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Real-time data dashboard at Year Up Providence
By Katie Murray / November 8, 2017 /   Loading Disqus...

Over the next several months we will focus on different ways that Rhode Island Foundation partners approach performance management and evaluation. In doing so we want to highlight practices that lend themselves to impact, share lessons learned, and illustrate some of the commonalities and differences across organizations and sectors.

We start with Year Up Providence, an active nonprofit in the workforce development sector in Rhode Island since 2005 and a partner in the Rhode Island Foundation’s funding portfolio for many of those years.

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Year Up supports low-income young adults as they move from poverty to professional careers in a single year. The first half of the year consists of training, skills development, and coursework as a cohort. Students then complete a six-month corporate internship. Year Up is closing what they call the “Opportunity Divide” – between the 6 million young adults in the United States who are disconnected from stable career pathways and the 12 million jobs that require post-secondary education and are slated to go unfilled over the next decade. 

Year Up started in Boston in 2000 and Providence was the first expansion site. Providence is now one of 20 Year Up programs around the country and has assisted nearly 1,000 Rhode Island program graduates since 2005. Each of these 1,000 individuals has a compelling story of accomplishment and hope.

These stories are supported by evidence-informed programming and an organizational commitment – first and foremost – to strong participant outcomes. Since founding, Year Up has been outcomes driven and holds itself accountable at every level of the organization. This commitment is evidenced through regular tracking, analysis, and reflection on key quantitative measures. The measures, referred to as RADIO (Retention, Admissions, Development, Internships, Outcomes), are tracked across all Year Up sites in a shared data system.

Retention is measured as annual program graduation and is monitored weekly. Program leaders strive for, and routinely exceed, 85% completion of the initial six-month learning phase. Year Up Providence has far exceeded that goal with the current cohort with 98% of students completing the training phase moving into corporate internships.

Admissions is the number of students who begin each cohort. Year Up Providence currently accepts 160 participants annually in two cohorts. Prior to 2012, cohorts consisted of 40 participants. The decision was made to double the number of trainees in response to community need and increased demand from corporate partners. Since the expansion, Year Up Providence has successfully exceeded cohort retention and outcomes goals.

Development activities captured in the dashboard are those that focus on direct fundraising to support the annual budget. The remainder of the budget is supported by corporate partnerships.

Internships corresponds to the number of corporate placements available for each cohort. The metric correlates with admissions and is influenced by partner satisfaction, which averages 90% annually in supervisor satisfaction surveys. Ninety percent (90%) of corporate partners renew each year.

Outcomes is the percentage of cohort graduates who meet Year Up’s definition of a positive result after graduation. Specifically, this translates to how many graduates are either working full-time in positions that pay at least $16 per hour or are enrolled in college full-time four months after completing the program. Year Up Providence averages 85% positive outcomes among their graduates and is a national leader in post-graduation placement.

While these data points are compelling in themselves, they are made more so by the fact that leaders keep them front and center. Year Up Providence Executive Director Cathy Doyle maintains a simple white board version of the RADIO dashboard in her office, updating it regularly so she has an at-a-glance reminder of targets and progress. A similar dashboard resides in the common area and is accessible by staff and students alike. Staff also access the dashboard at login to the data system, and Doyle sends weekly emails with RADIO updates and highlights of the week’s wins and challenges. These combined efforts ensure that every team member is aware of progress against goals.

Year Up’s commitment to strong outcomes doesn’t stop four months after graduation. The organization now routinely tracks student outcomes one-year after graduation, has implemented a national evaluation to study outcomes after five years, and puts great effort into alumni support a decade or more after program completion. Year Up Professional Resources (YUPRO) is a newly-established Public Benefit Corporation that exists to support the more than 5,000 alumni nationally who have graduated. As a Year Up project, this ambitious new effort is also outcomes-driven and will undoubtedly yield important evidence-informed lessons that will be valuable for partners nationally and locally. We look forward to continuing to learn both with and from Year Up and helping to share their stories of impact.

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