Forum for Thought Blog

Capitol Hill Release of AYPF Report on Programs Serving Disconnected Youth

12/07/2012 12:00 PM - 01:30 PM ET


Capitol Hill Forum


Washington, DC


Over the past several months, AYPF has conducted in-depth studies to examine how three high-achieving youth-serving programs utilize data as a tool for continuous program improvement and ongoing accountability. Key research questions included: how has the organization’s use of data evolved over time; how is a comprehensive data management system serving the dual purposes of program improvement and compliance with reporting obligations; and what information is most useful to drive program improvements.

This forum will serve as the release of our report, Beyond the Numbers: Data Use for Continuous Improvement of Programs Serving Disconnected Youth.  Following a brief presentation from each program, our panelists will engage in a conversation about the successes and challenges around data use at their programs as well as explore the common themes.

The three profiled: Diploma Plus Network, Our Piece of the Pie, and Roca were selected because of their proven track record of success in serving the needs of disconnected youth.   Below are short summaries describing the basic components of each program’s model, as well as their outcomes:

Diploma Plus:

Diploma Plus is a non-profit education organization that focuses on re-engaging urban youth at-risk of dropping out of high school. Originally founded in 1996 as a pilot program for 100 students in Boston, Massachusetts, Diploma Plus has developed and currently implements a school model that provides rigorous and individualized educational experiences for students. Combining content knowledge with real-world applications in a meaningful context, Diploma Plus engages at-risk students through its student-centered curriculum. Diploma Plus schools are characterized by their implementation of the Four Essentials: a performance-based system that includes competency-based assessment, supportive school culture, a future focus on postsecondary/career education, and effective capabilities to implement the model across the network. To date, the organization has grown into a national network serving over 3400 students, and spans 28 separate schools. Diploma Plus has experienced great success in providing quality academic and career preparation for at-risk youth, with roughly 90 percent of students passing state English and Math tests, and 91 percent of students graduating. Of those graduates, 82 percent are accepted into and plan to attend college.

Our Piece of the Pie:

Our Piece of the Pie (OPP), in Hartford, Connecticut, founded in 1975 as a local community services organization, has evolved into an organization focused exclusively on improving young people’s outcomes in education and employment. OPP provides programs for youth from age 14 through 24, with a particular focus on the over-age and under-credited population at risk of not graduating from high school or finding sustainable employment without support. In order to provide well-targeted and differentiated services based on youths’ needs, OPP has identified four cohorts, or “pathways,” within the population served: out-of-school youth with no diploma; in-school youth who are at-risk of dropping out; in-school youth who are on-track for graduation; and the “postsecondary pathway” composed of youth who utilized OPP services and who have graduated from high school.  In 2011-12, OPP served 853 youth across all its programming.  Of those youth, OPP 88 percent are eligible to obtain a high school credential (versus 60% in Hartford Public Schools); 76 percent are eligible continue to some sort of postsecondary education; and 65 percent retain jobs for 12 months or longer.


Roca is a non-profit, community-serving organization located in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and was founded in 1988. A pioneer, Roca was one of the first community-serving organizations in Massachusetts to integrate youth development principles into its intensive outreach and engagement paired with relevant programming. An innovator in providing services to the high-risk youth population, Roca employs its High-Risk Intervention Model, a comprehensive, three-Phase process with two years of intensive intervention, followed by two years of follow-up services. The High-Risk Intervention Model encourages both the primary young male population and the secondary young mother population to engage in transformational relationships and programming to support competency development in life skills, employment, and education. In 2012, Roca served a total of 888 high-risk youth in the Chelsea/East Boston area, and an additional 232 youth from a secondary site opened in Springfield, Massachusetts in 2010. Of Roca’s 2011 graduates, 90 percent sustained employment and/or engaged in education; 86 percent had no new arrests after leaving the program; and 81 percent of the young mother population reported no new pregnancies.


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