If funded, how will you know if your project has been effective?
We plan to adopt pre/post evaluation service learning evaluation questions used in the Teen Outreach Program (TOP), an evidence-based youth development and prevention program, to assess youth’s increase in pro-social behaviors and self-perceptions of the importance of their contribution to their community across the project. This evaluation approach will be supplemented by the use of youth assessment tools developed by Search Institute, as well as leadership development training evaluation tools developed for The Family Partnership by Dr. David Baronov, chair of the Human Service Administration program at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.
We will also use the Civic Engagement Measurement System (CEMS), a new, national evaluation system that is available to us through our membership in the Alliance for Children and Families. Developed by Behavioral Pathway Systems with support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, CEMS uses surveys to gather and provide comparative quantitative analysis of multiple stakeholders’ (e.g., elders, youth, community residents, police partners) perceptions about a programs’ impact across multiple dimensions such as health and safety.
What specific health outcome(s) do you expect your project to have?
The Native American Somali Peacemakers Project will produce positive health outcomes on a variety of levels, both individual and collective:
In the lives of youth, who will develop lifelong leadership and work skills, make healthier life choices, and reduce high risk behaviors such as gang involvement;
In the lives of elders, who will contribute their wisdom, history, and cultural practices thereby, according to health and longevity research, increase the quality and, potentially, the length of their lives; and
In the communities, which will become safer, more socially connected, and healthier for children and families living in poverty.
Describe the reach of your project.
Our initial target audience is Native American and Somali youth living in the Phillips and Cedar Riverside neighborhoods, as well as elders and other family members. The model has tremendous potential to achieve significant reach beyond these two neighborhoods, however, with its basic elements being equally applicable to communities across Minnesota and beyond. In fact, the work of the Native American Somali Friendship Committee has already moved people beyond our borders, most recently with a international delegation of Israelis and Palestinians seeking to apply the principles to their own struggle for peace.
What will it take to implement your project effectively and sustain the work over a two-year period?
Native American Somali Peacemakers Project activities will be coordinated by Amina Saleh, Project Coordinator/lead community organizer (.60 FTE on this project; time includes 10% of project budget for evaluation) at The Family Partnership. Amina is well-trained and well-versed in best practices related to youth leadership development and violence prevention. In addition, she has received extensive training on community convening and facilitation techniques, most recently with the Bush Foundation’s “Art of Hosting” model. Amina will be responsible for the overall coordination and management of Native American Somali Peacemakers Project, and will also serve as the lead trainer for the youth leadership development program.
In addition to Amina, we will also to hire a .65 FTE Native American Somali Peacemakers Project community organizer, responsible for cultivating relationships with a wide variety of community stakeholders, coordinating community forums and actions, facilitating the mediation circles, and providing ongoing support and coaching for youth leadership development program participants as they implement their community public safety projects. Additionally, we are proposing to offer stipends to youth leadership development program participants for their community organizing and training work as we have learned, through years of experience with youth leadership and organizing programs, that this is a key element for sustained participation, family support, and program completion.
Describe the current stage of implementation and provide a brief overview of the phases involved in implementing the work over a two-year period.
As referenced above, The Native American Somali Peacemakers Project is an expansion of the Native American Somali Friendship Committee, a nationally and internationally recognized model of cross-cultural reconciliation and collaboration. At the current stage of our development, we have established a variety of cross-cultural, cross-sector relationships that serve as the infrastructure for the proposed expansion.
The next stage of implementation will commence with expanded recruitment efforts. We will identify project participants through our extensive network of partner organizations including, but not limited to: Minneapolis Police Department; Division of Indian Work; Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota; City of Minneapolis; and Somali Action Alliance. These partner organizations will also help coordinate and facilitate community actions and forums, provide guest trainers for the youth leadership development training program, offer project support to youth leadership development participants, and allow the use of their cultural/organizational spaces for project activities during subsequent phases of the project.
How would you share lessons from your project with other organizations and communities?
Because of our existing work with InCommons, we've had the opportunity to learn about a number of innovative and emerging methods for sharing our work with other organizations and communities. In particular, the Art of Hosting tools and trainings have greatly expanded our capacity to engage communities and organizations in deeper and more organic ways, sharing lessons learned and co-creating new solutions and new ways of working together. We're also excited to participate in other sharing and co-creation opportunities, such as the upcoming Social Innovation Lab, in the future.