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Innovative Approaches to Tracking an Asset Movement. The Evaluation of the Assets for Colorado Youth Initiative conducted by OMNI Institute With funding support provided by The Colorado Trust. Presentation Overview. Section 1: Historical Perspective of the Statewide Initiative in Colorado

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Innovative Approachesto Tracking an Asset Movement

The Evaluation of the Assets for Colorado Youth Initiative

conducted by OMNI Institute

With funding support provided by The Colorado Trust

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Presentation Overview

  • Section 1: Historical Perspective of the Statewide Initiative in Colorado

  • Section 2:Key Catalysts in the Spread of Assets

  • Section 3:Asset Champion Interviews

  • Section 4:Web of Support for Asset Building Survey

  • Section 5: The Reach of Assets in Colorado

  • Section 6: Implications for Sustainability and Lessons Learned

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Section 1

Historical Perspective

  • Undercurrents of a statewide movement for positive youth development

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The Colorado Trust’s Commitmentto Children

  • Previous Youth-focused Initiatives:

    • Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative

    • Colorado School Health Education Initiative

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The Colorado Trust’s Commitmentto Children

  • Environmental Scan of teen health issues

    • Major theme

  • We need to change the way people think about young people.

  • Rather than identify kids as problems, we need to think of young people as assets to our communities.

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The Beginning of an Initiative

  • In 1997, The Colorado Trust, in partnership with Search Institute, established the first statewide initiative devoted to promoting the asset framework.

  • The Initiative was funded by a $10 million, six-year Colorado Trust grant

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  • 1996 Year of Planning and Visioning

  • 1997-2002 The Unfolding of the Initiative

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Vision for the Initiative

  • Involve multiple and diverse sectors and stakeholders in strengthening the developmental assets of children and adolescents.

  • In doing so, inspire a shift from a deficit-based approach to a strength-based approach

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Goals Informing Grantmaking

  • More immediate

    • To make the asset framework available to communities, organizations, neighborhoods, and schools

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Goals Informing Grantmaking

  • Longer term

    • To continue to promote the development of assets through the creation and establishment of new initiatives and funding opportunities

  • As we go about this work, we are constantly asking ourselves, “How will this support the development of assets in young people?”

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Core Components of the Initiative

  • Statewide office dedicated to the promotion of assets

  • Grantees (some with a statewide reach)

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Establishment of the Assets for Colorado Youth Office

  • Through the partnership of The Colorado Trust and Search Institute, a statewide office was formed and dedicated specifically to promoting assets in Colorado

  • This office – Assets for Colorado Youth – would later evolve into an independent, non-profit organization

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Assets for Colorado Youth Initiative

  • Plants the seeds for a statewide movement through establishment of grantees

    • Total number of organizations that participated in the Initiative = 47

    • Several were multi-site grantees

  • Participation in the Initiative sanctioned the use of the relatively new framework

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Grantmaking Strategies

  • Statewide Partnership (9)

  • Community Mobilization (13)

  • Innovation in Asset Building (13)

  • Community of Color (12)

  • Associational Partner (3)

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Section 2

Catalyzing Forces

  • The forces that propelled the asset movement forward in Colorado

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Major Catalyzing Forces

  • Assets for Colorado Youth

  • Innovation

  • Youth

  • Asset Champions

  • Networking and Relationship Building

  • Funding

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Methods Informing the Evaluation

  • Exit Interviews

  • Content analysis of documents

  • Site visits and participant observation

  • Focus groups with youth

  • Facilitated group discussions with Assets for Colorado Youth

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Assets for Colorado Youth

  • Served as a key catalyzing force that fostered the spread of Assets among both grantee and non-grantee organizations

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Major Roles of ACY

  • Statewide mobilization

  • Building organizational leadership for assets

  • Providing ongoing support to a growing base of asset builders

  • Strategic targeting of different sectors

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Innovation as a Key Catalyst

  • Innovation

    • Original adaptations of the asset framework that allowed assets to be infused more deeply and authentically into organizational efforts and individuals’ consciousness (both staff and clients’).

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Innovation Extended the Reach of Assets

  • Innovation (cultural innovation) facilitated the engagement of diverse audiences

    • Essentially extended the reach of assets beyond organizations, or specific sectors or cultures

    • Allowed the framework to impact and transform individuals in larger social and cultural contexts

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Different Types of Innovations

  • Audio and video tapes

  • Evaluation tools

  • Newsletters

  • Procedure and policy manuals

  • Youth councils/ forums

  • Asset-related events and activities

  • Conferences

  • Libraries/Resource Centers

  • Presentations and performances

  • Trainings and curricula

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Roles of Youth

  • Worked side by side with adult staff to deliver programs to their peers

  • Participated on decision-making councils and boards

  • Some youth traveled around the state sharing the asset message with others

  • Other youth participated on speakers bureaus and raised public awareness in their communities through their leadership and community service initiatives

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Roles of Youth in the Spread of Assets

  • These activities served to build developmental assets in young people

  • Also reinforced for adults:

    • The promise and potential of youth, and

    • A commitment to be asset builders.

