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Cultivating Organizational Change: Post-Program Findings from the First Two Cohorts of PropelNext

March 1, 2020

Drawing on research and hands-on experience in organizational effectiveness and performance management, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) developed PropelNext, an intensive program designed to build the capacity of promising nonprofits to deliver high-quality services that improve life outcomes for increasing numbers of economically disadvantaged youth in the U.S. The first PropelNext cohort, which participated from 2012 to 2015, originally comprised 15 organizations across the country. EMCF led a second, California-based cohort of 15 organizations from 2015 to 2018 in partnership with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Sobrato Family Foundation, and the Weingart Foundation. In fall 2018, a third cohort of 12 exclusively Northern California-based organizations began the program supported by the Edna McConnell Clark, William and Flora Hewlett, David and Lucile Packard, Sobrato Family, and Heising-Simons foundations. Engage R+D examined both cohorts that have completed PropelNext on an organization-by-organization basis to answer the following questions: Improving overall organizational capacity and operations: How effective is PropelNext in stimulating improvements in organizational capacity and operations? Tracking areas of progress: In what areas of organizational functioning is PropelNext most effective in building the capacity of its grantees to serve underserved youth?

Re-engaging Youth for High School Success. Evaluation of the Good Shepherd Services Transfer School Model

August 3, 2018

This study contributes to the knowledge base about strategies for helping disconnected youth re-engage with schooling. The study presents findings of a rigorous impact evaluation of the Good Shepherd Services (GSS) Transfer School Model that is grounded in developmental theory positing that social and emotional factors are essential to academic learning and achievement. The full-day, year-round model includes intensive support services and youth development practices with personalized, standards-based instruction. The outcome evaluation assessed the extent to which the GSS model as implemented was meeting its objectives, and estimated the intervention impacts on intended student outcomes based on treatment-comparison contrasts. Outcome study hypotheses: students in the GSS transfer schools will demonstrate better academic outcomes, better school-day attendance, and better behavioral outcomes than students in the comparison group. The outcome evaluation was conducted in New York City public schools and used a rigorous quasi-experimental design to compare outcomes for students enrolled at two GSS transfer schools to outcomes for equivalent comparison groups matched based on important baseline characteristics. The study participants were over-aged and under-credited urban high school students. GSS students in the study were primarily Hispanic and from low-income families, and with a history of truancy. Comparison students were drawn from students enrolled in 11 other Brooklyn transfer schools not affiliated with GSS. These schools have a similar core educational program but may vary in practices such as admissions criteria and partnership roles and responsibilities. The outcome evaluation was conducted from 2011 through 2015 and used archival school records. In addition, to gain insight into how social and emotional factors might influence outcomes, the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP), a validated survey developed by the Search Institute, was administered to incoming GSS students before the start and at the end of the 2012-13 school year. Results from the impact evaluation indicate that, compared to well-matched groups of over-age, under-credited students attending other transfer schools, the GSS transfer school model has a significant positive impact on graduation as well as the intermediate outcomes of credit attainment and school attendance. In addition, exploratory subgroup analyses indicate that female GSS students and students who entered the transfer schools with less than 11 credits have a significantly higher probability of graduating than the comparison students. Analysis of DAP data indicate that GSS students significantly increased their constructive use of time. Regression analyses further showed a significant association between constructive use of time and academic progress as measured by credit accumulation. Study results indicate the effectiveness of the GSS Transfer School Model in supporting students who are over-age and under-credited. Although the absence of a comparison group for the DAP analysis limited an assessment of the impact of the GSS model on social and emotional changes, the results confirmed the relationship between assets and academic performance, as well as participation in extracurricular activities and civic engagement. Data from the study are displayed in 22 figures and one table. The evaluation design and methods, comparison group and regression analyses, and DAP data are presented in technical appendices.

Sustaining Change: PropelNext Alumni Results One Year Later

April 1, 2017

In 2012, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) launched PropelNext to support promising nonprofits in strengthening their capacity to use data for learning, self-evaluation, and ongoing improvement. The first national cohort of grantees completed the program in 2015, and EMCF is conducting a study with alumni organizations to understand how PropelNext contributes to increased capacity and organizational performance over time. This learning brief highlights key insights and reflections from focus groups with CEOs and Executive Directors, and phone interviews with program and operational leaders from grantee organizations in late 2016.

