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Blog

Involving Youth in Your Evaluation

  Evaluating your organization, its services and impact is fundamental to create sustainable and transformational change in your community.  Where is your organization in the process of evaluation?  Has your organization included youth, or another stakeholder group, in the evaluation process?  How did you use their input to inform decision-making? The Minnesota Youth Work Institute recently held a symposium on Putting Youth Participatory Evaluation into Action: Lessons Learned and Innovations.  In this presentation, Professor Katie Richards-Schuster, assistant research scientist in the Michigan Youth and Community Program at the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work, shared lessons and innovations from Detroit, Michigan and other cities utilizing youth participatory evaluation, and the implications of this evaluative practice in local communities and the field

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2013 Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) Grant Competition

  The U.S. Department of Education announced the start of the $150 million 2013 Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competition.   The i3 program aims to develop and expand practices that accelerate student achievement and prepare every student to succeed in college and in their careers. The i3 program includes three grant categories: Development Validation Scale-up The first iteration of applications is for the Development grant category, which funds grantees with promising but relatively untested ideas.  The deadline for the pre-application is April 26, 2013.  Selected applicants will be invited to apply for the Development competition and complete their full application. The Department plans to announce applications for the Validation and Scale-up categories later this spring. This year’s priorities for the

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New Competition with Head Start Providers

  The Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is working to strengthen quality and accountability in Head Start.  For the first time ever, Head Start providers had to prove that they are providing the best early education services available in their community.  A new rule implemented by the Obama Administration require that all lower-performing Head Start grantees that fail to meet a new set of rigorous benchmarks to re-compete for continued federal funding. “It is our duty to ensure our nation’s federal dollars are only invested in the most effective programs – and that our children receive the best early education possible – in every community,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Under the reform,

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5 Lessons Learned about Student Success

Union City, New Jersey, an urban city just across the Hudson from Manhattan, has done the unthinkable.  They went from having one of the worst school districts in the state to competing with the best. What was their success? Professor David L. Kirp reveals in Improbable Scholars how a poor urban school district has 90 percent of its students (majority are Latino immigrants) graduate from high school, which is 10 percent more than the nationwide average, and 75 percent of them enroll in college. He not only chronicles their success but also includes recommendations for implementation in other communities whether you are urban, suburban or rural. 5 Lessons Learned: Create and Follow a Long-Term Plan: The school district committed to

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New Tool to Find Evidence-Based Programs

There’s a NEW TOOL for schools, government agencies and community-based organizations to help identify and fund scientifically proven programs with a track record of promoting children’s health and development. A new interactive website called Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development makes it easy to select cost-effective programs, based on scientific evaluations of those programs that show strong evidence of positive effects on youth development. Blueprints also provides critical information about the staff, training and financial resources organizations often need to include when applying for federal and state grants, developing school improvement plans or seeking funding for community initiatives. Easy-to-use search features allow users to identify programs by outcome, the positive and negative influences that predict those outcomes, population or program type. 

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Where is Your Governing Board in Its Life Cycle?

  All organizations go through different life cycles.  Where does your organization fall in the life cycles described below? Stage One: The Organizing Board Organizing boards tend to be one of two types, boards that follow a leader/founder and boards that lead or control an organization. Leading boards tend to be small, are often slow to hire staff, and reluctant to give up their immediate involvement in the organization. The transition stages for the organizing board are often marked by: – financial problems – board/staff struggles – new board members with differing expectations and motivations – less passivity to the founder/leader’s agenda – less personal identification with the organization and its mission Stage Two: The Governing Board In this stage,

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New Grant Opportunity to Support Early Childhood

  The federal Health Resources and Services Administration will provide an estimated $7.8 million through its “Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems: Building Health Through Integration” grant program. Eligible applicants include State governments, County governments, City or township governments and Nonprofits. Grants will go to proposals that: Improve healthy physical, social and emotional development during infancy and early childhood; Eliminate disparities; and Increase access to or improve the quality of early childhood programs. Applications are due April 26, 2013. More information is available here. Contact us for a consultation about this grant opportunity or other fund development needs.    

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New Grant Opportunity for Community Revitalization Programs

  Choice Neighborhoods support comprehensive community revitalization by focusing on housing, people and neighborhoods. Planning grants of up to $500,000 are available to Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), local governments, nonprofits, and for-profit developers that apply jointly. Grantees are asked to develop a Transformation Plan to guide the revitalization of public and/or assisted housing units and the transformation of the surrounding neighborhood and positive outcomes for families. Applications are due May 28, 2013.  The Notice of Funding Availability and application package from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are available here. Transform Consulting Group is available to support your efforts at all levels to strategize, develop, edit and submit successful grant proposals: Create a comprehensive fund development plan. Develop

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New Partnership with AmeriCorps to Support School Turnaround

  At the end of February, the U.S. Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced a new competitive AmeriCorps grant program to support school turnaround efforts. It will provide $15 million in public funds over three years to reinforce and accelerate intervention efforts in the nation’s lowest-performing schools. The new School Turnaround AmeriCorps program will support AmeriCorps members placed in persistently underachieving schools. Through this collaborative effort, they seek to increase student academic achievement, attendance and high school graduation rates, and college and career readiness in those schools. An initial investment of $15 million will support three years of the program. The School Turnaround AmeriCorps program will target the schools participating in the federal

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Begin with the End in Mind

  I am sure that you have heard of the quote by Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to know when you get there?” Why begin with the end in mind? Spending some time to think about your long-term goals – what you hope to accomplish in three, five or ten years – will pay off exponentially in the impact that you will have. While your leadership team and board members can often be eager to jump right into program and strategy development, a results-setting process helps organizations be more deliberate and strategic moving forward. When we talk about results, we are talking about the change that your organization wants to make

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