«An introduction to the Valley Settlement Project dual generation model for improving the lives of children and adults living in poverty. July 2014 Elaine ...»
With funding from the Valley Settlement Project, Access Roaring Fork implemented the afterschool program in two elementary schools to help 120 low performing children with academic enrichment activities for two extra hours of support per day, three days per week throughout the school year.
Free transportation home at the end of the day is provided, removing another significant barrier for many families. After careful review, this program will not be continued next school year as it does not provide opportunity for in-depth contact with parents. Parent engagement is a core component of the dual generation approach used by Valley Settlement Project across the board.
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7) Parent Mentors Community Organizers and Neighborhood Navigators encourage interested parents to interview for the one week training course to become a “Parent Mentor” and provide teaching support in an elementary school classroom. On completion of this training, Parent Mentors are assigned to a classroom to volunteer for two hours per day, four days per week. On the fifth day of each week, the Parent Mentors receive two hours of personal and professional development.
Twenty one Parent Mentors were working in the classrooms at two elementary schools in 2012. The program expanded to 41 parents in classrooms in five schools in the second year. There is a huge demand from teachers for this program to significantly expand in the next school year. Over 10,000 student contact hours have been provided by the Parent Mentors since inception in October 2012.
The benefits of having Parent Mentors in the schools extend well beyond the tremendous daily support they provide the classroom teachers. Parent Mentor’s own children respond with improved academic achievement when their parents are present and involved in the school.
8) Adult Education Adult education is desperately needed in this low income, immigrant community. Recognizing that self reported education levels may likely be exaggerated, of those interviewed, 25% reported having less than a 6th grade education and only 19% reported having completed 6th grade. Sadly, many of these adults are still functionally illiterate in their native language. The interviews showed 82% were interested in computer training and 62% wanted to study English. The interviews also revealed the barriers to accessing the knowledge desired were virtually impossible for low income adults to overcome without a change in the way adult education programs is offered.
Valley Settlement Project has found that a large proportion of those interested in adult education classes don't possess the most basic literacy skills in their native language to allow them to enroll in the lowest level remedial classes at Colorado Mountain College. Valley Settlement Project is providing basic language and math classes taught in Spanish to 30 adults. Curriculum was developed collaboratively by faculty from Roaring Fork School District and Parent Mentors. Parents are actively engaged in improving their own education and learning how to help their own children with homework. Parents are also positioning themselves to qualify for English classes through the local community college.
Through Valley Settlement Project’s approach, three levels of English classes for three semesters were taken by 60 men and women during the first year. In June 2012, 20 more adults enrolled in a GED prep class being offered in Spanish. Three sessions with two levels of computer classes have been offered in Spanish at the local elementary school and approximately 50 adults participated.
The Manaus Fund Page 9 EVALUATION The Valley Settlement Project Evaluation Plan (April 2013) and Summary Outcomes reports (June 2013 and March 2014) available on request.
Valley Settlement Project overall evaluation approach is rooted in a behavior change theory by which individuals who engage in the programming have increased knowledge, reduced external barriers and increased community support. These increases lead to more confidence in abilities to better connect with community services and higher levels of family empowerment, providing them with realistic outcome expectations. Together these factors ignite a chain reaction where the creation of new goals leads to behavior intention; this intention leads to actual behavior change which ultimately results in positive outcomes (improved well-being). Valley Settlement Project’s behavior change theory is based on previously validated Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 1986) and Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991).
Valley Settlement Project measures outcomes using data collected during pre and post surveys. The newly created surveys include yes/no, likert and open-ended questions to obtain comprehensive
information. The programs fall into three main areas:
1) Community Engagement, 2) School Readiness and Success, and 3) Family Economic Stability.
The immediate short-term outcomes for community engagement are increased participant empowerment, engaging in goal setting and connection with local agencies and resources. Family economic stability includes obtaining of a new skill, GED preparation or continuing education and improvement in self-confidence. School readiness includes progression on GOLD assessment and increased capacity and quality of informal childcare providers. Short-term goals for all participants include increased engagement within schools and community. These increases are expected at the immediate post program assessment.
