Data for Impact: Strategies

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To accomplish the Data for Impact Initiative‘s goals, we’ve identified four strategies that, together, build a base of practices to support OYF communities on their data journey.

1. Grantmaking

3. Assessment and Measurement

2. Technical Assistance, Learning and Dissemination

4. Policy and Advocacy

1. Grantmaking

As a national network, grantmaking enables us to continue our commitment to improved youth outcomes by working with a select number of collaboratives to build out dramatically improved data capacity at both the community and partner level. The lessons learned from these select collaboratives shed light on emerging needs of our collaboratives, highlight best practices and inform our network-wide technical assistance.

We have adapted an equity-focused grantmaking strategy to advance the data capacity of all communities regardless of size, location or existing capacity. To date, we have issued two types of grants to a total of eight communities to support their data journey.

Systems Improvement Grant

This funding opportunity has two primary goals:

  • Increase collaborative data capacity, especially the use of data to drive equity and improvement, per one or more of the Data Use Framework elements.
  • Significantly improve at least one youth-level OY outcome in alignment with the OYF Common Measures, within 4 years.

The three Systems Improvement Grantees are:

  • The Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative(OYC), which will engage their largest institutional partners, Boston Public Schools (BPS) and Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC), in a data capacity and analysis project to provide system-level and continuous improvement data to reduce high school and postsecondary disconnection rates.
  • The Philadelphia Youth Network, Inc. (PYN), on behalf of Project U-Turn, will work with partners to expand its data tracking and reporting capacity to accelerate citywide efforts to reduce Philadelphia’s community disconnection rate.
  • The Community Center for Education Results (Seattle/South King County, Washington) through their collaborative, the Road Map Project, will support the development of data-driven continuous improvement capacity within reengagement programs in order to improve student outcomes and close gaps in their opportunity youth work.

Read more about each System Improvement Grant community’s project.

Rural and Native, Indigenous, and Tribal Data Enhancement Grants

Rural and native, indigenous, and tribal communities face significant challenges to build and maintain the data capacity needed to inform better strategies to meet their communities’ needs. This grant supports rural and native, indigenous, and tribal communities to deepen their capacity to collect and analyze data reflective of their communities that will expand their ability to generate accurate, reliable information to advance equity and continuous improvement.

The Data Enhancement grantees are:

  • Hopi Opportunity Youth Initiative’s (The Hopi Foundation) project will build on their Equity Counts work by implementing the components of their Data Capacity Building plan, such as launch of a Data Intern Initiative and implementation of scale appropriate data collection tools for each workforce partner.
  • Del Norte County & Tribal Lands’ project aims to improve its staff and partners’ capacity to collect and use data to drive decision-making. Having reliable data will improve the community’s capacity to better understand the existing data and identify other new data to drive community-level changes to improve access to employment and education for opportunity youth.
  • Deep East Texas College & Career Academy (DETCCA) is focused on improving their capacity to capture and utilize accurate and reliable data will allow DETCCA to better serve our community and increase our collaborative capacity.
  • Rural LISC is focused on growing their evaluation skills to provide culturally responsive assessments; developmental, formative, and summative analysis; mixed-methods data collection and program and portfolio evaluation.
  • EmpowerMT aims to develop a tailored evaluation for our Opportunity Youth programming that will include a Montana Opportunity Youth Civic Convening that will bring together youth from across Montana’s rural communities to increase opportunity and engagement for Montana’s Opportunity Youth.

2. Technical Assistance, Learning and Dissemination

The Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF) data technical assistance supports OYF communities to deepen their capacity to define program and goals, identify measures, design and implement data collection strategies, analyze and interpret data, use data, and build and sustain a culturally responsive data culture.

OYF offers a two-prong technical assistance (TA) approach:

  • Responsive Technical Assistance: This collaborative driven approach has collaboratives initiating the technical assistance to address a need or gap in their data capacity. The first and critical step in responding to the technical assistance requests is to work with the collaborative to define the needs to better understand the factors that promote or support the need and the context within which the collaborative operates.

Partnership is crucial in our technical assistance approach to ensure that our technical assistance response is culturally and context appropriate to the collaborative. Therefore, the technical assistance providers in consultation with the collaborative identify technical assistance strategies/activities with a timeline to address the need(s) of the collaborative and expected outcomes of the engagement.

  • Proactive Technical Assistance: This approach generates technical assistance activities in response to the priorities of the network (e.g., Target Setting – see below). These technical assistance activities are delivered in group formats to enhance our collaboratives’ capacity to accomplish a specific network goal and to foster peer to peer learning. Follow-up individualized sessions are scheduled as needed per the request of the collaborative.

