Youth Cluster Assessment Annual Report, Year 3

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Subtitle
Completed Evaluation
Publication Date
02/01/08
Program
Engaged Communities
Community
Akron

CLUSTER DESCRIPTION

Since 2001, Knight Foundation’s Community Partners Program has awarded more than $50 million to early childhood grants in 12 communities. These grants all seek to improve the lives of young children and their families, but specific funding priorities and strategies differ across communities. Some communities have focused more on improving parenting skills of parents, for example, while others have focused on extending the availability of high-quality early childhood education (e.g., child care centers, family child care homes, and preschool). Some communities have awarded grants to improve the mental or dental health of children.

ASSESSMENT PURPOSE & APPROACH

Key Questions

  • How can transformation be achieved in the early childhood field?

  • What are the lessons these Knight-funded projects suggest for operating, sustaining and evaluating effective early childhood programs?

Approach: This third and final report in a three-year evaluation focuses on the 47 grants that were active or that submitted final reports during 2007. It evaluates the overall transformational qualities of Knight’s multi-year investment in early childhood. Insights are based primarily on telephone interviews with program officers, grantees, and the external evaluators who are working with those grantees, and a review of written reports submitted by grantees during 2007.

This third and final report in a three-year evaluation considers such questions as:

  • How can transformation be achieved in the early childhood field?

  • What are the lessons these Knight-funded projects suggest for operating, sustaining and evaluating effective early childhood programs?

Assessment Partners: This report was produced by Deanna S. Gomby, Ph.D., and Lisa G. Klein, Ph.D., for Knight Foundation.

PROJECT FINDINGS

  • Notable Outcomes for Knight’s Transformational Grants – Increased levels of training and education among staff in preschool and child-care programs have improved quality care offered to children. Development of parenting skills, more confidence and greater levels of parent involvement have improved parenting. Improvements in early literacy skills and social and emotional development have greatly benefitted children. Increases in neighborhood cohesion, community involvement, and systems of services have positively impacted children and families.

  • Seven Lessons Learned – Funded services have to be the right services; Quality drives outcomes, but measuring quality is tricky; Program intensity and duration must match families’ needs; Success relies on ability to enroll and retain clients; Programs must respond to the increasing diversity of children; Public-private partnerships increase the likelihood of program sustainability; Evaluation matters.

About our Engaged Communities focus area

Knight invests in civic innovators who help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of engagement.

About our Grant Assessments methodology

As part of our grant making process, program teams work with grantees to establish indicators that will be tracked to provide feedback on project implementation and outcomes. In certain cases, we also partner with grantees to conduct in-depth third-party evaluations to understand the effectiveness and impact of specific projects.