From Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) Network News (Nov. 10, 2016):
BBBSA’s commitment to evidence-based programming has long made our organization a leader in the mentoring field. The Foundation Grants team at BBBSA has been working with top researchers in youth mentoring programs to analyze and refine our measurement instruments and to launch innovative programming to address the diverse needs of the youth we serve. Catch up on the Foundation Grants team’s two latest projects—PERL and an updated YOS—and learn which affiliates are helping to pilot these initiatives.
BBBSA’s Foundation Grants Department team would like to extend a special thank you to several affiliates for participating in two exciting research and innovation projects.
The first initiative, Promoting Enhanced Resilience and Learning (or PERL), has increased the capacity of the Big Brothers Big Sisters network to identify, understand, and support youth as individual learners. In this 2.5-year pilot, BBBSA worked with four pilot and four comparison affiliates and other external partners to design, pilot, and evaluate programmatic enhancements that helped us to promote resiliency and reduce adverse outcomes for every youth, especially those experiencing challenges related to learning differences. The PERL Project aims to not simply improve academic outcomes and resiliency for children, but to change the way Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies address the needs of our youth through structured partnerships with other service providers.
We could not have engaged in this work without the constant collaboration, feedback and support of our affiliates:
BBBS of the Midlands
BBBS of East Tennessee
BBBS of Greater Charlotte
BBBS Services, Inc. (Winston-Salem, NC)
BBBS of Middle Tennessee
BBBS of Puget Sound
BBBS of Miami
BBBS of Greater Cincinnati
We would also like to thank the Duke Endowment and the Oak Foundation for their investment in this project.
Our second project, made possible by funding from Annie E. Casey Foundation, focuses on revising our Youth Outcomes Survey (YOS) tool. The first phase of piloting could not have been accomplished without the diligent work of our three BBBS affiliates: Miami, New York City, and Harrisonburg-Rockingham County. All three have done an outstanding job in helping us evaluate this new YOS and providing feedback for our next phase of piloting.
The YOS was initially developed and released in 2009. As research in the field continues to advance, and new measures appear in the youth development literature, revising the tool has become a priority. The new pilot YOS tool is informed by a review of emerging literature, an analysis of our national YOS data, and other BBBS survey information. BBBSA has been working closely with youth mentoring experts to carefully design an improved tool to better capture changes in socio-emotional development, academics, and behavior over time among youth served in the program. The revisions made to this tool were aimed to strengthen the evidence of the positive work of BBBS and its impact on youth. Some existing YOS constructs were retained, but the measurements were revised and a number of new measurement areas were added to reflect advancements in the child and youth development field, as well as align with strategic planning.