Designing Scholarships To Improve College Success: Final Report On the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration

November 16, 2015

Performance-based scholarships have two main goals: to give students more money for college and to provide incentives for academic progress. They are designed to reduce the financial burden on low-income students and help them progress academically by offering financial aid contingent upon meeting pre-specified academic benchmarks. The scholarships are intended to cover a modest amount of students' educational costs during the semesters they are offered -- generally between 15 and 25 percent of students' unmet financial need, the difference between students' calculated financial need to attend college and the financial aid they are awarded. The money is paid directly to students, on top of their existing federal and state need-based financial aid, and the students themselves decide how best to use the funds. MDRC launched the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration in 2008 to evaluate the effectiveness of these scholarships for as broad a range of low-income students as possible, in a variety of settings, and with varying incentive structures. As such, the evaluation includes more than 12,000 students in institutions across six states to test different performance-based scholarship designs. These results show that even relatively moderate investments in low-income students' education can have modest but long-lasting impacts on their academic outcomes. These findings may be especially relevant to states, institutions, and private scholarship providers seeking purposeful and efficient ways to give low-income students additional financial aid that can also help them succeed academically.

Gateway to College: Lessons from Implementing a Rigorous Academic Program for At-Risk Young People

September 1, 2015

Despite efforts to improve the high school graduation rate in the United States, an estimated 7,200 students drop out of high school every day -- a staggering 1.3 million every year. Further, a recent report by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University projects that by 2020, nearly 65 percent of U.S. jobs will require at least some college education, out of reach for those who are unable to earn a high school diploma. Much more comprehensive alternative education programs are needed that put dropouts and students at risk of dropping out on a path to earn high school diplomas while also providing them with the academic skills and support necessary to be successful in their postsecondary pursuits.

Becoming Adults: One-Year Impact Findings from the Youth Villages Transitional Living Evaluation

May 1, 2015

Young adults with histories of foster care or juvenile justice custody experience poor outcomes across a number of domains, on average, relative to their peers. While government funding for services targeting these groups of young people has increased in recent years, research on the effectiveness of such services is limited, and few of the programs that have been rigorously tested have been found to improve outcomes. The Youth Villages Transitional Living Evaluation is testing whether the Transitional Living program, operated by the social service organization Youth Villages, makes a difference in the lives of young people with histories of foster care or juvenile justice custody. The program, which was renamed "YVLifeSet" in April 2015, is intended to help these young people make a successful transition to adulthood by providing intensive, individualized, and clinically focused case management, support, and counseling.

Boosting the Life Chances of Young Men of Color: Evidence From Promising Programs

June 25, 2014

In light of the momentum building to improve the fortunes of young men of color, this review examines what is known about this population -- particularly related to their struggles in the labor market -- and highlights programs that are shown by randomized controlled trials to be making a difference.

An Experiment in Scaling Impact: Assessing the Growth Capital Aggregation Pilot

December 1, 2012

This report presents an assessment of the Growth Capital Aggregation Pilot. It was commissioned by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, founder and lead investor of the grantmaking initiative.Starting in 2000, The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (Clark) adopted an investment approach to grantmaking that focused on providing growth capital to youth-serving organizations with demonstrated commitments to evaluation and measurable outcomes. For grantees, the strategy meant larger, longer-term, unrestricted investments, complemented by extensive access to consulting and technical assistance to strengthen their organizations.This approach helped Clark grantees across the portfolio increase the numbers of youth they served (for example, by 18 percent between 2005 and 2006) and achieve annual revenue gains (averaging 19 percent over the four years prior to the founding of GCAP). At the same time, the Foundation concluded that more capital would be required if its grantees and other promising youth-serving organizations were to realize their ultimate scale and sustainability potential.

Reframing the Conversation: Expanding the Impact of Grantees: How Do We Build the Capacity of Nonprofits to Evaluate, Learn and Improve?

December 13, 2011

Outlines ways to boost nonprofit organizations' capacity to systematically collect, analyze, and learn from data, including helping link program goals to evaluation questions and underwriting the costs of new technology and evaluation skills training.

Reframing the Conversation: How Can Grantmakers Aggregate Resources to Grow Impact?

September 30, 2011

Outlines ways for grantmakers to provide nonprofit organizations with growth capital collaboratively, including through capital aggregation, pooled funding to intermediaries, and strategic co-funding, as well as organizational assistance beyond grants.

Reframing the Conversation: How Can Grantmakers Support Readiness to Scale Impact?

September 30, 2011

Outlines elements of success in supporting readiness to scale: assess with grantees the potential for growth as well as alternatives, engage in intensive learning via business planning to clarify strategic priorities, and provide non-financial assistance.

Reframing the Conversation: How Does Financial Sustainability Relate to Growth - and What Can Grantmakers Do to Support It?

September 30, 2011

Outlines what is needed for nonprofit financial sustainability. Suggests that grantmakers determine the type of support needed based on a financial analysis; provide sizable, predictable, and flexible funding; and once sustainable, provide growth capital.