  • In these ways, youth served as catalysts for the spread of assets.

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    Innovative Approachesto Tracking an Asset Movement

    • Asset Champion Interviews

    • Web of Support for Networking Survey

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    Section 3

    Asset Champion Interviews

    • Emerging Profiles of Asset Champions

    • Roles in the Unfolding of the Asset Movement in Colorado

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    Asset Champion Interviews

    • Explored:

      • Asset Champions’ roles in the community

      • The impetus behind Asset Champions’ passion for and commitment to the asset framework

      • Their wisdom and experience in engaging others in the work of building and promoting the developmental assets

      • The contributions of asset champions to the movement

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    Asset Champion Interviews

    • OMNI conducted 9 interviews with those who met the criteria established for identifying Asset Champions

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    Criteria Established for Identifying Asset Champions

    • Intentionally spread the asset model and philosophy through both formal and informal means

    • Identified by more than one person or organization as the source of their asset-related inspiration

    • Served as the “hub” – point of connection – for at least one associational network or partnership.

    • Served as a resource to others: they supported and encouraged others to move from awareness of assets to the application of assets

    • Demonstrated a sustained commitment to and passion for assets; they “stick with it” over time.

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    Key Characteristics of Asset Champions

    • A deep sense of commitment and connection to a community

    • A social conscience (evidenced by their history of service to a particular community, which afforded them respect and authority, and legitimized their role as a change agent)

    • Magnetic qualities: an extroverted personality, positive energy/ orientation, and hopefulness (sense of efficacy) that drew others and helped them mobilize others

    • The ability to serve as an effective messenger by adapting/ translating the asset framework and philosophy in new settings and for diverse audiences

    • A heightened awareness of teachable moments – those moments in which an opportunity is created/ recognized for building assets and developing new asset builders

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    Three Profiles of Asset Champions

    Asset Champions who:

    1. prepared a fertile soil for assets to take root and spread

    • Embraced assets prior to the Initiative

    • 2. served as powerful youth advocates

      • Tended to place young people in positions to be the voice and inspiration for the movement

    • 3. emerged as a result of the Initiative

      • Were transformed by their participation and their exposure to Assets for Colorado Youth and other Asset Champions.

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    Major Roles of Asset Champions

    • The messenger

      • Deliberately/ intentionally spreading the word about assets within and beyond relatively large spheres of influence

      • Engaging others by tailoring the asset message to diverse audiences and by making the framework relevant to people’s daily lives

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    The Messenger

    The message of assets [has to align] with what is going on right now in communities. I think that [the message] has to be tailored depending on the community and the neighborhood. I think that’s one of the key factors is that it can’t just be a list … It has to be adjusted, tailored and presented in a way that is relevant for this time, for the community, for the people it’s presented to.

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    Major Roles of Asset Champions

    • The advocate

      • Carried the spirit of assets forward by creating opportunities for young people to have authentic and meaningful roles in community life

      • Advocated for youth involvement and authentic youth engagement, particularly in sectors and communities where the voices of youth were rarely heard or nurtured.

      • The wonderment they experienced when working with youth fueled and sustained their commitment to the asset-building movement.

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    The Advocate for Youth

    It just puts me in awe sometimes, how amazing they are when they speak. When they use their voices, it’s just like, ‘Whoa!.’ It blows my mind. It blows my mind on a regular basis.

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    The Advocate for Youth

    I think [that exposure to assets] has given me clear direction that my work will always be with and around and for youth.

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    Section 4

    Web of Support for Asset Building

    • Relationship building and networking as major mechanisms for the spread of assets

    • Unique contributions of grantmaking strategies to the spread of assets

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    Web of Support for Asset Building Survey

    • Asked survey respondents to identify the organizations, groups and individuals that made up their web of support for asset building

    • Asked specifically that they restrict the identification of partners and sources of support to those that also use the 40 developmental assets

    • Administered near the conclusion of the Initiative to assess the reach of assets 5 and a half years after TCT launched the Initiative and sponsored the establishment of ACY’s office

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    • In order to obtain as accurate an assessment as possible about the reach of the movement, we wanted to survey those we had reason to believe were engaged in asset building in the state

