Youth Development: OST, Mentoring, & Education Equity

Funder: The National Cares Mentoring Movement
Project Time Period: 2015-2018

Project Category: Youth Development/Mentoring/Formative Evaluation/Summative Evaluation

About The Rising: The Rising is The National CARES Mentoring Movement’s (CARES) signature initiative, designed to prepare children in high-poverty families to succeed in school and life. The pioneering, community-mobilization movement, created by subject-matter experts, aims to propel African American children from impoverishment to independence. The overall goal of The Rising is to transform the lives of young people by surrounding them with caring adults who are trained to deliver a transformational healing curriculum that challenges and affirms, encourages and inspires. The curriculum is rooted in prevention and teaches principles, practices and other support efforts that provide coping and other mechanisms needed to mitigate the impact of the disparities and dysfunction ruining young lives. Integral to the program is the cultivation of cultural pride and high self-esteem, the development of critical-thinking and literacy skills, workforce development and soft “power” skills, and a love for learning and high achievement. In addition to working directly with students, the program works to indirectly change the landscape of the schools they are embedded in, by improving the overall school culture and relationships between students and the staff of the school.

The Work: Building on program staff interviews, program staff site surveys, student case studies, and a student surveys, in 2018, MAI entered its fifth year of the evaluation which focused on documenting participants’ self-reported and academic outcomes. MAI’s evaluation has contributed to the program’s continuous improvement efforts and documented student experiences and outcomes.

What We Learned: The Rising stakeholders are supportive of the program’s vision and overwhelmingly express enthusiasm for its approach. Additionally, The Rising schools have achieved some important milestones that validate their progress in impacting youth of color: Rising staff develop strong relationships both with participants and school staff; students respond positively to programming and even requested more and; the program impacts students in a variety of ways, including improved social skills and hope for the future.