At Philadelphia Youth Basketball, we take pride in providing opportunities for our student-athletes to succeed in all areas of their lives. We are further motivated when we see our young people and their families share their positive experiences with our staff. Most of all, we revel in the chance to see our student-athletes continually push themselves to reach their potential as students, athletes, and positive leaders. These are the impacts that keep us energized as we move forward, striving everyday to be the best organization we can be to empower the youth of our city.
While these anecdotal successes may instill a sense of satisfaction in the programs PYB has built in the last 28 months, our dedicated cadre of coaches, academic mentors, and organizational staff are committed to continuous improvement. Our team is constantly reflecting upon and refining our approach to increase our impact in the lives of young people. We wonder how we can become smarter and more efficient. We strategize about how to ensure that we provide the best experience to every young person who participates in our programs.
In the past we have used primarily qualitative strategies to measure our impact, however we are now pushing ourselves to be more intentional with data collection and analysis for the betterment of our program, our organization, and most importantly, our young people.
During the 2017-18 Middle School Partnership Program (MSPP) we will continue to collect the same data that we have gathered in the past from our participating schools, including grades, attendance, and classroom conduct. Additionally we will be measuring aspects of a child’s development that relate to their sense of resiliency, educational and social competence, and self-efficacy; all of which are skills that have been proven to directly correlate with educational success. Taking stock of this information, along with our continued tracking of attendance, grades, and conduct will help us better understand the nature of the change we are driving. Emphasizing this more quantitative view of our program will enable us to constantly enhance our programmatic approach.
The benefit of data collection lies mainly in the ability to identify trends. For instance, in a sample size of 8 schools, if 7 schools have students that indicate an improvement in their sense of literary competency, then we can evaluate best practices to determine how to improve our delivery in the outlier school. Recognizing these areas of success and opportunities for improvement is key for the betterment of our programming.
Another important way data collection and analysis improves programmatic output is by communicating with potential public and private supporters the form and depth of the difference in impact we are having on young people. While we are conscious not to fall victim to the proverbial “tail wagging the dog,” in the realm of nonprofit funding it is critical to have data to support all claims of positive impact in youth development organizations. The ability for PYB to point to valid, reliable evidence of the change we’re making in the lives of our student-athletes can make or break our chances at securing funding to continue to enhance our programs.
In short, the heart of our organization has always been, and will continue to be, the empowerment of as many young people in our city as possible to reach their potential as students, athletes, and positive leaders. Our increased focus on data collection this fall is another stride forward in that perpetual endeavor.
By Peter Kaffenberger, Program Impact Analyst