    • Surveyed both grantees and non-grantees (created two versions of the survey)

    • Compiled lists of those who:

      • Attended state and national conferences

      • ACY partners

      • Attended ACY presentations, trainings and strategic planning/ learning forums

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    • Received 75 completed surveys, for a response rate of 33%

    • Sent surveys to an estimated 230 entities in Colorado

    • Identified a total of 616 partners that reportedly use the 40 developmental assets in their work and/or support the use of the 40 developmental assets

    • A local foundation may not have been directly involved in building assets but supported an organization by providing grant funding for this purpose

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    Key Finding

    • Respondents identified a total of 446 different entities as partners, each of which appeared between 1 and 26 times as part of survey respondents’ webs of support

    • Assets for Colorado Youth topped the list as the organization most frequently identified as a source of support for asset building by organizations across the state

    • This finding serves to document ACY’s role as a formidable catalyst and source of support for asset building

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    The Colorado



    United Way

    Boy Scouts



    Full Circle


    Cherry Creek







    Summit Prevention

    CO Springs Assets


    for Youth



    Girl Scouts




    Colorado’s Core of Support for Asset Building

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    Key Finding

    • The following organizations listed the largest number of partners / sources of support for asset building

    • These organizations presumably have some of the largest networks established around and for asset building:

      • Cherry Creek School District (25)

      • Colorado Springs Assets for Youth (23)

      • Summit County Prevention Alliance (23)

      • Full Circle of Lake County, Inc. (22)

      • Roaring Fork Family Resource Centers (22)

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    Implication for Role as a Catalyst

    • Inference: organizations with the largest networks established and mobilized around assets also have the greatest potential to serve as important catalysts for the spread of assets

    • This is supported by the fact that individuals who met the five criteria established to identify Asset Champions are associated with three of the five organizations listed on the previous slide

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    Key Finding

    • All of the organizations that emerged as having the largest asset-related networks participated in the Initiative as either a statewide partnership or community mobilization grantee

    • Organizations participating in either grantmaking strategy were charged with systematically spreading the word about assets and mobilizing others for asset building

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    Unique Contribution of Grantmaking Strategies to the Spread of Assets

    • The fact the organizations that report having the largest networks established for and mobilized around assets also participated in these two grantmaking strategies suggests that these strategies made important contributions in terms of promoting networking and, therefore, the spread of assets

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    Section 5 of Assets

    The Reach of Assets in Colorado

    • Density Maps

    • The engagement of non-grantees and diverse sectors

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    Key Finding of Assets

    • Only about 10% of those entities identified as using and/or actively supporting the use of the 40 developmental assets were grantees of the Initiative

    • This finding indicates that assets did spread well beyond those formally involved in and receiving funding from the Initiative

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    Engaging Diverse Sectors of Assets

    • Survey asked respondents to identify the sector with which a specific partner or source of support was most strongly associated

    • Specific sectors listed on the survey include:

      • Business

      • Education

      • Faith-based

      • Government

      • Health

      • Philanthropic/Grantmaking

      • Youth Serving

      • Non-profit

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    Key Finding of Assets

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    Key Finding of Assets

    • Survey respondents identified 30 different entities that had contributed funding specifically to support asset-related efforts

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    Section 6 of Assets

    Implications for Sustainability and Lessons Learned

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    The Role of Funding of Assets

    • Significant, dedicated funding, provided over multiple years, played a critical role in supporting the spread of assets by allowing/ facilitating:

      • staff to dedicate time to promoting and building assets

      • the development and dissemination of asset-related materials, resource products and other innovations

      • staff to attend conferences and trainings where they could network with other asset builders who could reinforce and validate their work, serve as partners/ collaborators, and provide ongoing sources of support

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    The Role of Funding of Assets

    • Funding also contributed to the development of a critical mass of asset builders within a concentrated period of time

    • With more people using and promoting the 40 developmental assets, this enhanced visibility and name recognition of the relatively new framework, thus advancing the movement

    • Being part of a formal initiative that was statewide in scope legitimized the strength-based approach of many organizations and helped others think differently about youth development work

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    Implications for Sustainability of Assets

    • The following findings/ insights suggest that assets has taken hold in important ways in Colorado:

      • 66% of those responding to the survey indicated that both their organization and their partner(s) planned to continue to apply assets in their work

    • A more diverse funding base has emerged to support asset building at varying levels and in diverse organizations and communities

    • The establishment of the Assets for Colorado Youth office, which is dedicated solely to promoting the assets framework and to facilitating assets integration among diverse communities, sections and organizations

    • The sheer number of those reporting some level of involvement in and support for asset building in Colorado

    • The geographic scope of these efforts