Minneapolis YWCA

The Minneapolis YWCA offers programming for adults around health and fitness, in addition to having the Lake Street facility where individuals can use the open gym, swim, take fitness classes, and work out. YWCA also offers youth programs that focus on physical fitness and nutrition, leadership, academic support, girls and cultural specific programming, and sexual health. Minneapolis Community Education is a component of Minneapolis Public Schools. They also provide a variety of educational programming for adults and youth, including professional skills and trainings, and classes promoting language skills, arts and physical fitness activities, youth leadership and enrichment activities usually located at schools and other community locations.

Rainbow Research has a long and rich partnership with the Minneapolis YWCA. Here are a few highlights from various evaluation projects:

YWCA Girls and Youth Development Alumni Follow-up Study, 2016 to Present.

Rainbow Research is conducting a follow-up study with over 200 young adults who participated in the YWCA Minneapolis programs as youth to gather participate feedback and quantify self-perceptions of impact at the time and as an adult of participation.

YWCA Minneapolis Girls and Youth Development (GYD) Evaluation Capacity Building, 2016 to Present.

The GYD unit of the Minneapolis YWCA serves over 1500 young people through several core programs including Girls, Inc., Beacons, Girls RAP, Strong Fast Fit and Healthy Life Choices. Each program in GYD has its own set of funders and their requisite evaluation requirements (e.g., desired outcomes, evaluation tools and methods for collecting evaluative data, and reporting parameters). To support GYD’s continuous improvement, Rainbow Research is working with all of the GYD programs to build their capacity and the processes to ensure they are finding answers to questions that are meaningful both to their funders and to them as program leaders and staff. Rainbow Research is designing an evaluation system to meet the needs across all GYD program areas through an efficient system for collecting and using evaluation data, and ways to tell the story of each unique program and the GYD unit as a whole. This includes ensuring that all programs within the department have useful formative and summative evaluations, solid logic models, evaluation plans, and info-graphics to tell their story.

Conversations with East African Community Members: Feedback for Program Development, 2016.

The 21ST Century Midtown Community Learning Council consisting of the Minneapolis YWCA and Minneapolis Community Education identified an opportunity to better serve Muslim East African community members through current or new program offerings.  Rainbow Research conducted community member interviews and focus groups in Somali and English to gather information from community members, both youth and adults, to inform the Council about how they could better serve this community. 52 East African community members ages 11-54 participated.

Rainbow Research implemented a needs and opportunity assessment focused on the following questions:

  1. What are the current barriers to YWCA and MCE program participation as experienced by East African youth and adults?
  2. What additional community assets would East African community residents like to see provided by the YWCA and MCE?
  3. What can be done to improve current program offerings? And,
  4. What is the best way to market and communicate program offerings with East African community members?

Key recommendations included suggestions to improve program offerings (ie. classes and services) as well as recommendations to make existing spaces and programming more welcoming and inclusive.

Uniquely Rainbow Research: Participatory Youth Development

Rainbow Research understands positive strength-based healthy youth development and the relationships between healthy youth development and healthy community development. Rainbow Research has a long tradition of participatory approaches to evaluation, including working with young people as researchers and evaluators to create change. As part of Rainbow’s equity commitment, we hire and train young evaluation interns of color; high school and college student interns played important roles in evaluation design, data collection, and crafting final recommendations in many of these projects.