Investment Profile

youthCONNECT

youthCONNECT provided nearly 22,000 youth with a range of services to help them become college and career ready.

Innovating for Success.

The investment began in 2010 and ended in 2015. youthCONNECT is now a model that VPP is adapting in locations throughout the Region. In fact, in 2015, VPP brought youthCONNECT to Suitland High School through our Ready for Work investment in Prince George’s County.

The youthCONNECT model is made up of high-performing nonprofits working collaboratively to serve vulnerable youth, ages 14-24, in a single location—like a school—in order to improve the following:

  • Education outcomes
  • Career outcomes
  • Healthy behaviors

Some benefits include:*

  • 9 in 10 youth applied for college, which is an important step for self-sufficiency.
    Leonard Shellman describes how College Summit gave him the confidence he needed to apply and get into college.
  • 8 in 10 youth completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)—enabling more youth to qualify for college scholarships, grants, and loans.
    Debbee Hernandez explains how the Latin American Youth Center helped her find scholarship money to pay for college.
  • 3/4 of youth obtained work experience—helping to prepare them for the workforce.
    Teyana Dorsey tells us how Year Up – NCR gave her the skills she needed to succeed in the workplace and the classroom.

* Data was collected from a subset of the total population served.

 

Collaboration is the Key

youthCONNECT represents the best in collaboration, putting innovative solutions into practice, measuring outcomes, and then creating a ripple effect by scaling and adapting  what works.

We know vulnerable youth are struggling to transition to a thriving adulthood. They are slipping through the cracks, and no single group can address this challenge alone.

Through countless brainstorming sessions, strategic discussions, and interactions with our six nonprofit partners (College Summit – NCR, KIPP DC, Latin American Youth Center, Whitman-Walker Health, Urban Alliance – NCR, and Year Up – NCR), Child Trends, Monitor Deloitte, and other friends and advisors, we catalyzed a collaborative of nonprofits in Greater Washington.

 

Funding

youthCONNECT was supported by a $32 million dollar investment. The money was a combination of the federal government’s Social Innovation Fund, VPP investment capital, and matching funds from philanthropic institutions and businesses.

“After rigorous nationwide competition, VPP was selected as a Social Innovation Fund grantee because of their long track record of innovative, smart investing. VPP is funding high-performing nonprofits that are helping young people succeed in school and gain the skills and confidence to attend college or find meaningful employment. Through the collaborative power of youthCONNECT, VPP will continue to drive impact and transform lives.”

Paul Carttar, Former Director, Social Innovation Fund, Corporation for National and Community Service

youthCONNECT would not be possible without the commitment of our match funders. They contributed $13 million to the total funds raised. Their support allowed us to dream big and get results. You can see the full list of match funders in Celebrating youthCONNECT: Innovating for Youth Success.

 

Evaluation

VPP is very fortunate to have Child Trends committed as its evaluation advisor and consultant for youthCONNECT. Child Trends is the nation’s only nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy center that studies children at all stages of development.

By putting resources towards supporting quality evaluations, the Social Innovation Fund increased the evaluation capacity of VPP and all of the nonprofit organizations that made up youthCONNECT.

Through youthCONNECT, each nonprofit implemented rigorous evaluations of its programs. These evaluations are underway. Most results will be available in 2017. As they become available, we will list them here:

 

Everyone Brought Something to the Table

youthCONNECT provided a mix of programs to help vulnerable youth transition from high school to successful adulthood. Each nonprofit contributed an innovative program to youthCONNECT:

