How Are You Capturing Your Program’s Impact on Young People?

January 16, 2019

We’ve recently been delighted at SEED Impact to work with a range of diverse social programs that wanted assistance to report the life-changing outcomes being achieved with youth.    

 

When you witness a young person (childhood to age 30) experiencing a shift in coherence, it is thrilling!  There is no question that they see the world and their potential in it with fresh eyes.  There is no mistaking the scent of newfound courage to try new things, the look of increased self-confidence, the sound of self-regulation and improved social skills.  And when a sense of hope for the future is awakened that was previously in short supply – it is all so exciting to behold, you can almost taste it.  Right?

 

What’s tricky is that these “soft skills” are hard to convey.  You want to shout from the rooftop (within earshot of your funders): 

 

“We are changing lives here!” 

 

But how does a community-serving program credibly report transformational change?

 

Sure, it’s easy enough to count how many people have been in attendance, and how many achieve which particular skills.

 

In fact, typically, when an organization finds us at SEED Impact, they are fairly deeply mired in collecting all manner of quantitative evidence. They are likely to be spending a great deal of time administering surveys, tracking reach and frequency of engagement, in all kinds of creative ways.  Indeed they are amassing more than enough data.

 

And there it sits in a data base.

 

 

Leaders suspect that the task of reporting outcomes should not be so time-consuming, so belabored, even painful.  They wish they could figure out what to do with all the results collected. 

 

They wonder if funders are even that interested, relative to the work entailed?  They’d love to be able to collect and harvest just the right data, with ease, to improve programming, convey the youth experience, and credibly report their life-changing impact.   

 

 

If you resonate with the above hyper-generalized portrait of harsh nonprofit experience, have we got a tool for you!

 

At SEED Impact, right now we are laser-focused on social emotional development, or Social Emotional Learning (SEL).  One huge benefit of measuring SEL with SEED Impact is that it ties your work to a vast and ever-growing body of research.  Two further benefits are the important learning that emerges for both program leaders and participants.  It's like feeding three birds with one seed!

 

We keep it simple.  We use stage models to track each participant’s developmental growth and learning over time. 

 

SEED’s approach is distinguished by:

  1. Curtailing inquiry to collect the most important data for before-after and year-to-year comparison;

  2. Supplementing numbers with narrative explanation and testimonial, and

  3. Customization and beautiful reports that capture the language and spirit of your program.

 

That’s all I’ll say for now. 

 

Here’s a video,

 

and another, to learn more.

 

You may also have interest to take a deep dive into stage models.  Especially if you are already using standardized behavior rating tools to count frequency and degrees of skill-building, this quick read is a good next step for you.  There’s more on our website.

 

Soon as you like, let’s talk!  SEED’s evaluation guru, Dr. Barry Kibel and I would love to understand your challenges and contribute in making your lives easier and reports more exemplary of the lives forever changing in your midst.  We get a serious kick out of simplifying data collection and engaging talented graphic artists to help you nail the big “so what” question: 

 

What lasting difference does your program make?   

 

Nothing pleases our team at SEED more than to see you magnetize the resources needed to reach more of the people you care most about with what you are uniquely positioned to deliver.  There is abundance in this world and we want to see it rain on you! 

 

Let's explore what we can do together.  Be in touch: possibilities@seedimpact.org.

 

 

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About The Authors

Melinda Lackey is co-founder and director of SEED Impact, which to-date has assisted more than 300 diverse non-profit initiatives to communicate and coordinate action more efficiently, sustain higher performance and achieve greater social impact.

 

Contact Melinda at   possibilities@seedimpact.org

Barry Kibel, Ph.D., is Director of Innovation and Research at SEED.  He contributes more than five decades of experience devising evaluation and planning instruments to support transformational work.

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