United Way of Greater Chattanooga invited the Ready By 21 Challenge to Chattanooga as a way to invest resources and expertise in the success of local children and youth. It then convened a committee of area educators, schools, government agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide services for children and youth to look at the RB21 Challenge and decide how it could best work in this community.
The Quality Matters Pilot Project is part of the Ready By 21 challenge (RB21); it is specifically a work product of the RB21 “Out-of-School-Time” sub-committee. United Way is also supporting the Quality Matters Pilot Project and providing the tools it needs at no charge to the community as part of its focus on education and the Ready By 21 Challenge.
Why is United Way funding and facilitating this project? Why is it so important?
Well, when you realize that local children only spend 17% of their time in school, then that means they are spending 83% of their time out in the community.
But where are these children and youth going and what are they doing during their out-of-class time?
If we want area children and youth to be successful and we want to build an educational “success pipeline” for them from birth to age 21, it’s going to take more than just focusing on time spent in the classroom. There must be quality out-of-school-time programs for them to access if they are going to succeed in education and in life here at home.
The Quality Matters Pilot Project is designed to provide local out-of-school-time programs with the tools and resources needed to improve outcomes for children and youth. More specifically, this project will provide training and technical assistance through a Program Quality Assessment (PQA) tool which is a validated research instrument designed to evaluate the quality of youth programs and identify staff training needs. YPQA evaluates the quality of youth experiences as youth attend workshops and classes, complete group projects, and participate in meetings and regular program activities.
There are currently 305 Out-of-School-Time programs in our area, which are provided by the Hamilton County Department of Education, local churches, the City of Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Department, and various nonprofit agencies across our area.
Ready By 21’s Out-of-School-Time workgroup committee needed a way to look at these programs using research and evidence based tools that would give an indication of the quality of the programming. The committee decided to use the YQPA tool developed by theDavid P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality (A division of the Forum for Youth Investment) and the HighScope Educational Research Foundation.
The 17 sites chosen for this pilot program will work to assess their strengths and weaknesses, and develop a coaching and mentoring professional development improvement plan based on their identification of standards. Evaluation of their work will be assessed by external evaluators who are still to be determined.
Who is participating?
The Hamilton County Department of Education will have two schools participating, YMCA will have two sites participating, the City of Chattanooga Parks and Rec will have two or three sites participating, and the Boy Scouts will have two sites participating. The Ivy Academy (a charter school), ON Point, Goodwill, Girls Inc., Creative Discovery Museum, Individual Youth Services, and Northside Neighborhood House will each have one location participating in the pilot project.
If you would like to know how you can get involved in this process and help children and youth in our community, call Linda McReynolds, Senior Vice President of Community Impact, at 752-0304. For more information, you can visit our website atwww.liveunitedchattanooga.org/ReadyBy21.