The long term outcomes expected from the community area are upward mobility and leadership and families connecting directly with agencies. Long-term family economic outcomes include improved living situation, job stability, English and literacy skills and employment opportunities. School readiness and success long-term outcomes include increased parent involvement, school readiness and success. Long-term goals for all participants include utilizing new community resources, maintaining positive behavior change and continuing to work on personal goals.
In addition to outstanding anecdotal evidence of initial program success, preliminary evaluation data collected through the Valley Settlement Project surveys and the school district has revealed academic growth gains that are included in the Summary report attached.
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COLLABORATIONOf the dozens of active community partnerships, The Valley Settlement Project’s most important community partner is the Roaring Fork School District which has integrated the Valley Settlement Project into twenty-one classrooms throughout two schools. The Parent Mentors have provided 3,850 hours of student contact time in the first year and over 10,000 hours to date.
The Roaring Fork School District and the Roaring Fork Rapid Transit Authority have each donated a retired bus for the mobile preschool. The School District provides fuel, maintenance, and insurance for the buses with an in-kind value estimated at over $25,000. Operating with the first bus alone, enabled Valley Settlement Project to provide 650 contact hours of quality early childhood education to those who need it most. Additionally, the School District is working with the Valley Settlement staff to implement the evaluation methodology and analyze the education outcomes of the students receiving traditional classroom preschool instruction compared to those receiving instruction on El Busesito. The Community Organizers have worked with local public agency service providers and nonprofit organizations to ensure there is no duplication in programs and that families get connected to the existing programs and services they need. Partnerships include Roaring Fork Family Resource Center, Mountain Family Health and the Family Visitor Program.
Social justice is at the heart of the Manaus Fund. The Manaus Fund strives to build a partnership of diverse equals, never assuming that it knows what others need without asking. This is evidenced by the extensive listening, community conversations and planning prior to implementing the Valley Settlement Project. Field staff are bi-lingual and bi-cultural. The community organizing approach to planning and programming reinforces the potential for accomplishments of the families they work with, deliberately avoiding a cycle of dependency. The Industrial Areas Foundation Iron Rule guides the Manaus Fund to “Never do for others what they can do for themselves. Never.” BOARD/GOVERNANCE The original board members were invited by founder George Stranahan in 2005 to create a small band of deeply experienced, socially minded investors. Their goal was to transform the mindset of scarcity among nonprofit organizations to one of plenty through developing earned income entrepreneurial ventures. Rob Pew joined the board in 2008 and accepted the role of board president in 2012. Elaine Gantz Berman joined the board in early 2013. All board members contribute financially to the organization on an annual basis and each plays an active role in supporting staff as mentors, developing resources and spreading the vision of the Manaus Fund’s programs to other prospective investors. Three key staff leaders bring over seventy years of collective nonprofit management experience to the Manaus Fund.
Financial sustainability, continuing to implement best nonprofit management practices and program infrastructure development are the primary governance issues being addressed by the board and staff during this phase of rapid growth.
The Manaus Fund Page 11 VOLUNTEERS Parent Mentors are Valley Settlement Project’s most visible volunteers. These volunteers are the hallmark of the Valley Settlement’s project to connect families to the schools in meaningful ways that positively impact educational achievement for both generations. They each volunteer a minimum of 8 hours of service per week throughout the school year and collectively have contributed 3,850 student contact hours in the first year of the program in the schools. During the summer, high school students volunteer on El Busesito, providing a positive teen role model from within the neighborhood for young children.
PLANNING The primary challenge facing the organization is to maintain and replicate the tremendous new program infrastructure of the Valley Settlement Project that was put in place in 2012 and expanded in 2013. Systematically incorporating the evaluation results of the first year into the planning process presents the organization with a great opportunity to communicate the outcomes of the programs with the key funding partners, the school district and agency stakeholders throughout the region.
The second challenge is how to accomplish a shift in the delivery of early childhood and adult education in the most efficient way. Determining how to sustain and simultaneously replicate Valley Settlement Project programs to meet the needs of families in other low income neighborhoods presents a resource challenge. Together the Manaus Fund and the community have an opportunity to decide how move forward together to meet these challenges and break the cycle of poverty.
