Youth Development: OST, Mentoring, & Education Equity

Funder: The Atlantic Philanthropies 
Project Time Period: 2007-2016

Project Category: Youth Development/Education & STEAM/Evaluation and Performance Measurement Capacity Building/Summative Evaluation

About Elev8: Elev8 is a middle grades community school initiative funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies. Elev8 provides extended day and out-of-school-time activities, school-based health services, and family supports to students in middle schools across four different sites, located in Baltimore, Chicago, New Mexico, and Oakland.

The Work: MAI’s evaluation of Elev8 was multi-faceted–intended to inform both program improvement efforts and the field at large. In the early years of Elev8, MAI worked collaboratively with each site to develop and implement a performance measurement system that stored and generated reports on demographic, participation, and programmatic data. MAI team members worked closely with the sites to develop a data-driven culture and administered annual surveys to students in Elev8 schools. Once implementation was stable, MAI focused evaluation efforts on answering the question, “Is Elev8 achieving its benchmarks and goals?” Leading an iterative co-creation process, MAI developed an Elev8 Results Framework against which Elev8 sites measured their annual progress. The team also conducted an in-depth exploration of Elev8’s out-of-school-time program. By taking a preliminary look inside the “black box” of community school out-of-school-time programming, MAI explored the benefits of Elev8 for the participating middle schools and students and gathered lessons about how Elev8 adapted overtime to maintain its relevancy in the face of various environmental factors and changes.

The evaluation of Elev8 has resulted in benefits for both the Elev8 initiative and the field of community school providers by improving program data collection and use and by the creation of reports that help individual sites advocate for their sustainability.

What We Learned: Our report, "Out-of-School Time in Elev8 Community Schools: A First Look at Participation and its Unique Contribution to Students’ Experiences in School," explores the role of out-of-school time in Elev8. 

The "Maximizing Opportunities and Diminishing Obstacles: Adaptation in Elev8's Full-Service Community Schools" report discusses how Elev8 had to make adaptations to address implementation challenges and maximize the initiative’s success and address contextual issues. 

"The Evaluation of Elev8: Research In Action" slide deck, presented at the Coalition for Community Schools' National Forum in 2016, presents the importance of implementing a developmental approach in evaluation, particularly evaluation of complex initiatives.

Also, download "The Final National Report on Elev8."