groups who have a track record for strong campaigns and an intentional youth leadership development program.
- To assist youth organizing groups in understanding, strengthening, and measuring how they support young people’s social/emotional, academic, and basic needs as they organize.
- To increase the capacity of youth organizing groups to reach new foundation funders, especially those funders that focus on outcomes for individual young people.
Participants will engage in the following activities:
- Identify two organizational leaders to participate in all cohort activities. This should include one person with a leadership role in fundraising and one person with a leadership role in youth organizing and leadership development.
- Participation of the Executive Director or head of the youth organizing program is recommended.
- Conduct an initial assessment of current youth supports, evaluation, and fundraising capacity.
- Attend a two-day kick off training for all participants to be held June 5-6.
- Participate in 8 web based trainings to further knowledge and share learnings among the cohort.
- Utilize an online evaluation tool to conduct pre and post surveys for a cohort of youth leaders (participants will have access to the evaluation tool for 2 years).
- Develop a plan to improve foundation fundraising and receive 12-15 hours of one-on-one coaching on implementation
Training topics will include:
- Understanding the language of youth development and social and emotional learning
- Evaluating outcomes for individual young people
- Using data to improve programs
- The youth organizing funding landscape
- Communicating about youth organizing to different types of funders
- Foundation fundraising strategies such as prospecting, storytelling, and site visits.
Outcomes for participating organizations:
- Deeper understanding of youth development and social and emotional learning language and their connections to youth organizing activities and outcomes
- An individualized research-based logic model articulating how young people benefit from participation in your organization
- Increased capacity to evaluate outcomes for individual young people and a research validated evaluation using the YD iLearning System tools.
- Increased capacity to use data to drive staff development, program improvements and effective communication with donors and funders.
- A strategic fundraising plan to identify and target new foundation funders
- Increased capacity to articulate program impact (including both individual and community level impacts and utilizing proposals, meetings, site visits, and more) to different kinds of funders with a specific focus on youth development funders