To honor the culture and unique needs of our rural and native, indigenous, and tribal collaboratives, our OYF data technical assistance approach has culturally responsive strategies to support their data journey. These culturally responsive strategies are co-developed with our OYF rural, and native, indigenous, and tribal communities to prioritize enhancing the data capacity and infrastructure of our collaboratives in achieving data sovereignty, improving data culture, and demonstrating their impact.

3. Assessment and Measurement

Our Data for Impact Initiative is directly tied into our overall OYF Impact Assessment and Evaluation approach. The D4I strategy utilizes three tools – OYF Common Measures, OY Outcomes Target Setting, and OYF Annual Assessment – to determine progress of the network and its collaboratives.

OYF Common Measures

Our commitment to measurable outcomes is woven into the fabric of who we are as a network. With the development of the OYF Common Measures, we can measure the overall opportunity youth disconnection rate; and the disconnection rates for high school, post-secondary and workforce annually at the population level using the American Community Survey, conducted annually by the US Census Bureau. The OYF Common Measures give each community a unique annual look into their OY data, specific to the geographic area for their collaborative. The data breaks down the numbers of OY into four different segments, and further disaggregates youth in each segment by race, age, gender and other important demographic variables.

The segments are:

  • Overall community disconnection rate: The rate of young people disconnected from work and school (i.e., opportunity youth).
  • High school disconnection rate: The rate of young people without a high school diploma/GED and not working who are disconnected from high school.
  • Postsecondary disconnection rate: The rate of young people with a high school diploma/GED, without a postsecondary credential who are disconnected from postsecondary education and not working.
  • Workforce disconnection rate: The rate of young people with a postsecondary credential, but not enrolled in postsecondary, who are disconnected from the workforce.

The best available data source for the OYF Common Measures is the American Community Survey which is 1) an accurate count; 2) consistent across communities and time; and 3) feasible to collect.

OY Outcomes Target Setting

To realize the full potential of the OYF Common Measures, each OYF community is encouraged to set targets to foster transparency and accountability that drives improvement of OY outcomes at the community and network levels. Given how different each OYF communities is, translating each community’s goals into targets against a common set of metrics makes it easier to manage how we track progress and to communicate success and lessons learned with the field. Further, having targets helps collaboratives and their partners identify where to focus their efforts and to measure their progress in improving opportunity youth outcomes.

Additionally, targets help:

  • Provide a clear sense of what each community is aiming for.
  • Drive improvement by prioritizing the areas that determine success and great impact for the Opportunity Youth.
  • Help understand where you are now, what you are trying to achieve and areas that need improvement to achieve the target(s).
  • Foster a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Examine the levers of changes to proactively improve engagement with OY.
  • Encourages the partners in the collaborative to align their activities and to work more intentionally towards known targets.

A technical assistance partner to OYF, Standpoint Consulting, developed the Pathway to Results Framework (below) and a Target Setting Guide to provide collaboratives with a roadmap to set targets and how to map their program level and community level to the OYF Common Measures. Additionally, our technical assistance providers work 1-1 with collaboratives to set targets, and to coach backbones to engage their collaborative partners in discussing data and strategy.

Pathway to Results Framework

OYF Annual Assessment

Additionally, our independent evaluators, Equal Measure, conduct annual self-assessments of our communities to help them track their progress in the following three areas:

  • Systems Change: This area assesses the impact of collaboratives at producing changes within local systems. The seven indicators of systems change are public policy change, public funding, private funding, funder alignment, data, communications, public will-building, and OY narrative change, and pathway improvements.
  • Collaborative Capacity: This area assesses the health and capacity of the collaborative. The four indicators of healthy collaborative capacity are leadership, planning, and convening power, data and learning, raising awareness and strategic communication, and resources for the collaborative
  • Core Values: The work of OYF is founded on an approach that prioritizes equity and engagement. The three indicators related to practices of the collaborative are equity, youth led change, and community power building.

The OYF Annual Self-Assessment results is shared annually with each community in a dashboard format, that shows their data compared to the OYF network average, as well as compared to a peer group of similar collaboratives. This information is used by collaboratives to inform programmatic foci, policy change efforts, and more.

More about our annual assessment efforts, and individual annual reports can be found here.

4. Policy and Advocacy

Effective policy and advocacy enables our communities to achieve sustainable impact for the greatest number of opportunity youth. Thus, in addition to supporting communities scale reconnection pathways to improve education and employment outcomes for opportunity youth, we also partner with our communities to develop a policy and advocacy agenda to influence decision-and policy makers.