BOX 5–2 Community Impact!

Community Impact! was founded in 1990 to help low-income neighborhoods across Washington, DC, invest in their youth through neighborhood-based programs focused on youth development, entrepreneurship, and academic enrichment. The Association for the Study and Development of Community and Community IMPACT! (CI!) used a “utilization-focus” with three interdependent studies to evaluate CI! efforts, to examine research and practice as it relates to CI! strategies, and to assess CI!’s organizational capacity (Association for the Study and Development of Community, 2000).

The first study included personal interviews, archival data review, and evaluator observations. Data collection focused on nine domains of interest (1) community climate, cooperation, and participation; (2) leadership; (3) program legitimacy; (4) community awareness; (5) steering committee membership; (6) committee activities and empowerment; (7) resources and technical assistance/training; (8) financial and partnership management; and (9) financial resources.

The second study focused on providing knowledge and a new understanding of what “community” means to community members (adults and youth) and how youth leadership affects a community and its members. They conducted both adult and youth focus groups, administered a youth survey, and conducted a literature review.

The third study involved a questionnaire that asked program staff to evaluate the following six dimensions of their organizational structure: culture, leadership, systems and structures, communication of information, teams, and evaluation.

The institutional structure of programs can fundamentally affect the degree to which they address adolescent development, respond to local conditions, and provide appealing and safe settings. The Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development described youth programs through various categories (Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1992):

  • Private, nonprofit national youth organizations: There are a number of large national youth-serving organizations that have local franchises throughout the United States, and often internationally.

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