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THE MANAUS FUND BOARD OF DIRECTORSELAINE GANTZ BERMAN joined the Manaus Fund Board in 2013 and has dedicated her professional work and community service to improving the lives of Colorado's children. Berman's life and work has been strongly influenced by her Cuban-born mother and her extensive experiences in Latin America including a two-year stint in Cali, Colombia with her husband, Steve, where they both worked in community health centers. A longtime advocate of education reform, she served for eight years on the Denver Board of Education, including four years as president prior to being elected in 2008 to the Colorado State Board of Education representing Colorado Congressional District 1.
Prior to her service on the Denver school board, Berman worked for 18 years as a program officer at the Denver-based Piton Foundation. She currently lives in Denver and works with DeBoskey Group, a philanthropic advisory group as Senior Advisor and continues to serve on a dizzying number of state and national education boards and commissions. Berman is fluent in Spanish and holds a MSPH from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
TIM MCFLYNN, Founding member of the Manaus Fund board, is executive director of Public Counsel of the Rockies and a professional mediator with Aspen Dispute Resolution. Raised in Lake Forest, IL, he received BA and JD degrees from Stanford University. Following four years as a special prosecutor of public corruption and white-collar crime, he practiced in California as a civil rights lawyer with foundation-funded public interest law firms. McFlynn moved to Colorado in 1987 and has been an active nonprofit board member including service as Board President of Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Wilderness Workshop, Western Resource Advocates, and Western Conservation Foundation. He co-founded and serves as a Trustee of the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Program. He is also a member of the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild. Married with five children and eight grandchildren, McFlynn lives in Old Snowmass, CO.
MICHAEL MCVOY, Founding member of the Manaus Fund board, has been a licensed securities broker in the Roaring Fork Valley for over 30 years, the last 20 with Raymond James and Associates.
During this time McVoy also spent 8 years as VP and board member in the restaurant business with Pour La France as well as five years as co-publisher and president of the Aspen Times. His parallel career of volunteer service spans leadership on the boards of the Aspen Valley Land Trust, Wilderness Workshop, Roaring Crystal Alliance, Roaring Fork Transit Authority and Pitkin County Retirement Boards and The Manaus Fund. McVoy’s dedication to education runs deep with 19 years on the board at Aspen Community School. He proudly led its transition from a private school into two public charter schools. McVoy is currently board president of the Roaring Fork Community Development Corp, which is redeveloping a trailer park in Basalt into a site for a new hotel, mixed use retail, non-profit and residential spaces, and providing alternative housing for the current residents.
The Manaus Fund Page 13 ROBERT C. PEW III, President of The Manaus Fund and Chairman of the board of directors at Steelcase Inc., the global leader in the office furniture industry. Now a private investor, Pew served as president of Steelcase North America from May 1990 to March 1994. He is also owner and director of Trew Gear, manufacturer of outer-wear for mountain riders. Pew is a former trustee of Grand Valley State University and is currently board chair of the IIT Institute of Design. His varied activities in the not-for-profit sector include Buncombe County United Way, Chair of the Community Planning and Allocation Process and campaign chair of United Way of Western Michigan and president of Junior Achievement of Western North Carolina. Pew served as chair of the Asheville Downtown Commission and campaign chair for the Pack Place Arts and Science Center. Pew lives in Ashville, NC and Woody Creek, CO with his wife, Susan Taylor.
JEFF SELTZER, Founding member of the Manaus Fund board, is an investment manager and management consultant. He served in marketing, sales, and corporate development positions in the technology industry, including as vice president of marketing for Brocade Communications, director of corporate development for Quantum Corporation, and director of product management for Exabyte Corporation. Seltzer holds an MBA from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado. He lives with his wife and two small children in Snowmass, CO and also serves on the board of Aspen Public Radio.
GEORGE STRANAHAN, Founder of The Manaus Fund, is a lifelong educator, philanthropist, serial entrepreneur, physicist, writer, publisher and fine art photographer. Born and raised in Ohio, Stranahan earned his masters and Ph.D in physics from the Carnegie Institute of Technology. After teaching at Michigan State University, he settled in the Aspen area in the early 1970s with his family.