Social Innovation Fund 2012
Youthprise is a Minnesota-based grantmaking intermediary founded by the McKnight Foundation that manages a $4.2 million annual grantmaking portfolio. A geographically-based Social Innovation Fund (SIF), Youthprise will address the Youth Development focus area. Within this general focus, Youthprise will target low-income, at-risk and "opportunity youth." "Opportunity youth are disproportionately male and from minority groups, but substantial rates are found for all youth groups." (Belfield et al., 2012). We will focus specifically on improving measurable outcomes among this population in the areas of academic achievement, juvenile justice and workforce readiness/participation. In carrying out the research, technical assistance and evaluation components of this project, Youthprise will partner with Search Institute, an independent, non-profit organization that conducts high-quality research and evaluation. Other identified technical assistance providers will assist with strengthening subgrantee's capacity to meet match requirements and sustain program models beyond federal match support. Youthprise is requesting funding of approximately $1 million annually for a period of five years, for a total of $5 million. Youthprise will apply funds from a recent appropriation from the McKnight Foundation to meet the Corporation for National Community Services' (CNCS) one-to-one match requirement. At the time of application, Youthprise has the required 50% of match in the form of cash on hand. Match verification has been sent to CNCS via email. A five-year geographically-based Social Innovation Fund (SIF), Youthprise will address the Youth Development focus area. Within this general focus, we will identify promising subgrantee program models addressing key issues and disparities that impact low-income, at-risk youth. We will proactively seek to identify program models targeting "opportunity youth." A subset of at-risk youth, these young people are the "underserved among the underserved" in youth development and within the philanthropic community. Furthermore, "opportunity youth" are least likely to be engaged in experiences that recognize and build their assets to support a thriving adolescence and facilitate their adult independence. Their common path is the school-to-prison pipeline, which places a significant economic burden on the youth themselves, their families, the community, taxpayers and ultimately, our progressive economic growth. Through a competitive process, Youthprise will identify promising subgrantee models that operate from an asset-based perspective; build youth's leadership and 21st Century Skills and have shown at least preliminary evidence in addressing outcomes related to academic achievement, juvenile justice and workforce readiness/participation. Subgrantee models will be charged with: 1) expanding models so more at-risk youth benefit; 2) increasing retention so participating youth get the "dosage" needed to produce stronger outcomes; and 3) increasing the level of evidence relative to their model being effective in meeting target outcomes. To ensure the growth and achievement of at least moderate levels of evidence at the end of the five-year SIF grant period, Youthprise, in partnership with Search Institute, will enrich promising models by delivering training, providing technical assistance and facilitating peer learning opportunities focused on proven strategies related to positive youth development. These include asset building, youth engagement, and continuous quality improvement. We will use research validated instruments to track progress and make data informed program adaptations to strengthen models in Years 1 and 2. Years 3 through 5 will involve a longitudinal quasi-experimental study to evaluate evidence of effectiveness. Additionally, central to our model is the focus on engaging young people and their diverse communities in the design, implementation and evaluation of the intervention models that impact their lives. Too often, communities and youth most impacted are excluded from the decision making process which does not aid in facilitating strong outcomes. This issue is exacerbated by the harsh reality that those most impacted, who disproportionally represent communities of color, often feel minimized, marginalized and disenfranchised by the very programs and systems that seek to address their various life challenges.