  • College Summit – National Capital Region further grew its core services and evaluated and expanded its Launch model: a new curriculum based on developmentally appropriate activities and lessons targeted towards 9th through 11th graders. The investment allowed them to expand their college preparation and application program offerings to more than just 12th graders, thus treating all four years of high school as a launch pad to college.
  • KIPP DC wanted to serve more youth in the Region, and provide a model for other KIPP sites and schools that struggle to get their students across the college finish line. KIPP DC implemented and evaluated KIPP Through College, a program focused on comprehensive provisions to ensure that all KIPP alumni have the tools and support they need to succeed in college.
  • Latin American Youth Center expanded and evaluated Promotor Pathways, an intensive new case-management model for reconnecting youth. The youth served by Promotores include some of the District’s youth who are the most disconnected from educational or employment opportunities and face multiple barriers to success—including homelessness, lack of a high school diploma and involvement in the criminal justice system.
  • Urban Alliance created a model curriculum outreach program for high school and disconnected youth; formed a high-quality, experimental design study to confirm program objectives of high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates; grew the number of youth served by its high school internship program; and created an alumni services department.
  • Whitman-Walker Health (formally Metro TeenAIDS) expanded the number of youth who receive effective sexual education in Washington, DC by providing a sexual education curriculum to 7th through 12th graders, and by building the capacity of school staff to teach sexual education in public charter schools.
  • Year Up – NCR created the Healthy Behaviors Initiative. It was made up of various health education and access services. This includes a life skills curriculum focusing on domestic violence, nutrition, legal resources and working well with those in authority.

 

Five Nonprofits in One Place on a Mission

Key to developing the youthCONNECT model is a belief that the network’s coordinated support of a single population of students will yield more than the individual contributions of each network partner. This concept was tested in the Latin American Youth Center Career Academy Public Charter School, where five network partners worked in partnership with the school to support students. The multiple network partner programs delivered services in a single location at the Latin American Youth Center Career Academy Public Charter School. This coordination not only demonstrates that nonprofit partners can adapt their programs for various populations and locations, but also proves they can work collaboratively in one place.

 

Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts

youthCONNECT is organized around a series of working groups that developed the shared vision for the youthCONNECT model.

Over the years, a total of six working groups, based on role and function, worked together to shape and support the initiative:

  • Executive Directors
  • Program Directors
  • Evaluation Directors
  • Communications Staff
  • Chief Financial Officers
  • Development Staff

The groups have evolved over time. It is now commonplace for the program and evaluation working groups to solve problems, share best practices, collaborate, and leverage each other’s expertise. A periodic community of practice gatherings open to all staff, and orchestrated by VPP, provides an opportunity for network partners to come together to learn and deepen network relationships.

Under the guidance of Child Trends, the Common Outcomes Framework (COF) was created by the evaluation working group and VPP. The COF functions as youthCONNECT’s logic model. We use it to evaluate the effectiveness of youthCONNECT through a common set of indicators, which all of the nonprofits within youthCONNECT track as they progress towards youthCONNECT’s goals:

  • Attaining a post-secondary credential and/or employment
  • Sustained healthy behaviors across all six nonprofits within youthCONNECT

In order to reach the goals of the youthCONNECT initiative, our nonprofit partners agreed to:

  • Individually and collectively work toward a shared set of outcomes according to the metrics identified within the COF.
  • Help to build an open environment that supports the sharing of information, data and best practices to solve problems and strengthen program design, program delivery, and performance evaluation.
  • Leverage each other’s resources to ensure youth receive the support they need to become successful adults.

 

VPP’s Role in youthCONNECT

VPP provides the strategic assistance to strengthen and support youthCONNECT. Here is what we do:

  • Big Picture Guidance – Work together to develop a strategic agenda
  • Funding – Provide funding for the collaborative
  • Advocacy – Identify opportunities to educate leaders on policies affecting youth
  • Evaluation – Lead the development of shared outcomes against which the organizational partners’ activities are measured; Support data collection and assessment of each program’s performance
  • Meeting Facilitation – Guide meetings towards group consensus and action
  • Logistics – Support collaborative meetings by scheduling, setting agenda and capturing next steps
  • Communications – Manage and coordinate external communications
  • Research and Analysis – Support continuous learning by researching, aggregating and analyzing data to find trends and report back to organizational partners

 

Learning

VPP devotes considerable resources to share the lessons it has learned. We hope you find these resources useful to your work.