Youthprise was founded in 2010 by the McKnight Foundation as an out of school time (OST) intermediary to increase the quality, accessibility, sustainability, and innovation of opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. Youthprise works collaboratively with municipalities, funders, policymakers, program providers, youth and parents to ensure that all Minnesota youth have access to affordable, quality learning opportunities during OST. In 2012, Youthprise approved $2.1 million in grants to 101 organizations in an effort to create a learning community that will advance the Minnesota OST field by coordinating efforts to improve program quality, explore innovative approaches to expand access to learning opportunities, promote racial equity in the OST field and mobilize Minnesota communities around a shared policy agenda for youth.
The YWCA of Minneapolis Strong Fast Fit is a culturally specific fitness and nutrition youth development program designed to reduce childhood obesity and type II diabetes in Latino and Native American youth.
Rainbow Research is working with the Strong Fast Fit program to support four core activities:
- Program curriculum documentation and expansion.
- An evaluation of the existing program and to establish processes for ongoing evaluation.
- Review of curricula focused on cultural specific healthy behaviors by a nutrition curriculum consultant.
- A community needs assessment to help determine a site for program expansion and partnerships.
Rainbow evaluated The Division of Indian Works (DIW) Tobacco-Free Communities (TFC) project entitled Mashkiki Ogichidaag (“Medicine Warriors”). The goal of TFC was to reduce youth tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure by creating tobacco-free environments. DIW utilized strategies and activities that engaged urban American Indian youth in a media campaign including: video production, screenings and presentations; production and posting of posters and flyers; and online petitions.
The evaluation determined the effectiveness of the media campaign with respect to:
- Increasing community awareness about the prevention of commercial tobacco use, reduction of commercial tobacco use, and reduction of exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Mobilizing the community to develop, monitor, and/or enforce formal and informal policies and/or systems changes that create tobacco-free environments.
- Developing the youth’s leadership and advocacy skills.
In cooperation with the United Way of Steele County, Minnesota, Rainbow Research is conducting a community assessment process with two goals:
- Identify the nature, extent and consequences of income, education and health disparities in Steele County and how/where these disparities intersect.
- Use disparities information gathered to design a collaborative, multi-sector, strategic initiative that results in the reduction of these disparities, their impact on the populations affected, and Steele County at large.
To conduct the assessment, Rainbow is using a mixed method approach including:
- Data and information secured in a literature review and/or extracted from on-line resources
- Interviews with key informants who as pastors, public officials, educators and service providers are familiar with the causes and consequences of these disparities
- Focus groups with low-income people, including members of the counties Latino and Somali communities.
- A community needs assessment survey conducted in online and paper formats with workers at sites throughout the county.
Honoring Choices Minnesota (HCM), a program of the Twin Cities Medical Society and its Foundation, encourages families and communities to have discussions regarding end-of-life care choices. Modeled after Gundersen Lutheran Health System’s nationally recognized Respecting Choices®, HCM has adapted its training, principles and methodology for use in Minnesota. HCM, with health professionals, educators and leaders from Minnesota’s diverse cultural communities, has developed culturally specific approaches to having these conversations respectful of each communities traditions and values around death and dying.
Rainbow Research, as HCM’s evaluation consultant, is helping them to:
- Survey health plans on their implementation of Honoring Choices.
- Inform HCM partners on evaluation approaches and methodology.
- Refine their logic model; identify appropriate indicators.
- Use data to tell their story.
Sponsored by Allina Health and the George Family Foundation, the Healthy Communities Partnership is a three-year, $6.5 million program to experiment with ways to improve health scores in 13 communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
Utilizing creative tools such as Ripple Effect Mapping, Social Network Analysis, and a Community Health Wellness Index, Rainbow’s evaluation will:
- Determine the extent to which the HCP program achieves its short-term and mid-term outcomes related to: improved health behaviors; increased collaboration between hospitals, providers, and local wellness resources; strengthened capacity in the health sector and community to affect participation in prevention and wellness programming; and, sustained effective interventions.
- Create a collaborative learning process for community-based leadership teams, AH and GFF to refine program activities throughout the program.
- Report findings and provide recommendations that AH can use to guide future community health and wellness decision making, and enable the GFF to provide information and insight to other grant makers supporting community-based work in the health sector.
- Identify key aspects of community collaborations and “promising practices” to share with the community health field and foundations.
Get Ready/GEAR UP education initiatives are a nationally recognized, evidence-based set of systemic and individualized strategies for low-income families to gain access to post-secondary education. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education was awarded the GEAR UP grant in 1999 to assist in the funding of the Get Ready program implemented by Minnesota schools that began in 1995.
Rainbow Research conducted an evaluation of the Get Ready curriculum for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education based upon:
- Review of the current Get Ready curriculum through direct observation, gaining input from program staff, participating students and teachers, and teachers implementing the program through Get Ready Outreach.
- Research of early college awareness and preparation themes and topics, identifying potential additional topics for inclusion in the revised curriculum, and incorporating themes and topics into the curriculum rewrite as deemed appropriate in consultation with the Get Ready curriculum team.
- Discussions facilitated with Get Ready staff around curriculum usage, how to tailor curriculum delivery for direct service and outreach programming to maximize student learning, and addressing urban education and English Language Learner (ELL) strategies for effective curriculum delivery.
People Incorporated is a St. Paul-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote and secure independence for people with mental illness so they may live hopeful and meaningful lives in the community.
Rainbow Research helped People Incorporated with their Parenting Project to create a comprehensive parenting education model for use throughout the agency.
To create this model, Rainbow assisted in convening an inter-divisional work group to collaborate on the model, and conducted focus groups with People Inc. clients to assess their needs. Rainbow also identified opportunities for collaboration in the field, which led to the development of a Cross-Sector Collaborative, an interdisciplinary group focused on local work around adult mental health issues.
The work group, with input from the Cross-Sector Collaborative, was successful in creating a parenting education model that had the support of divisional leaders, met the voiced needs of People Incorporated clients, and integrated evidence-based best practices.
The Juvenile Supervision Center (JSC) is a program designed to provide early intervention assistance to youth who are picked up in Hennepin County by law enforcement after committing an offense that does not meet the admission criteria of the Hennepin County Detention Center. The JSC operates under a Joint Powers Agreement between Hennepin County, the City of Minneapolis, and Minneapolis Public Schools.
The evaluation examined the operations and structure of the JSC, and provided the Workgroup and the Joint Powers Board with recommendations for serving this youth population beyond 2016. Rainbow’s project components included:
- Evaluating the current operational structure and Joint Powers agreement, making recommendations through a strategic planning process for serving this population of youth beyond 2016.
- Evaluating the operational structure of the JSC and to provide recommendations on whether the current model is the most effective way to provide services to youth brought to the Center.
- Determining if a service like JSC is needed within the continuum of youth prevention and intervention services to prevent further and more serious criminal involvement.
- Looking at ways to better align the work of the JSC with the goals and recommendations of the City of Minneapolis Youth Violence Prevention Blueprint, Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative and Minneapolis Public Schools Strategic Plan.
Association for Rural & Small Libraries Market Research
In summer 2012, The Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL), with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, initiated a market research effort to learn from the field of small and rural libraries across the United States about challenges facing libraries, how they might strengthen their services to that market, and expand their membership.
Rainbow Research and Lukas Consulting, in consultation with an ARSL advisory group, designed, piloted and conducted the market research, employing in-person and online focus groups with current members and nonmembers and an online survey of nonmembers, prospective members, and current members. Over 2,000 librarians from small communities across the U.S. responded.
At-Risk Youth Mentoring and Out-of-School Time Programs
On behalf of The Carlson Family Foundation, Rainbow Research is developing an outcome-focused reporting system for Foundation-supported mentoring and out-of-school time programs for at-risk youth experiencing academic difficulties. The system will assess the impact of Foundation investments.
Rainbow Research is identifying and developing tools for collecting and reporting uniform, consistent information. Grantees will be able to use these tools with minimal instruction and support, regardless of their experience in evaluation.
Rainbow will also train and coach foundation staff on collecting, analyzing and reporting data that grantees submit, employing the foundation’s acquired GIFTS grants management software.
The Fund for Children — Needs Assessment, Grants Evaluations
Rainbow Research assisted the foundation in:
- Determining current and emerging needs of Philadelphia youth aged 12 to 18 by engaging policy makers, business leaders, funders, youth and directors of agencies supported through the FFC.
- Evaluating the extent to which the funded organizations engaged youth in their programming.
- Evaluating the impact of the FFC’s current grant-making strategy on funded organizations and on youth.
In 2011, The Philadelphia Foundation contracted with Rainbow Research once again to determine what has been the impact of funding on the organizations that have received funding for OST programs, and the general welfare of Philadelphia children. Findings from this evaluation will help the FFC find ways to maximize the positive impact of its grant-making strategy in order to enhance life quality for Philadelphia children.
In both projects, youth from Philadelphia were recruited and trained by Rainbow staff to serve as focus group facilitators, providing stronger communication channels with participants and leadership opportunities for the youth. Rainbow collected data from foundation records, and conducted interviews with staff of funded programs, interviews with key informants on emerging needs and issues, and youth focus groups.
These projects helped the foundation to:
- Understand the existing and emerging needs of children from diverse populations.
- Build bridges across groups and communities.
- Build upon existing leadership and organizational capacity.
- Maximize the positive impact of future grant-making strategies.
- Identify prospective community leaders to serve on the community steering committee or in some other advisory capacity.
- Contextualize the FFC’s funding strategy and identify unmet needs by mapping the distribution of Philadelphia’s out of school time (OST) programs.